With the Ocean Guardian program, students make an impact

How do you remove 75,000 square feet of invasive plants while teaching kids about marine environments and community outreach? With the NOAA Ocean Guardian School program!

children and teachers in the ocean

Since 2009, the Ocean Guardian program has worked with schools throughout the country to implement stewardship projects that directly protect the ocean. These hands-on projects enable students to develop an awareness of how small changes in their daily activities can help protect the health of our national marine sanctuaries and the ocean.

And these aren’t small projects with miniscule local impacts, either: as of June 2014, Ocean Guardian students have removed nearly 160,000 pounds of trash from beaches and coastal ecosystems and installed hundreds of recycling and composting bins. These amazing students have removed more than 140,000 invasive plants and planted 17,000 native perennials in their place, and have reclaimed 3,550 gallons of water through catchment systems -- a crucial step toward both alleviating the California drought and reducing runoff pollution.

photo showing a lunch box

Ocean Guardian projects don’t just benefit the environment; they also provide community, educational, and lifelong stewardship benefits. By participating in these programs, students learn about their local watersheds, gain a greater understanding of the ocean, and engage in outreach in their communities. Ocean Guardian promotes lifelong stewardship: students complete projects with an increased environmental knowledge and a heightened sense of responsibility to preserve and protect the environment.

Plus, these programs have an economic value that far exceeds the grant funding used to establish and run the programs. A recent economic study by Rainey Graeven, a recent graduate from the Monterey Institute of International Studies Center for the Blue Economy, of five schools in the Ocean Guardian Program showed that these schools’ projects were worth a total of $161,031 in volunteer labor and time alone -- far more than the $14,305 that these schools received in grant funding.

photo of people doing beach cleanup

Our ocean is a vital, fragile place, and it needs all the protection we can give it. In partnership with the National Marine Sanctuary System, the Ocean Guardian School Program is making a difference -- a difference that each student will carry forward.

photo of a mural