By Devin McDonald
Local elementary school students will soon get the rare opportunity to learn about ocean conservation—from other students.
As part of Emily Kopania’s Girl Scout Gold Award project, students from Oak Ridge High School’s own ocean conservation club Walk the Talk, or WaTa, will host the first Ocean Fest on April 30. At Ocean Fest elementary school students can play games, win prizes and have fun while learning about ocean conservation. Events will include an interactive watershed model, a mock tide pool and other conservation-themed games.
The event will be held from 10 a.m. to noon at Oak Ridge High School, and is open to all elementary school students. Parents of the students are encouraged to attend.
WaTa is comprised of Oak Ridge High School students interested in ocean and water conservation. Along with fundraising, planning and hosting Ocean Fest, WaTa helps promote water conservation by monitoring local creeks.WaTa also participates in Silva Valley Elementary School’s “No Child Left Inside” initiative on May 13.
Emily Kopania, a 17-year-old junior at Oak Ridge High School, founded WaTa and Ocean Fest as part of her Gold Award project. The Gold Award is the highest achievement within Girl Scouting. Applicants must complete a series of rigorous requirements that test skills learned throughout their scouting careers. The final and most challenging requirement is the Gold Award project, which must fulfill a need in the local or global community and inspire ongoing change to make the world a better place.
For her project, Kopania is working with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Teen Programs to find ways to get more teens involved in ocean conservation. She has hosted two separate focus groups with students from Oak Ridge and the Aquarium’s Teen Programs to brainstorm ideas for her project. Together, they came up with the Walk the Talk conservation club. Emily frequently surveys WaTa on the group’s challenges and successes, and the aquarium uses this information to improve upon its own teen programs.Kopania hopes to make Ocean Fest an annual event, and possibly expand the WaTa program to other schools in the area.
For more information on Ocean Fest and Walk the Talk visit the WaTa sites.google.com/site/orhswalkthetalk/home.