Posts Tagged ‘dana point ocean institute’


DANA POINT -(CA)- Kami Parsa, a fifth-grader at Westpark Elementary School in Irvine, loves worms.

Well, maybe she doesn’t love them, but they were the 10-year-old’s favorite part of this year’s Kids’ Conferences on Watersheds hosted by Dana Point’s Ocean Institute.

Article Tab: A young couple stands together last Tuesday afternoon near the Dana Point Tidepools where students began a study in September and October on watersheds, culiminating this week with final reports on their projects.
A young couple stands together last Tuesday afternoon near the Dana Point Tidepools where students began a study in September and October on watersheds, culiminating this week with final reports on their projects.
The ninth annual program, involving about 2,200 Southern California fifth-graders, began Jan. 9 and continues through Tuesday. The students have worked since September and October on projects meant to illustrate the importance of watersheds and how they contribute to a healthy ocean environment. The conferences feature presentations from area experts.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defines a watershed as an “area of land where all the water that is under it or drains off it goes into the same place,” such as a river, an ocean or another body of water. The EPA quotes geographer John Wesley Powell as saying a watershed is an area “within which all living things are inextricably linked by their common water course.”

Given the task of investigating the watershed they live in, students put together their own studies of the effects on ocean health of pollution, land use and natural events.

A watershed is separated from other watersheds by elevated land features defining that area as unique. Orange County has 14 distinct watersheds; the continental United States has more than 2,100, according to the EPA.

South Orange County has four watersheds: Aliso Creek, Salt Creek, San Clemente and San Juan Creek, which has an overall surface area of almost 160 square miles.

Kami’s fifth-grade class did a project titled “Benthic Habitat Viability Study,” aimed at testing the ecology of Balboa Bay where the Newport Bay Watershed drains.

The class collected mud from the bottom of Balboa Bay and placed Neanthes worms in it to see whether the mud would provide a healthy environment for them. The worms are a sensitive marine species also called clam or pile worms.

The baseline for the study came from the students’ time aboard an Ocean Institute vessel last fall checking out the worms’ habitat in the open ocean. Those worms thrived; the worms in the Balboa Bay mud didn’t make it.

The results led Westpark Elementary fifth-grader Jeremy Rim, 10, to a conclusion:

“Respect nature,” he said.

  • VIDEO: Students experience O.C.’s watersheds

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"I try to honor God in everything."

DANA POINT – (CA) – Donors and fundraisers who played a big role in helping the Maddie James Foundation raise $1 million in about three months to help fund an upcoming Ocean Institute learning center in honor of the late Capistrano Beach girl were rewarded Sunday night with dinner with pro surfer Bethany Hamilton, who inspired the recent biographical movie “Soul Surfer.”

Hamilton, 21, of Hawaii, who became known worldwide after losing her arm at age 13 in a shark attack in 2003, hosted the dinner at the Ocean Institute. She learned about Maddie during the 5-year-old’s fight with an inoperable brain tumor that led to her death in March.

The James' have waited a long time to have something to smile about.

Professional surfer Bethany Hamilton, 21, of Hawaii, who lost her left arm in a shark attack when she was 13, says a blessing at a dinner she hosted Sunday evening at the Ocean Institute in Dana Point. The event honored key donors and fundraisers who helped the Maddie James Foundation meet its $1 million goal toward the institute’s upcoming Maddie James Seaside Learning Center.

“How can your heart not go out to this little girl?” Hamilton said. “We share the same love – the love of the ocean.”

Maddie, who counted the Ocean Institute among her favorite places, often drew pictures of sea creatures she learned about on trips to the institute.

Fourteen donors were honored Sunday, receiving a lei – the traditional Hawaiian symbol of friendship – along with a T-shirt and a big hug from the 6-foot-tall Hamilton.

The foundation in May reached its fundraising goal for the Maddie James Seaside Learning Center. Dan Stetson, director of the Ocean Institute, said construction will begin in the fall.

She could not have had a bigger smile.

Maddie’s father, Collie James, said about $600,000 of the total was raised by individual donors like those honored Sunday, mostly as a result of their work setting up sponsorship teams and raising awareness through events such as the “A Mile for Maddie” walk in May, which the foundation plans to present again next year as a continuing effort to support operation of the learning center and to promote other ways to raise awareness of the ocean among children. The inaugural walk May 14 from Strand Beach to the Ocean Institute attracted about 1,000 people and raised $80,000.

“I just want to really thank Bethany for coming and making it so special for these donors,” James said. “It’s another example of how people from so many diverse backgrounds can come together to support learning about the ocean and this dream of our daughter.”

Zachary Alderson, 6, of San Clemente headed up about 50 people for the “Sea Turtle” team during the “Mile for Maddie” event, raising about $15,000. Zachary shared a desk in kindergarten with Maddie at St. Anne School in Laguna Niguel.

Good eats came from Zov's in Tustin.

Zachary’s father, Justin, said his son stayed up past 11 p.m. the day before the event to hand-color each team member’s sea turtle flag.

“We’d have ‘Change Day,’ where all the change from a purchase went into a bucket,” Alderson said. “He did everything – fliers, grandparents … it was constant.”

Kajsa James, Maddie’s mother, met Hamilton for the first time Sunday evening, sharing a hug and a few tears.

“People lose their children every day and not everyone gets a building named after them or someone like Bethany to help out,” Kajsa James said. “Now we have this place to bring children who can learn about loving the ocean as much as my daughter did.”

Hamilton, who said she sent messages about Maddie’s story to her fans and friends through Twitter and Facebook, said, “As sad as it is, it brings the community together.”

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Its all good at the Ocean Institute.


DANA POINT -(CA)-  A dozen young hospital patients got a day at the beach Thursday in Dana Point, paddleboarding, helping with a beach cleanup and taking a tour of the Ocean Institute’s tide pools and aquariums.

The event was part of the Surf & Paddle Summer Camp 2011 put on by Miracles for Kids, a Tustin-based nonprofit organization that supports children with cancer and other serious illnesses by helping their families with financial issues during the treatment period. Board member Tom Swanecamp said Thursday’s activities were meant to get the kids out of their normal routine of hospital visits, tests and treatments and get some hands-on knowledge of the beach and ocean while having fun on the water.

Oh, What a feeling....

Wyatt Colby, 5, reaches out to touch a sea slug held by Zoe Hunter, 7, of Fullerton during a visit to the Ocean Institute in Dana Point arranged by Miracles for Kids, a nonprofit organization that supports children with cancer and other serious illnesses.
The 7- to 16-year-olds departed from CHOC Children’s hospital in Orange, where CHOC bus driver Chano Moreno surprised them with balloon creations such as mermaids and monkeys. “These kids go through a lot, and seeing something different makes the kids happy,” he said.

“When we pulled off the freeway, one of the kids asked if we were really going to be paddleboarding,” Swanecamp said. “He thought it was a trick and we were really going back to the hospital.”

Alissa Dolegowski, 16, of San Clemente is blind, but with the help of Miracle for Kids volunteer Christina Kretschmer of Brentwood, she was able to explore several interactive tide pools and see what her hands told her about how sea cucumbers and anemones. They felt sticky while rough and soft at the same time, she said.

Just check'n it out.

Kretschmer found a hermit crab and was describing it, but Dolegowski drew the line.

“I’m not fond of crabs,” Dolegowski said. “The sea anemone was OK; he was trying to suck on my finger.”

Noah Wehner, 10, of San Clemente was diagnosed with leukemia seven years ago after he had what was first thought to be a spider bite on his elbow, said his mother, Amy. Though Noah is fully integrated in public school, having just completed fourth grade, he has endured a continuous series of tests, check-ups and treatments.

“Once we knew he could go (to Surf & Paddle Summer Camp) a couple of weeks ago, he has been counting the days,” Amy Wehner said. “During all this (his leukemia treatment), Noah has never complained. He is a happy boy.”

Noah agreed. “I’m just thankful I’m alive,” he said.

Sophia Colby, 7, of Rancho Santa Margarita said she most enjoyed petting the animals.

“I learned to paddleboard today and my daddy was jealous,” Colby said as she saw Boris, a giant lobster in the Ocean Institute’s “Underwater Forest” exhibit.

Her father, Patrick, said, “This is a good opportunity for the kids; it makes sure everything is clean and safe for the children.

“We wouldn’t be here without an affiliation with Miracles for Kids. We couldn’t do this without them,” he added.

Upon finishing their exploration of the Ocean Institute, each child was presented with a shirt as a souvenir of the journey.

It was all good with Andrew Whitford, 9, of Newport Beach. “My day was perfect,” he said.

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