Haystack Awareness Program
Expand the current youth environmental education programs of the Haystack Rock Awareness Program (HRAP) by incorporating citizen science monitoring of Sea Star Wasting Syndrome.By connecting children and young adults to the natural world, the Haystack Rock Awareness Program works to inspire environmental conservation and sustainability in our future leaders.
Sea Star Wasting disease is used to collectively describe die-offs of sea stars. This current wasting event was first reported on the Pacific Coast in June 2013, and has caused mass mortalities from Alaska to Southern California. The widespread severity of this event was very disconcerting to scientists and the public. Although researchers have found the cause of the disease, the sea star-associated densovirus (SSaDV), scientists are still very concerned about the longterm impacts of this die-off. Because of its geographic range, researchers have relied upon citizen groups to collect data. In collaboration with the Multi-Agency Rocky Intertidal Network (MARINe), HRAP has began monitoring the sea star populations at Haystack Rock.
Our goal is to incorporate citizen science monitoring into our youth environmental education programs. Our current education curriculum is based on Oregon Science State Standards and focuses on students developing hypotheses about their bird and intertidal observations. By incorporating hands-on science and data collection, we hope to increase students’ excitement about the natural world, and because the data they will be collecting is important and meaningful to scientists, we also hope that student participants become avid stakeholders in their coastal resources.
Before the students visit the beach, we will train them in the classroom. They will learn about the wasting syndrome, the implications of the sea star die-off, and MARINe’s monitoring protocol. We will also present information about other citizen science projects and encourage them to think of their own projects. We would like to visit several high schools who participate in our field trip programs every year. We would also like to visit our local high school’s Marine Biology class in Seaside. Seaside High School lacks the funding to participate on the beach, thus part of this grant will be providing funds for their bus. Our goal is to involve at least three groups in this project. We estimate that 50 to 100 students will be impacted by this project. Seaside High School will be assisting us with our quarterly survey on April 20th. The other high school groups will be visiting on various dates in May. The data collected will be compiled and utilized by MARINe, HRAP, and the participating groups.
The success of this project will be evaluated by surveying the students before and after they participate in monitoring. Questions will evaluate the student’s excitement for and understanding of citizen science. The sea star data summaries and the participant surveys will be sent to YLACES.