By Chris Lim
Dolores Park. Mexican food. Colorful Murals. Olympia oysters?
The first three are synonymous with San Francisco’s Mission District. Olympia oysters on the other hand are not… yet. The Living Shoreline Initiative is proud to partner with Mission High School, Mission Graduates, and the San Francisco Unified School District to provide our high school native oyster curriculum, Wild! Oysters, to summer school students.
This is our first opportunity to provide Wild! Oysters during the summer. Mission High School students needing to make up biology credits participated in the seven-session program, including two field trips. Each session builds on the previous one, ensuring a cohesive program.
While the curriculum’s central focus is oysters native to San Francisco Bay, we want students to understand the dynamic marine environment surrounding them and how each decision they make can affect that environment, either positively or negatively. We illustrate how oysters, the ocean, and the San Francisco Bay estuary, together with local history, culture and volunteerism interconnect with students’ lives.
While science is the foundation of the program, we seek to engage other parts of students’ brains. Our suite of hands-on activities gives an opportunity for students to express themselves creatively and use art, public speaking, role-playing and critical thinking skills to shine in the classroom. We challenge students through inquiry-based learning.
But what would summer school be without field trips? Our first field trip is to Point Pinole Regional Park, home of The Watershed Project’s native oyster restoration project. We will place oyster reef balls along the shoreline in order to provide a hard base for baby oysters to attach. But how will we know if the reef balls and the attached oysters are effective in creating positive ecosystem effects up the food web? With the help of our students, we’ve performed transect studies at the project site to survey and catalog the biodiversity. This baseline data will be compared to replicate studies performed after installation of the oyster reef. If the reef balls are indeed effective, we would expect to see more biodiversity, including oysters, along the shoreline. Students get hands-on experience with field science and use their senses to connect to their environment.
The second field trip is to Pickleweed Point Community Shellfish Farm in Marshall, CA. This farm allows interested citizens the opportunity to farm their own oysters. Wild! Oysters partners with the farm so students can experience being oyster farmers for a day. Students count oyster “seed” (small oysters approximately one half inch long) into nylon oyster bags and place the bags onto the farm. This unique experience helps students understand the connection between pristine water quality and oysters.
Wild! Oysters is designed to inspire future generations of environmental stewards. We hope to see our students shaping their environment in positive ways, both through their choices and volunteering with us on oyster workdays.
If you are interested in learning more about Wild! Oysters, please contact email@example.com