CHULA VISTA, CALIF. –The Living Coast Discovery Center, a nonprofit zoo and aquarium located on San Diego Bay in Chula Vista, has been awarded a $25,000 Environmental Champions grant from long-time partner San Diego Gas & Electric.
Each year, SDG&E’s Environmental Champions initiative supports non-profit organizations whose programs promote environmental education, community engagement and stewardship to the K-12 populations of underserved communities in San Diego and southern Orange counties.
This is the sixth consecutive year that SDG&E has supported education programs at The Living Coast. This year, the funding will support Our Wild San Diego, a classroom-based environmental education program for students in underserved and Title 1 schools that are unable to travel to The Living Coast due to lack of transportation funding. Our Wild San Diego offers over 20 standards-based programs for K-12 students, which include animal interactions, dissections and the hands-on use of scientific tools. The SDG&E funding will serve 70 classes reaching up to 2,000 students in San Diego County.
Our Wild San Diego provides science education that instills an early awareness of the importance of protecting and conserving our local environment, and aligns with current Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core. The purpose of the program is to encourage youth to actively participate in the learning experience, promote environmental stewardship, and develop critical thinking and research skills.
In a survey conducted by The Living Coast, 38 percent of teachers indicated that their schools lacked funding for transportation to visit The Living Coast. By bringing Our Wild San Diego into classrooms, local students are able to receive environmental education regardless of financial circumstances.
“These fun, hands-on learning experiences have a very strong impact on kids and they go a long way in instilling a lifelong love of science and environmental stewardship,” said Ben Vallejos, executive director of the Living Coast Discovery Center. “We are proud to partner with SDG&E to make these opportunities available to more kids in our community.”
SDG&E is The Living Coast’s largest corporate partner, having contributed more than $250,000 in sponsorships and grants to support various educational programs at The Living Coast over the years. In 2015, SDG&E established a $2 million endowment through The San Diego Foundation—the Living Coast Discovery Center South Bay Enhancement Fund—to support the continued operation of The Living Coast’s environmental education programs, and the public’s access and enjoyment of the San Diego Bay.
“Our Wild San Diego will give students the tools, knowledge and passion to enable them to become our region’s next generation of environmental stewards,” said SDG&E Chief Environmental Officer and Vice President of Operations Support and Sustainability, Mike Schneider. “The Living Coast Discovery Center does incredible work protecting our natural resources not only today, but for generations to come.”
The Living Coast Discovery Center offers San Diego families a unique wildlife and nature experience in its mission to inspire care and exploration of the living Earth by connecting people with coastal animals, plants and habitats.
Uniquely situated within a national wildlife refuge just 10 minutes from downtown San Diego, The Living Coast features animal species native to the region, including endangered Pacific green sea turtles, leopard sharks, stingrays, shorebirds, hawks, owls, and more.
The Living Coast Discovery Center welcomes nearly 70,000 visitors each year. Roughly 20,000 students from 266 local schools throughout the region participate in organized school field trips to learn about the importance of watershed ecology, habitat preservation and environmental conservation. Wildlife day camps, scientific career exploration, teen internships, and teacher training and resource development are also key components of The Living Coast’s environmental education program.
About Living Coast Discovery Center
The zoo/aquarium now known as Living Coast Discovery Center, opened on the Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge in 1987. The facility was operated by the City of Chula Vista until late-2009, when it transitioned to a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. In April 2012, it was re-branded as the Living Coast Discovery Center in preparation for the center’s 25th anniversary. Living Coast Discovery Center offers hands-on exhibits and up-close encounters with 350 plant and animal species native to Southern California coastal habitats. More information about the Living Coast Discovery Center is available at www.thelivingcoast.org.
About San Diego Gas & Electric
SDG&E is an innovative San Diego-based energy company that provides safe, reliable, clean energy to better the lives of the people it serves in San Diego and southern Orange counties. More than 4,300 employees work to provide the most reliable and clean energy in the West. The company has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for leadership in addressing climate change, was the first to meet California’s goal of delivering 33 percent of energy from renewable sources, has fueled the adoption of electric vehicles and energy efficiency through unique customer programs, and supports more than 600 non-profit partners. SDG&E is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego. For more information visit sdge.com/newsroom or connect with SDG&E on Twitter (@SDGE), Instagram (@SDGE) and Facebook.