By Patrick Levin, Ocean Connectors Eco Tour Coordinator
Shortly after I joined the team at Ocean Connectors, I was asked to contribute to our blog in order to introduce myself and share why I’m so excited over my new involvement with the organization. I have spent the better part of the last four years on the San Diego coastline as a surfer, surf instructor, and lifeguard. While completing my B.A. in Communications and Minor in Political Science at the University of California, San Diego, I studied the various institutional challenges to environmental health, the greatest being a lack of education. Ocean Connectors is tackling this particular challenge head on.
Recently, I had the opportunity to attend an Ocean Connectors field trip with 6th grade students participating in the Bird and Habitat Study. We met down at the Bayshore Bikeway on the banks of the Otay River in Imperial Beach where we had set up three hands-on learning stations for the students. That particular day, students had the opportunity to explore natural objects under a microscope, spend time observing birds with binoculars, and participate in a restoration of the native coastal sage scrub habitat.
My group started at the microscopes and as we made our way over to the bird watching station, we were greeted with a flurry of birds flying in and out of the shallow Otay River. In our excitement, we lost track of time and the students were left with only a few minutes to sketch their favorite bird. Despite the lack of time, I noticed a particular student in the group who was able to produce a beautiful sketch of a black necked stilt mid flight. She had perfectly recalled a snapshot of a mere fraction of a second and flawlessly translated that memory onto paper.
We closed the day with a group discussion, where we recapped the work we had accomplished and recognized several students for exceptional engagement in the day’s lesson. When the student in my group was recognized for her amazing artwork, she couldn’t help but smile. I knew this was a day she wouldn’t soon forget.
An impact like this is a common occurrence at Ocean Connectors. Kids are inspired to pursue science education, environmental artists are born, and great minds work together to impact a community’s relationship with conservation. I’m excited to be a part of the organization’s mission to create a lasting cycle of environmentally conscientious behaviors that will leave behind a legacy of coastal stewardship.
I am working to build the Eco Tour program into a sustainable enterprise that helps to ensure the future of Ocean Connectors. My goal is to broaden our reach to include local residents and tourists of all ages and backgrounds. The Eco Tour program is critical because it gives us a platform to showcase San Diego Bay’s unique ecology and share the work we are doing to protect and preserve it. I am looking forward to helping the program thrive and I am proud to be an Ocean Connector.
Please join us in welcoming Patrick! He can be reached at Patrick@oceanconnectors.org.