Community Service Spotlight

Twin Lakes State Beach cleanup

Twin Lakes State Beach cleanup

One of the primary purposes of O’Neill Sea Odyssey is to foster awareness of environmental stewardship and personal responsibility among program participants. This is done by delivering an interactive curriculum that emphasizes the connections between land and sea, and as it is a free program, each participating group is required to complete a service project to earn their trip.

Community service is an integral component of the OSO stewardship model, and we are proud of the work our students have accomplished over the years. To-date, more than 3,000 service projects have been completed, often benefiting a number of our Monterey Bay non-profit organizations.


In June, Nueva Vista Community Resources and The Spot Camp each conducted a beach cleanup at Seabright State Beach and Twin Lakes State Beach, respectively, in partnership with Save Our Shores (SOS). Accompanied by OSO Media Interns, Jasper and Sophie, students were split into teams and instructed to fill out Marine Debris Data cards to track the type and quantity of trash they found. At the end of the activity, trash was separated from recyclable materials and weighed.

Combined, the two student groups collected and removed a total of 17 pounds of trash and 2 1/2 pounds of recyclables and these results were entered into the SOS Cleanup Database where their data can be used to inform public policy and coastal management decisions. How about them apples? Following the cleanups, the groups then discussed different ways to reduce the amount of waste that was found, and steps they could take to reduce their consumption of single-use plastic items at home.

Through it all, the students were happy and eager to learn more about the marine environment and build off the information they learned aboard the Team O'Neill catamaran and in the Sea Odyssey classrooms. They were quick to make connections while working with Save Our Shores and impressed to hear how many individual pieces of trash they found.

Special thanks to the City of Santa Cruz who provided Measure E funding to support this coordinated effort between O'Neill Sea Odyssey and Save Our Shores. In all, seven Measure E classes were served, totaling 170 students. (Photos courtesy of Jasper Lyons and Sophie Holin)

In February, Castroville Elementary School conducted a restoration at Moss Landing State Beach in partnership with Elkhorn Slough Foundation. Kathy Truong's and Julio Alfaro's 5th grade students removed over 200 square feet (four heaping piles) of invasive ice plant to clear the landscape for native plant species and re-establish habitat for wildlife.

Special thanks to The David & Lucile Packard Foundation who provided funding to support Miss Truong's group of 30 students on the Sea Odyssey program, along with the more than 20 other classes served, totaling 635 students. (Photos courtesy of Kathy Truong)

Through the O'Neill Sea Odyssey program, and in conjunction with the various organizations, these Ocean Stewards have enjoyed the beauty and wonder that our coastal marine environment provides while learning to respect and preserve it. On behalf of OSO and the entire Monterey Bay community, we thank them for their efforts, and we thank you for your continued support.

Adam Steckley