In December 2006, Surfrider Field Staff established two Blue Water Task Force testing laboratories in Oregon High Schools. Both labs were funded by regional Packard Foundation grants, with funds requested by Oregon Surfrider staff. The labs are in the West Linn High School for the Portland Chapter and Pacific High School for the Port Orford Organizing Committee. The West Linn lab will analyze both fresh and marine water samples. This variety of samples may display the terrestrial souce to marine pollution. Local volunteers, Andy Bartley, Melissa Gilbert and West Linn science teacher Jamie Kelso have worked hard to establish this lab. The Port Orford lab will analyze nearshore samples collected by volunteers and students and offshore samples collected by Port Orford fishermen. Pacific High School science teacher Michael Smith is very enthusiastic about having the testing equipment in the classroom. Surfrider staff presented to three of Mr. Smith’s classes discussing the importance of water testing and the variety of the uses of the data.
BWTF is Surfrider Foundation – Oregon Chapter’s flagship program. The program has served as the most effective tool for recruiting new coastal volunteers – where our chapter network is weakest and yet most important. The BWTF is the primary catalyst for policy advancement by involving the volunteers in pollution solutions (ecosystem-based management), marine conservation discussions, Oregon’s Beach Monitoring Program and watershed education events.
Surfrider volunteers and staff have been working to match Surfrider’s Respect The Beach curriculum to Oregon’s science education benchmarks. Portland volunteer Jocelyn Gary recently completed this task. The BWTF lab classrooms will be a valuable scenario to link the RTB materials to BWTF activities and assure teachers that the Surfrider presentation matches science curriculum standards.