Salesian Students Work on Project Ocean
Learning Conservation First Hand
By Joey Silva
For three years now, students at Salesian Elementary and Junior High School have been busy working on their 50-acre campus, in the school’s Life Lab, and along the Monterey Bay with gardening efforts for their Ocean Guardian Projects.
Salesian is entering its third year being supported by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association) via the Ocean Guardian School Program.
Through this program, Salesian students work to protect the ocean and watershed through smart practices and projects that promote healthy ecosystems through the planting of native species, removal of invasive plant species, water conservation, erosion control, reuse of materials, and reducing waste in the garden environment.
To date, students have planted 18 fruit trees in their mini orchard, planted over 100 native or drought- tolerant trees and shrubs on campus, collected more than 5,500 gallons of rainwater, and have teamed up with the City of Monterey for a dune restoration project at Del Monte Beach as well as a native tree planting in Quarry Park.
“The Ocean Guardian School program has taught me about the importance of conservation and steps I can take to protect the ocean,” said Taj, a sixth grade student at Salesian. “I live close to the ocean and love to go surfing, so I want to make sure it stays clean and safe.”
For their big project last year, students built a native plant demonstration garden on campus to showcase the benefit of native plants in the land- scape. Native plants promote biodiversity, create a habitat for birds and animals, conserve water, reduce carbon pollution, are low-maintenance, require no pesticides/fertilizers, and fit into the larger landscape matrix making them a much smarter choice for coastal California homeowners.
“Our NOAA Ocean Guardian Schools have proven over and over again that by working hard to make changes on land, we can protect the health of our watersheds and ocean,” said Seaberry Nachbar, Ocean Guardian School Program Director. “Salesian School is a great example of how we are showing students that they CAN make a difference. One native plant at a time.”
This year, they have set their goals even higher. The proposed Ocean Guardian project for the school year is to remove 1,500 square feet of invasive ice plant (Carpobrotus edulis) on a south-facing hillside, and plant in its place an oak woodland with Coast Live Oak trees (Quercus agrifolia) with an understory of native shrub and grass species. So far, all of the ice plant has been removed and eleven of the proposed twenty-two oak trees have been planted. This may seem like it is a big undertaking for little hands, but these students are up for the task.
“The Ocean Guardian School Program has empowered our students to take active roles in protecting their ocean and local environment through programs that allow them to get their hands dirty, work hard, and see tangible results,” said Salesian Principal, Sr. Carmen Botella. “We’re so grateful for NOAA’s support through the Ocean Guardian Schools Program and I’m looking forward to seeing the kids take on even more ambitious projects.”
Salesian Elementary and Junior High School serves students in TK- 8th grades. For information, please call 831-728-5518 or visit salesianschool.org.
Joey Silva is Salesian’s Ocean Guardian Project Coordintaor He also serves as a Docent at Point Lobos State Natural Reaerve