On a Wednesday morning, a group of toddlers and their parents sang songs with Environmental Science Center naturalists overlooking the beach at Seahurst Park. The songs were designed to introduce the youngsters about beach etiquette before they made their way down to the beach to peep into tide pools to explore sea stars, sea anemones, and marine habitat.
“Look at that cool shell on the beach … on the beach is where it will stay, so I can see it another day” the group sang.
The Environmental Science Center, conveniently located adjacent to the beach in Seahurst Park, puts together a variety of programming to teach young people about environmental stewardship. In addition to teaching toddlers beach etiquette through a program called Tide Pools for Tots, the Environmental Science Center puts together a variety of public events and school programs designed to teach people of all ages to appreciate the environment.
The Beach Heroes program runs from March to June and introduces Highline School District students to local seaside habitats and the creatures that live there. After a classroom visit, naturalists lead children on field studies exploring the beach. Participating students commit to becoming environmental stewards and serving as beach heroes.
Beach Heroes was one of 11 first-round recipients of the Port of Seattle’s Airport Community Ecology (ACE) Small Matching Grants Fund. The Small Matching Grants Program offers community members of SeaTac, Burien, and Des Moines the chance to apply for up to $10,000 of Port funding to improve the local environment. Community organizations, chambers of commerce, service organizations, youth or athletic associations, or other associations located in or providing services in the cities of SeaTac, Burien, and Des Moines can apply for funding. The Port is currently accepting applications for its second round of grant funding. Applications are open through September 28.
“When we heard about the ACE Grant we thought it seemed like a great fit since we are close to Sea-Tac and pull from five different school districts,” said Tara Luckie, executive director of the Environmental Science Center.Environmental Stewardship
Luckie said the program exposes many students to an environment they may not normally be able to access. “A lot live one to two miles from the beach but have never been here.”
She said the goal of the program is for kids to “walk out on the beach and respect it.”
“Living in modern society, it can be challenging to connect to nature,” Luckie said. “Children need to start that connection at a young age so the next generation grows up appreciating and respecting the natural world.”
She said the program also provides STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education opportunities for the local community and gives students tangible examples of potential careers in science. High school students have the chance to work alongside naturalists at Environmental Science Center as junior naturalists and work directly with younger students in the program.
“It’s powerful for kids to see older kids doing that work,” she said.
Luckie said she really appreciates the Port’s role in supporting community programs which help make reaching these students a possibility.
We all need to work together to make sure the community is thriving.
“It takes a community; we all need to work together to make sure the community is thriving.”
The Port is holding a series of information sessions to answer questions and provide details about the grant program from 5:30-7 p.m.
Monday, August 13th, Valley View Library (17850 Military Rd. S, SeaTac, WA 98188)
Wednesday, August 29th, Des Moines Library (21620 11th Ave S, Des Moines, WA 98198)
Learn more more and complete an application for the ACE Fund program.