Defenders of marine life

Defenders of marine life

LOS ANGELES –Los Angeles Waterkeeper, is letting teens play a part in the organization’s mission to protect and restore L.A. County waterways and oceans as a new partnership with local non-profits puts youth at the forefront of protecting marine life.

The partnership between L.A. Waterkeeper, Venice YouthBuild and New Earth teaches at-risk youth about environmental issues, while expanding community involvement to raise awareness on protecting and restoring local waterways. Through the partnership, youths from both programs spend their volunteer hours on L.A. Waterkeeper’s marine Protected Areas (MPA) Watch Boat Trips.

“The volunteers from New Earth and Venice YouthBuild serve as citizen scientists surveying human activity in and around Marine Protected Areas during our MPA Watch Boat Trips. The youths take part in an experiential learning process that builds new skills while opening up new perspectives on how our interactions with each other affects the earth, its oceans, and our sense of community,” said Michael Quill, Community Programs manager for L.A. Waterkeeper. “The youth and I continue to learn from each other as we build bridges of dialogue and connection between our diverse communities, and break down barriers that prevent education.”

The teens help to monitor human uses of the Santa Monica Bay waters around the restricted fishing MPAs. Volunteers are trained aboard the Waterkeeper boat to crew the trips, collect data and educate the fishing community about the MPAs – areas of the ocean where human activities such as fishing are limited or restricted in an effort to protect and conserve marine life.

For groups like Venice YouthBuild and New Earth, the program is the first and only opportunity for participants to see the ocean and marine life in its natural habitat, according to the L.A. Waterkeeper.

“For nearly one year, New Earth has collaborated with L.A. Waterkeeper to invite youth involved with New Earth’s programs to volunteer on MPA Watch,” said Harry Grammer, founder/CEO of New Earth Organization. “After each Waterkeeper trip the young men have talked about having a renewed sense of feeling alive, living on purpose, and contributing to a worthy cause. Many of them have never been on a boat in the ocean and these trips have made a huge impact on the way they see the world.”

New Earth, a non-profit organization that creates new worlds for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated youth, take their students from correction to introspection to new direction.

“L.A. Waterkeeper has already made a transformative impact on the lives of the youth who participated in the first two volunteer trips we’ve gone on,” said Omar A. Muhammad, YouthBuild director of Venice Community Housing.

Venice YouthBuild provides education, job training and leadership development services to 40 out-of-school and out-of work youth ages 17 to 24 each year to help them transition into successful adulthoods.

For more information, visit LAWaterkeeper.org.

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