WOLF School Students Make a Huge Impact at Natural Bridges

With the help of 744 student volunteers from schools throughout the Bay Area, Web of Life Field (WOLF) School removed over 103.5 pounds of trash and recyclables from Natural Bridges State Beach in 2016. These impactful efforts are the result of WOLF School’s 2016 introduction of official Save Our Shores beach clean-ups into their residential outdoor science school program.

Throughout their outdoor science school programs, which annually serve 3,500 students at campuses throughout California, WOLF School advocates a respect for nature and teaches students their own ability to incorporate simple yet impactful acts of stewardship within their communities. For years WOLF School has led field trips from their Santa Cruz-area campus, Camp Monte Toyon in Aptos, CA, to Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz, CA during which WOLF School naturalists educate students on environmental stewardship within our public lands through litter pick-up, dune restoration, and weeding of invasive species. Wanting to show students the greater impact their day at the beach was having on environmental stewardship at the community and global level, WOLF School joined Save Our Shores’ Sanctuary Stewards program in the spring of 2016.

Through this collaboration, WOLF School began cataloging the marine debris they and their student volunteers removed from Natural Bridges State Beach during official Save Our Shore beach clean-ups, contributing to scientific data on the hundreds of pounds of trash and recyclables removed from the beaches within the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary each year. Students attending field trips at Natural Bridges with WOLF School now have the opportunity to not only learn the importance of keeping plastic from our own oceans and rivers, but are able to connect their efforts to the global effortof marine conservation at large.

WOLF School students at Natural Bridges State Beach during Save Our Shores-sanctioned beach clean-up. All told, students removed 103.5 pounds of trash and recyclables in 2016.

WOLF School students at Natural Bridges State Beach during Save Our Shores-sanctioned beach clean-up. All told, students removed 103.5 pounds of trash and recyclables in 2016.

“It’s so important to show students how all the little pieces can add up to a very large impact,” said Sergio Typhoon, WOLF School Program Coordinator. “They start the beach clean-up by filling up their own bucket with debris, and it doesn’t seem like that much. Then at the end of the day, they get to add their bucket to all of their peers’ to see how much they removed together as a school. Now we can share our 2016 totals with them, and they can feel pride at their contribution to this community-wide collaboration that really does have a huge impact on global marine stewardship.”

In total, WOLF School held 11 beach clean-ups throughout 2016, working with 744 5th and 6th grade students from schools throughout San Jose and the San Francisco Bay Area. Together, WOLF School and these students removed 5,917 total pieces of trash from Natural Bridges State Beach, adding up to 83.75 pounds of trash and 19.75 pounds of recyclables, for a total waste removal of 103.5 pounds. 853.5 volunteer hours contributed to this impressive achievement.

“This project is so worthwhile!” said Martha Nitzberg, long-time interpreter at Natural Bridges. “Having students make a difference at this age is super important in helping them to realize how they CAN effect the world positively. I speak for the common good when I say ‘Thank you, WOLF School, for making the beach cleaner for everyone to enjoy and for empowering your students!’”

Learn more about Save Our Shores' efforts to protect the Monterey Bay at saveourshores.org.

Explore Natural Bridges State Beach! Learn more at parks.ca.gov.

Do you have a student group interested in participating in a WOLF School/Save Our Shores beach clean-up? Contact the WOLF School office to discuss adding the experience to your program or attending a single day field trip!