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Local Sustainability Projects - Dana Hills High School

DHHS - Local Sustainability ProjectA cornerstone of the GSP is the requirement that students provide 40 hours of direct service to a nature conservancy or nonprofit ecology organization in their community. The Foundation strongly believes that students should develop an ethic of responsibility for their environment, both locally and globally. The Foundation requires this hands-on service to allow the students to “pay forward” the opportunity they have been afforded in participating in the Earthwatch expedition.

The Dana Hills High School students will be working with Crystal Cove Alliance (CCA), the nonprofit partner of Crystal Cove State Park. In 2014, CCA helped to launch the Michael and Tricia Berns Environmental Study Loop, an innovative new facility that engages visitors in the science of park conservation. The Berns Environmental Study Loop, with its half-mile hiking trail and eight field research stations, helps to bridge the gap between science and land management through its exciting educational programs. The DHHS GSP team will work with CCA’s Education staff to develop and refine new STEM programs that can be shared with other high school classes.

The GSP students will conduct a study in the marine protected area off the coast of Crystal Cove State Beach during the Marine Protected Area Citizen Science Cruise. Students will be trained on the use of equipment and procedures for each station and will be part of the 5-Year Adaptive Management Review Process. At one station, students will conduct water quality experiments to check the pH, temperature and salinity at different depths. A second station will identify species and quantity of kelp forest fish populations using an underwater video camera. The third station is a plankton tow and water clarity station. Students will identify the plankton and fish eggs from the plankton tow to analyze the biodiversity in the marine protected area. Data from schools participating on the Marine Protected Area Citizen Science Cruises throughout the school year will be collected by the GSP students for analysis.

The students will also design a lab field station using trap cameras at the Berns Environmental Study Loop located in Crystal Cove for future students and teachers to use during a field trip. The students will begin by investigating the roles that different animals play in the ecosystem, their feeding habits, plants that are native and invasive to the area and if there are trespassers/ evidence of human activity affecting the wildlife using the trap cameras. The students will analyze the trap camera videos throughout the year and make a report on the data collected. Any aerial surveys of the area will also be analyzed and incorporated into their report. The students will make some management recommendation for Crystal Cove State Park and Crystal Cove Alliance at the end of the project in addition to producing a hands-on lab station using the trap cameras.