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Young Environmentalists

Young Environmentalists


By Shiloh Terrell

Some young environmentalists recently made me stop and think. Their actions had me visualizing how hard it was to save money when I was 8-12 years old. 

Do you remember your diligent efforts to collect coins you found in parking lots? Saving money you received from the Tooth Fairy? How about sweating your way into some lawn mowing money? Or perhaps washing your way into some “doing the dishes” money? You might have received a crisp five-dollar bill in a birthday card. And what would your efforts total for a year? Maybe $100-$200, if you were lucky.

Now, I want you to imagine you’re attending an event about giving. An event that is inspiring. An event that engages you. You feel connected to everyone around you. Then, you donate the entire sum of money you saved that year to a cause you believe in.

When is the last time you gave every penny you owned to a cause you believe in? For four young students in Oregon, that was very recently!



An Example Worth Following

At the peak of last year’s giving season, four children among hundreds showed up to Willamette Week’s Give! Guide online giving platform. They came with one intention – to donate to a cause they believe in. Give! Guide is a local end-of-year online giving event in Portland, Oregon. They have a variety of domains to choose from. Domains such as the environment, health, education, animals, civil rights, etc. 

Ocean Blue was one of over 170 participating non-profits in the environmental category. Bay, Marlin M., Leo C., and Nora B. chose to spend their hard-earned money to donate a tree to Ocean Blue that day. But it’s not only about the trees. The funds that Ocean Blue secured at Give! Guide – a total of $11,900 – also goes to funding Ocean Blue education programs. All of this to say, children can learn a lot about philanthropy from youth stewards like Bay, Marlin, Leo, and Nora. The generous contributions of these young environmentalists are making a difference. Thanks to them, other young people can learn more about our one world Ocean and how to care for it. 

Contributions like these help fund education programs, curriculum development, and camps. In fact, there’s a summer camp coming up in July 2021! More on camp in a minute though. Let’s talk about the curriculum first.



Making Waves in Oceanic Education

In the Fall of 2021, Ocean Blue plans to release levels K-5 of its Blue Schools educational curriculum. The curriculum material focuses on identifying local watersheds. It also focuses on how water travels, the impact of microplastics, and protecting our water resources

Intended for public, private, and homeschool use, the Blue Schools curriculum teaches our youth how to care for our one world Ocean and each other. Ocean Blue recognizes the multitude of estuaries, rivers, and streams around the world. Every continent has pathways of water that lead to the oceans. We all share the oceans. So, it’s our job, as stewards of the earth, to keep our one world Ocean clean.



Who Can Use the Blue Schools Curriculum?

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are key points in Ocean Blue’s educational materials. Therefore, everyone should feel free to participate. Regardless of the ethnicity, ability, country, or financial background, you come from. Age is no different. Ocean Blue sees the importance of involving youth stewards in taking care of our one world Ocean. Together, we will empower the next generation.



The History of Blue Schools

In 2012, the Blue Streams and Rivers program began. By the third year of the project, students were involved in an increasing amount of scientific work, like managing soil health with fungi.

In 2016, Ocean Blue enhanced the streams and rivers program. This led to the Urban Stream initiative. An investment of time and resources was made on a local stream called Periwinkle Creek in Albany, Oregon. The restoration crew included underprivileged and at-promise youth, university students, and local communities.

In 2019, a group of teens from Upward Bound cleaned a beach in Lincoln City, Oregon. The following year, they tackled a creek in Salem, Oregon. 

These are some ways funds help students, underprivileged youth, and local communities. Examples of how young environmentalists are grown.

As the organization has matured, so has its hands-on involvement with children and teens. Ocean Blue is excited to offer a curriculum for schools and STEM lessons at home.



An OCEAN-Centered Curriculum

The curriculum for schools centers around Ocean Blue’s core values:

Optimism – Stay positive and goal-focused.

Collaboration – We’re better working together.

Equality – Address needs for all people equitably. 

Action – Serve the needs of people and wildlife.

Nobility – Do the right thing.


Blue Schools is a K-12 STEM curriculum. It teaches children and young adults to become active young environmentalists. The curriculum was developed with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA). It aligns with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Blue Schools curriculum meets the unique needs of individual classrooms and communities. 

The ecology-based curriculum contains four distinct segments:

  • Classroom and Distance Learning
  • Outdoor Field Experiences and Stewardship Action Projects
  • Community Participation
  • Synthesis and Conclusions

Blue School helps each classroom identify the watershed in their area. The stewardship action projects are then customized to the area they serve.



Cultivating Young Environmentalists

Blue Schools lessons and activities are available to teachers. To those who want to cultivate a movement of young environmentalists across the nation.

Homeschoolers, K-12 classrooms, and learners on virtual platforms can all benefit. The Blue Schools curriculum is designed with their needs in mind. It’s tailored to the needs of each teacher, classroom, and watershed. So, Ocean Blue is able to provide lesson plans and Stewardship Action Projects… And do so while adhering to local guidelines related to COVID-19.

Unfortunately, not every student has historically had access to the materials needed to learn about our planet. To learn about the importance of replacing single-use plastic products with sustainable materials. That’s why Ocean Blue provides lessons and materials for Title 1 schools. And to those reporting a high percentage of economically disadvantaged students. Ocean Blue gives marginalized students the tools and materials they need. Ones necessary to empower individual choices. To provide a way for these students to make a positive impact on their environment.



Summer Camp 2021

Do you have a young environmentalist in your household? The curriculum doesn’t come out until Fall 2021, and summer is coming up. School is out! Or is it? Who knows anymore. One this is for sure though – summertime is a great time to learn new things! 

Ocean Blue is partnering with Vibe of Portland. Together they will offer an experience of art, music, and science in their summer camp! The Ocean Blue Summer Camp will take place from July 12th-16th, 2021. That is a Monday through Friday. It will be in Portland, Oregon. 

This five-day summer camp is full of art and environmental education. Serving first through sixth-graders, this summer camp is ideal for any child who has a love of art and the ocean. With a focus on stewardship, the children will use art to show what they learned.

Ocean Blue summer camp offers a chance to connect with like-minded students as well.

Fostering connections with other passionate young environmentalists allows children to collaborate.

The children can then work together to make an impact on their local communities. The Ocean Blue summer camp will be in Portland, Oregon. If you’d like to register, follow this link. See you there! 



Connecting To Our One World Ocean

We are not alive on this earth to live alone, but instead to help each other. We are here to care for the earth. Community is crucial to the wellness of a larger society, as the creek is crucial to the larger ocean.



What can you do to help?

Would like to continue seeing community projects focused on young environmentalists? Make a donation to Ocean Blue today. 
As you know, education is key in fostering purpose-driven service in children. Projects like the River Restoration, STEM lessons at home, and the Blue Schools curriculum are positive catalysts. In short, they allow children to connect with each other. To encourage each other and grow together. Programs like these unite the next generation of young environmentalists.

That’s why the team at Ocean Blue is excited. Watching Blue Schools Projects expand across the United States and the world is amazing. Identify your communities’ local watershed here. Consider ways to help foster healthier waterways in your own community.



Listen for teachable moments

Next, listen to your children when they ask questions about the environment. It’s all too easy to miss teachable moments when we are busy. That’s because key questions tend to come at inconvenient times. So, we all need to keep our ears open and be ready to answer difficult questions.
Lastly, encourage your children, pick up trash with them and instill values in them. Consider how you might respond if your children gave their savings to a cause. Would you be supportive?
Children may be a small segment of our population but they are our future. Remember the example of the young environmentalists mentioned here today.

Author Bio: Shiloh is a single mom of two kids, and works in the insurance industry full time. Outside of the office, she flexes her creative muscles by writing. She also enjoys practicing handstands and yoga. From the time she was 10 yrs old, she wanted to be a marine biologist. Writing articles like this allows her to express her love for the environment.