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This document describes the Hispanic component of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary's Multicultural Education Plan, a multi-agency collaboration to expand marine conservation education and outreach efforts to local Hispanic communities.

Areas of Focus and Program Goals

The Hispanic population of the central California coast is one of the largest and fastest-growing constituencies of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, but is poorly reached by current Sanctuary outreach and resource threat reduction programs. This Multicultural Education Plan, known as "MERITO" (Multicultural Education for Resource Issues Threatening Oceans), has been designed in partnership with the local Hispanic community to provide expanded bilingual ocean and conservation-related outreach programs to Hispanic students, teachers, adults and families living near the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS). Through enhanced knowledge of the Sanctuary and its associated watersheds, our diverse citizens will better understand the importance of protecting our resources and their special qualities. The Multicultural Education Plan includes three areas of focus:

  1. 1. A Professional Development Program for Hispanic teachers, undergraduate and graduate level students, to include the production of a set of universal, Spanish-language bilingual curricula and materials that can be utilized by other National Marine Sanctuaries, and beyond,
  2. 2. A Site-Based Bilingual Ocean Outreach Program for Hispanic youth and families in conjunction with California State Parks, National Estuarine Research Reserves and other partners, and
  3. 3. A Community-Based Bilingual Ocean Outreach Program for Hispanic youth, families, and migrant farm workers.

Process and Products

The MERITO (Spanish meaning is merit or worth) Plan was built in a systematic manner over a three-month period of information exchange with over thirty local groups that work with or within the Hispanic community. Through these meetings, the MBNMS has worked with Hispanic representatives to 1) identify the critical gaps and "areas of need" (summarized in Appendix A.), 2) plan a series of partnership projects that address Hispanic community needs and build upon successful existing community programs, and 3) develop strategies for implementing and evaluating the partnership projects.

This plan will utilize a multi-level approach in order to reach young children, youth, families and adults in a variety of different ways. It will provide a variety of program offerings throughout the year targeting various groups within the Hispanic community. For example, a collaborative project with the Monterey County Office of Education Migrant Education Centers will provide educational materials and instruction for school age Hispanic children and presentations for their parents. A partnership with the city of Salinas will provide field trip preparation and instruction for an "at-risk" youth program. At the same time, community events planned in cooperation with some of the major agricultural growers would attract participation by migrant workers and their families. This approach will optimize a vital component in effective education and outreach—the ability to develop and nurture long-term relationships. We are confident that a multi-pronged approach to public education will help us to build and sustain strong community relationships.

The strength of this plan is that the MBNMS will be the hub for a long-term, multi-faceted collaborative program that is a product of the community, for the community. Local Hispanic organizations will continue to provide their services to the community, but the Sanctuary will help generate the people power and funding required to expand existing efforts and to initiate new programs. The plan will reflect the specific needs of our Hispanic community and in doing so will help to catalyze necessary support from other agencies in the area. Twenty federal and state agencies, universities, and private groups are already onboard to support efforts described in this plan. Through this program, the MBNMS will be able to effectively address resource threat reduction in the context of the needs of the Hispanic communities.

It is important to realize that through it's Multicultural Education Plan, the MBNMS will be in a better position to serve its entire constituency during the process of the review and revision of the MBNMS Management Plan. Since over 40% of Monterey County's population is Hispanic, it is evident that the Sanctuary needs to focus on constituent-building activities within the Hispanic community. This plan will help to facilitate communication between managers, educators, and the general public. Timely and pertinent information will be exchanged between all parties through the expanded outreach and education efforts. In addition, this plan requires integration and exchange across all departments within the Sanctuary office. The education programs will link Hispanic students and teachers to research tools and information such as Geographic Information Systems and link migrant farm workers to vital resource protection information developed within the Sanctuary's Water Quality Protection Program Agricultural Plan.

The Multicultural Education Plan has been designed to serve as a collaborative network long into the future and will have a phased approach with periodic external evaluation and review. The first phase of the collaborative plan will include implementation of a number of local pilot projects instituting the various plan components (proposed to begin in 2001). A second phase of expanded programming will incorporate international efforts with Baja California and Mexico, with three following years needed for full-scale implementation throughout the Sanctuary and with other regional partners.

Areas of Need

Informational meetings with over thirty Hispanic agencies and organizations have resulted in a list of critical needs that must be addressed in order for the MBNMS to provide effective multicultural education. The needs were evaluated and grouped into common themes:

  1. Outreach Instruction - provide bilingual education staff for in-school and community-based programs that focus on Sanctuary-related and conservation programs,
  2. Outreach Materials - provide bilingual lesson plans, posters, kits and other educational materials for in-class, after-school, and community-based programs,
  3. Professional Development - provide science enrichment opportunities to pre-service and in-service Hispanic teachers (and those teaching Hispanic students), as well as supplemental lesson plans, teacher kits, and other materials for more effective classroom lessons and field activities,
  4. Field Trip Instruction - provide bilingual education staff to lead field activities,
  5. Field Trip Transportation - provide vehicles or funding for vehicles to transport groups to field trip site,
  6. Student Internships - provide paid-internship opportunities for Hispanic students,
  7. Community Event Support - provide hands-on activities and other resources (food, music) to support various Hispanic community events,
  8. Conference Support - attend career fairs, coordinate and host field trip enrichment activities,
  9. Job Shadowing & Mentorship - provide opportunities for Hispanic high school and undergraduate students to follow marine professionals for a day, and
  10. In-kind Support - provide science lab equipment, supplies, computers, etc. to support school and college programs.
  11. It is the intent of the plan that existing efforts will be enhanced and new programs initiated in the context of the areas of need.

Program Recommendations

  1. Professional Development Program - Regional colleges and universities provide teacher credential programs for new teachers, and graduate level programs for in-service teachers. Working with colleges and universities, the MERITO Plan will provide avenues for professional development that will not only take Hispanic-serving teachers into the marine environment to acquire hands-on experience, but also bring researchers out of the laboratory and into dialogue for a direct transfer of knowledge to teachers. The intended outcome is that teachers will multiply these experiences through their students over many years. Updating and training new and veteran teachers is a long-term process requiring a sustained effort and repetitive programs to assure impact on the greatest number of teachers and students.

    In addition, through the MERITO Plan's Professional Development Program, scholarships will provide job experience and internship opportunities for Hispanic undergraduate and graduate level students. Interns will work with water quality specialists, educators, and GIS technicians at the Sanctuary office to enhance their own science and technology skills while producing valuable resources and products for the MBNMS and the MERITO Plan.

    The goal of producing a set of universal, Spanish-language bilingual curricula and materials, to be utilized by other National Marine Sanctuaries and beyond, is included as an overarching goal. All deliverables will be crafted in cooperation with MERITO partnership organizations and will fulfill the needs expressed in Appendix 1.

    Of the thirty groups surveyed, seventeen requested bilingual curricula and resource materials. When asked for more specific information, groups expressed the need for marine and coastal information and curricula that reflect a multidisciplinary knowledge base as well as a focus on issues important to local communities and ecosystems. In addition, other communication technologies will be explored such as CD ROM and interactive video, which will enable the MERITO Plan programs to produce materials of greater depth to the active learner.
  2. Site-Based Bilingual Ocean Outreach Program—Effective on-site (outdoor) education is fundamental to resource protection and conservation. Gaining an understanding of how the local Hispanic communities interact with and utilize the Sanctuary is the first step to effective resource protection and integral to the success of the Multicultural Education Plan. For example, we know from observation that pier and onshore fishing and family visits to the beach are some ways that Hispanic residents enjoy the rich diversity of the Sanctuary. Many of these coastal visitation sites fall under the jurisdiction of other governmental agencies, such as California State Parks. By collaborating with these agencies, we will both increase our understanding of how Hispanic audiences utilize coastal areas and more effectively reach the Hispanic public. Thus, the first goal of the MERITO Plan's Site-Based Bilingual Ocean Outreach Program will be to work closely with two of our closest regional partners, the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve and California State Parks, Monterey County District, to provide bilingual staff and programs dedicated to Hispanic visitors.
  3. Community-Based Bilingual Ocean Outreach Program—The most successful and long-term approach to expanding marine outreach to Hispanic youth and their families is to partner with already existing Hispanic-serving organizations. Many successful and sustainable "community-based" programs exist in this region, including after-school programs, in-school Head Start and Migrant Education programs, and ethnically diverse youth groups, to name a few. MERITO details a variety of educational partnerships with the above groups. MERITO also describes the need for partnerships with the agricultural industry, which employs predominantly Hispanic migrant workers. This program component explores ways that the Sanctuary can work with community groups and industry to provide marine conservation education and outreach opportunities.


The MBNMS Multicultural Education Plan will be a multi-agency, long-term collaborative program that utilizes a multi-level approach to expand and improve outreach and education to local Hispanic communities. It will build upon and provide support for existing education efforts and also initiate new programs that will enhance understanding of our complex and important relationship with the marine environment. The MERITO Plan will provide a set of tangible Spanish-language education products and tools that can be utilized by other National Marine Sanctuaries and beyond. This plan will also facilitate critical communication between managers, educators and the general public, mainly focusing on the Hispanic community. Finally, NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary System is interested in using the MBNMS Multicultural Education Plan as a model marine conservation outreach and education program for other marine sanctuaries nationwide.