FIELD STUDIES & CITIZEN SCIENCE
These outdoor educational field experiences are all inquire-based, hands-on science activities coordinated and instructed by bilingual (English and Spanish) staff with assistance from partnering agencies staff and volunteers. They have direct positive impacts on the students’ knowledge and on their local environments, and in many cases contribute to large scale citizen science projects. Our themed field studies include:
i) ‘Watershed Connections to Oceans’ studies at creeks, river mouths, streams or wetlands in proximity to the school participating in our programs. Activities may include water quality testing, native plant restoration, bird identification, wetland exploration, or insect identification for water quality assessment.
ii) ‘Monitoring Coastal Habitats’ field trips take place at sandy beaches and rocky intertidal zones (rocky shores). Our students contribute scientific data to NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries LiMPETS monitoring program. We guide our teachers and students on how to enter the data into the West Coast LiMPETS database.
iii) ‘My Channel Islands’: Activities may include wildlife observation and identification, hiking or kayaking at the Channel Islands led by Island Packers Inc. naturalists, and participation in educational activities led by MERITO Foundation staff (This field experience is temporarily suspended due to COVID-19).
iv) ‘Enviro-STEAM Snapshots’: These activities include exposure of students to STEAM careers related to the environment such as tour of local wastewater treatment plant, energy facilities, or environmental video-production companies. Students get to meet professionals that are not scientists but work on green jobs.
v) ‘Beach Clean Ups’: At local beaches with permission of local Municipalities and assistance from partner organizations and volunteers, students collect marine debris, categorize according to the type of trash, calculate percentages, and log in the information using Ocean Conservancy’s International data sheets and database.
Contact us if you would like the MERITO Foundation to coordinate and instruct any of the above field experiences for your school class or after school program.
Citizen science refers to science conducted by average citizens, e.g., students, parents, volunteers, or average people who are not professional scientists but have a keen interest in scientific inquiry or want to contribute to the conservation of our natural world.
The MERITO Foundation’s students, teachers, volunteers, and staff contribute to on going scientific research by collecting and entering scientific data during our field studies to ongoing research led by renowned scientists, research institutions, and resource protection governmental agencies in USA and abroad. Examples include Cornell University’s eBird program for studying bird populations; NOAA ONMS LiMPETS program to monitor the health of sandy and rocky beaches along the West coast; and Ocean Conservancy’s global study of marine debris. MERITO Foundation’s students also collect data on key water quality parameters for various creeks and rivers of the Santa Barbara Channel Region.
Educators and students have the option to enter the collected information into the online mapping platform we have developed with Field scope to give students the opportunity to digitally graph, map, and visualize the information they gathered. The 3 -step process (lean, do and analyze) provides our students a profound understand of their role as citizen scientists and their contribution of valuable data to better understand and address the impacts of current environmental threats currently altering habitats and climate in a global scale.