State of the Beach/Model Programs/Education and Outreach

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Education and Outreach

Below, examples pertaining to public education and outreach follow Surfrider Foundation's findings and recommendations in this area.

FINDING: Very little information is designed to inform the public about the health of our beaches. In many cases a wealth of technical and scientific data exists for specific beach sites around the nation as "gray literature" in academic journals or studies that line the bookshelves of coastal zone management offices. This information may help professionals make policy decisions. However, it is often not made available to the public or it is not written in a way that is easily understood by the average citizen. This lack of public education is alarming. It leaves the public without an adequate understanding about how government policies and decisions affect beach health and severely limits their ability to ensure that public interests are considered equitably in the decision-making process.

RECOMMENDATION: Increase public awareness. For all interests to be equally represented it is essential that the decision-making process be fully participatory. Educating the public about the economic and cultural values of coastal and ocean resources, the complexity of these resource-related issues, and the intricacies of the decision-making process will help to make this happen. States have a vital role to play in giving public education the attention it deserves. One thing they can do is to develop user-friendly information. States can also make this information more accessible by using advances in technology that make it easier to share.

Program Examples - Websites






These are good examples of how the internet can help to address education and outreach needs. However, not everybody has Web access and it is not the only means of providing education and outreach. What follow are some examples of more hands-on grass roots efforts needed to compliment the use of information technology.

Program Examples - Alternative Techniques


A great feature on the California Coastal Commission (CCC) website is their public education page. This site provides links to a range of CCC education/outreach activities including their Save our Seas Children's Poster Art Contest and their Coastal License Plate Program.


Project WET (Water Education for Teachers) is an international, interdisciplinary, water science and education program for formal and non-formal educators of K-12 students. The goal of the Project WET program is to facilitate and promote the awareness, appreciation, knowledge, and stewardship of water resources through the development and dissemination of classroom ready teaching aids and the establishment of state and internationally sponsored Project WET programs.

There is also NEMO (Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials) program, part of the Connecticut Sea Grant’s Clean Waters program.


Florida’s publications include:

  • Coastal Currents, the quarterly newsletter of the Florida Coastal Management Program.
  • Building in Paradise, a brochure outlining some of the ways coastal construction differs from inland development and questions to ask when building and living on Florida's coasts.
  • Purchasing Paradise, a companion brochure to Building in Paradise, provides information on how to wisely choose your coastal property in order to minimize the chances of personal injury and property damage, and suggestions on how to be a good environmental steward.


According to the 2001 MCZM Assessment, Public Education and Outreach CZM partnered with the Department of Environmental Management and local teachers to develop the Classroom to Coast (CTC) curriculum guidelines. CTC is a coastal access education program that brings together science, social studies, and the arts in an exploration of coastal access issues. The goal is to encourage students, teachers and parents to acquaint themselves with the coastal environment and become stewards for Massachusetts' coastal access points. Since 1998, North Shore students have explored community values and beliefs surrounding issues such as waterfront development, wildlife management, pet waste on beaches, recreational impacts, and endangered species. For each project, students have developed stewardship plans and projects to provide information to decision makers in their communities.

Massachusetts has an ocean education program which includes an ocean education guide that assists K-12 educators in teaching about ocean resources. In addition, the program has a research aspect.

Massachusetts’ Sea Grant has held workshops on shoreline management discussing local and national issues on coastal erosion. Contact Jim O’Connell at (508) 289-2993 for more information.

Woods Hole Sea Grant has several educational resources for the general public.

The shoreline in Chatham, Massachusetts is monitored by Jim O'Connell, a coastal geologist for Woods Hole Sea Grant and Cape Cod Cooperative Extension, and volunteers from the local town. The technique known as Emery Rod profiling is used here to take a series of measurements along a slice of beach. The beach profiles collected by residents can be useful tools to help communities manage their beaches for the future.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute’s (WHOI) Sea Grant Program and Cape Cod Cooperative Extension have released the DVD, Coastal Landforms, Coastal Processes and Erosion Control on Cape Cod & Southern Plymouth, Massachusetts, which features visits to 11 sites including beaches, dunes, barrier beaches, coastal banks, and salt marshes. Experts discuss the interactive coastal processes that created and allow for the continued existence of these important resources and examine a variety of coastal erosion control alternatives. In addition, the DVD presents regulatory issues associated with living along the shore and in coastal floodplains of the Commonwealth. To get a free copy, contact WHOI’s [mailto: Sheri DeRosa].

Here is a link to a Massachusetts CZM fact sheet on shoreline change.


Check out the Citizen's Guide to the Oregon Coastal Management Program and also these additional education resources.

Additional important websites are:

The Oregon Coastal Management Program partnered with Oregon Sea Grant to create Living on the Edge, Building and Buying Property on the Oregon Coast. The 25-minute DVD is intended to influence the behavior of prospective coastal property buyers and builders by giving them a "reality check" on the unique risks that come with developing along the ocean shore, and explaining the steps that should be taken to avoid problems.


Puerto Rico Coastal Management Program (PRCMP) is to be commended for its leadership role in community education and outreach activities. In addition to activities geared toward the general public such as annual workshops, the Summer Camp program, and the Coastweek Program, PRCMP has taken on the important challenge of educating coastal decision-makers, land managers, educators, and students. PRCMP is very active in promoting the functions and objectives of the coastal program and promoting the Island's coastal resources. Some highlights include:

Talks were given to elementary, junior, and high school students from the San Juan, Mayaguez, and Humacao Regions on coastal zone resources and endangered species. A total of 1,200 students attended these presentations.

Science Fair/Environmental Coastal Workshops. Winners of science fair projects receive invitations from environmental educators to participate in a week of field activities such as reforestation of natural vegetation in significant commonwealth lands, field trips, and workshops at Natural Reserves. They received participation certificates, T-shirts, caps, pencils, environmental information, and posters.

Environmental Education Workshops. Held at the Natural Reserve of Isla Caja de Muertos, the Natural Reserve of Humacao, and Guanica Forest Natural Reserve, these workshops covered such topics as natural resource protection, natural reserves designation, and coral reefs. They included technical and educational personnel, DNER Rangers, and infrastructure agencies. Field trips were offered to surrounding coastal areas, thus enabling participants to work on projects such as plan identification and interpretive map design.

A coral reef workshop was held in JBNERR to prepare an educational program to be included in the Puerto Rico Coral Reef Plan. Participants included the environmental education staff of DNER, the Puerto Rico Department of Education, the Sea Grant Program, the University of Puerto Rico, and the Coralation and Reefkeeper organizations.

PRCMP participates in meetings, events, and exhibitions to promote the work of the program by showing exhibits of different components of the coastal forests, marshes, natural reserves, cumulative impacts, coral reefs, wetlands, and Special Planning Areas.

Brochures outlining the program implementation and work in the Natural Reserves are targeted toward coastal municipalities of Puerto Rico and key government officials. These are distributed during activities, events, and exhibitions. PRCMP also produces an informative newsletter on goals and objectives and the activities of the program throughout the year. (Source: NOAA's 2001 Puerto Rico Section 312 Evaluation)


To build public awareness about beachfront erosion problems, a 90-minute film has been produced on beach and hazard management issues. The South Carolina Coastal Council has used mass media to communicate and respond to heightened awareness of SCCC events.


The Dune Protection and Improvement Manual describes simple, low-cost methods that public and private property owners can use to preserve, repair, and enhance sand dunes. It summarizes laws and regulations that may apply to dune improvement projects. The manual also includes sources of further information and technical help.