Showing posts tagged as "teen programs"

What makes WATCH a winner? Our “Watsonville Area Teens Conserving Habitats” program recently won a Noyce Foundation “Bright Lights” award for outstanding community engagement. Our Executive Director Julie Packard tells why. 

Learn more

High school senior Graham Foster wants a future in science when he graduates. He took a big step toward that goal when he joined 75 other students from Pajaro Valley High School, Aptos High School and Watsonville High School for the Aquarium’s Watsonville Area Teens Conserving Habitats (WATCH) program.

The award-winning education program begins with a two-week outdoor summer camp and continues through the school year. Boogie boarding, exploring riparian habitats and creating sand sculptures, combined with visits to organic farms and waste-water treatment plants immerse the teens in diverse habitats and introduce them to people who are making a difference in their community.

Alongside educators and local ecologists, the students learn scientific methods to evaluate the health of local wetland habitats. WATCH students gain a better understanding of ocean systems, and their commitment to ocean conservation issues grows stronger because of it. They also become more personally connected to the ocean, committed to conservation and confident in their ability to make informed, environmentally sound choices.

WATCH students continue their summer camp experience in the classroom the following year where they pursue a larger environmental project that involves community awareness and conservation. Several teens previously enrolled in WATCH programs have earned regional and national recognition for their conservation initiatives.

“The impact these high school students have on their community and surrounding environment is very impressive,” says Rita Bell, director of the Aquarium’s education programs. “Their enthusiasm for the environment, for learning and for one another, is infectious!”

Interested? Learn more about our education programs!

Girls rock science! In June, a group of bright middle school girls, mostly from Watsonville and Salinas, spent an afternoon untying themselves from a human knot and learning secret handshakes as part of a team building exercise. Later, the girls created their own blogs to document their experiences during a week-long summer camp.

The girls are participants in the Aquarium’s Young Women in Science program, which seeks to inspire interest in science and conservation among young women by introducing them to the marine life in and around Monterey Bay. The camp is presented in both English and Spanish, creating an inclusive setting for the girls to learn how they can help save the world’s oceans. 

The program is part of a long-term effort by the Aquarium to help young women aspire to careers in the sciences and math, and fight the notion that there’s no place for them in those fields. As part of this girl power groove, participants also get to meet women currently working in the sciences.

Learn more about our Young Women in Science program

The Aquarium Gets Awards for Sea Otter Conservation and Teen Programs

We’re flattered! The Aquarium earned two awards at this week’s annual meeting of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. These include a North American Conservation Award for our sea otter conservation program, as well as an achievement award for our Watsonville Area Teens Conserving Habitats (WATCH) program, which recognizes “the most significant innovative, productive, far-reaching, program to promote diversity.”

The Aquarium is the only institution in the country that routinely rescues and cares for stranded, ill or injured southern sea otters with the goal of release back to the wild. For the past 30 years, the sea otter program has played a key role in research and recovery efforts for this iconic marine mammal. It works to ensure their continued survival and recovery through rescue, rehabilitation and release of sea otter pups and adults; collaborative scientific research on the myriad threats that have slowed their recovery; and advocacy for policies that will support population recovery. Learn more

WATCH is a community-based program offered to students enrolled in Pajaro Valley High School and Watsonville High School in Santa Cruz County. The year-long program begins in summer and extends throughout the school year, providing students with an opportunity to engage in an in-depth exploration of ecosystems in their community. WATCH integrates academic learning, youth development and community-based conservation projects in a way that connects students with their community and the oceans. Students earn community service hours needed for graduation and are eligible for college scholarships from the Aquarium. Learn more.

About me

The Monterey Bay Aquarium, perched on the edge of a world-famous coastline, is your window to the wonders of the ocean. It’s located on historic Cannery Row in Monterey and is open daily except Christmas Day.

For more information about our animals and exhibits, and to view our live web cams, please visit

Hours of operation vary by season. Daily schedules and tickets are available on our website or by calling
(831) 648-4800.