Teacher Toolkits and Tribal Traditions: The Humboldt Marine Protected Area Collaborative

Kids participating in beach clean up
Humboldt students participating in the Kid’s Ocean Day beach cleanup
photo by P. Cudahy

Humboldt County is home to some of the most remote marine protected areas (MPAs) in California. The county’s eight MPAs and two special closures are a part of the larger statewide network of 124 MPAs, managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). They include the Reading Rock State Marine Reserve (SMR), South Humboldt Bay State Marine Recreational Management Area, and a trio of SMRs between Cape Mendocino and Punta Gorda.

The Humboldt MPA Collaborative (HMPAC) provides local community input and serves as a community information source about MPA management. It is currently led by co-chairs Joe Tyburczy, the California Sea Grant Extension’s Marine Advisor stationed at Humboldt State University, and Angie Edmunds, a California State Parks MPA Interpreter based out of Eureka. These two co-chairs coordinate the HMPAC, which welcomes all participation from local citizens and organizations that care about MPAs.

The group is also fortunate to have strong participation and collaboration from the Trinidad Rancheria and other nearby tribal governments. The connection and participation of tribal governments in the HMPAC has allowed for their knowledge and history of the area to be shared with a wider audience. HMPAC helped to produce the video Tribal Traditions: Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation Marine Protected Area, one of four videos they helped to create in collaboration with CDFW, Humboldt State University filmmaker David Sheerer, the Del Norte MPA Collaborative, and the Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation to raise awareness of MPAs and tribal stewardship of the north coast. The other three videos produced include:

In addition to these four videos, the HMPAC, along with the Del Norte and Mendocino MPA collaboratives, have focused their efforts on creating educational materials about MPAs for classrooms and local youth programs. Co-chair Angie Edmunds, who has been actively involved in bringing MPA awareness to local school groups, said “Providing marine protected area programming to K-12 students requires the ability to inspire people to care for what they cannot see. The teacher toolkit helps to bring MPAs concepts to life through engaging, easy to use curriculum, fun visual aids and teaching tools, and place-based elements for north coast students. It’s a one-stop shop for formal and informal educators who are hoping to incorporate marine conservation topics into their programming.”

MPA Toolkit in practice
Shirley Louse, of the Trinidad Rancheria, using the MPA Toolkit to teach students about MPAs and traditional tribal practices at the Sumeg Village in Patrick’s Point State Park 
photo by A. Edmunds

The educational MPA Toolkit was created to inform students about California’s MPA Network and to provide informed stewardship and enjoyment of these special places. Humboldt County teachers have used these toolkits in the classroom and during on-site field trips to beaches and estuaries.

Members of the HMPAC have also integrated MPA curriculum in classrooms, and helped to organize Kid’s Ocean Day, an annual event that occurs in coastal cities throughout California, which involves hundreds of kids from each city. The HMPAC also works with local California State Parks interpreters to integrate MPA modules into the Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students (PORTS) virtual learning program into local and statewide classrooms.

Humboldt County MPA Collaborative LogoThe Humboldt MPA Collaborative is part of a larger statewide MPA Collaborative Network, with 14 local collaboratives loosely organized by coastal county. Anyone is welcome to join an MPA collaborative, attend meetings, and help with projects. MPA collaboratives are always looking to expand their membership and increase stakeholder representation. If you’d like to get involved, please find an MPA collaborative near you and reach out to the co-chairs to join the mailing list and ask about their next meeting.

MPA Collaborative Network logoThis article is part of a series featuring California MPA Collaboratives. The first two articles, produced in PDF format, are found here.

post by Michael Prall, CDFW Environmental Scientist

Read archived MPA News and newsletter articles for more stories and information about California’s marine protected areas!