CHULA VISTA, CALIF. – The Living Coast Discovery Center, a nonprofit zoo and aquarium on San Diego Bay in Chula Vista, announced today that it has received an $89,150 grant from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) as part of the SoCal Urban Wildlife Refuge Project.
The grant will enable the Living Coast to connect urban youth with nature and wildlife through a variety of programs, including field trips, teacher trainings, and refuge-based activities at the Sweetwater Marsh Unit of the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
Students in grades three through 12 will be able to participate in the Refuge Living Lab, an interactive field trip led by a trained Living Coast educator that focuses on the importance of wildlife refuges and environmental conservation. Students will participate in a variety of experiential learning activities, including the planting of native vegetation, animal encounters, scientific experiments and trail hikes on the refuge.
The USFWS grant allows students from local underserved and Title 1 schools to participate in these standards-based programs at no cost. This is the fourth year that the Living Coast will offer its Refuge Living Lab field trips thanks to the SoCal Urban Wildlife Refuge Project.
“When kids are able to get outside and experience nature and wildlife up-close, it’s incredibly powerful,” said Ben Vallejos, executive director of the Living Coast Discovery Center. “We’re thankful for our partnership with U.S. Fish & Wildlife, which provides the opportunity for us to share these special educational experiences with young people every day.”
“Our urban national wildlife refuges are special places for all people to engage with nature,” said Andy Yuen, project leader for the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex. “They are places for people to enjoy the outdoors, and partners like the Living Coast Discovery Center provide stepping stones for children and families to explore urban national wildlife refuges.”
The Living Coast also partnered with USFWS, its neighbor on Sweetwater Marsh, for a specialon Sept. 29. More than 150 guests spent the day exploring the refuge and connecting with wildlife, through a variety of activities, including guided hikes, nature challenges, wildlife presentations and discovery tables, as well as the opportunity to meet a special law enforcement wildlife inspector – “Lockett,” the black Labrador retriever.
About the Living Coast Discovery Center
The Living Coast Discovery Center, a 501(c)3 educational zoo and aquarium located within the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge on Sweetwater Marsh, began operating as a non-profit in 2010 after assuming operations of the Chula Vista Nature Center. The Living Coast Discovery Center offers hands-on exhibits and up-close encounters with plant and animal species native to Southern California coastal habitats, including endangered sea turtles, sting rays, leopard sharks, jellies, shorebirds, reptiles and a large collection of raptors such as hawks, falcons, owls, American bald eagle, golden eagle, and more. More information about the Living Coast Discovery Center is available at www.thelivingcoast.org or (619) 409-5900.