Have you ever noticed the bold t-shirts and bags that read “CLEAN THE BEACH?” If so, you’re looking at the work of the Coastal Fund, an organization on campus that allows students to enjoy UC Santa Barbara and its beautiful, surrounding beaches. And while keeping the beach clean is an important part of their goals, the Coastal Fund strives to make them better and more accessible year-round.
Since 1999, the Coastal Fund has organized numerous environmental projects of their own and funded many more projects put together by local organizations and clubs as well.
“Everyone likes to go to the beach, so we might as well preserve it,” said Outreach Education Coordinator and second-year environmental studies major Erica Aguilera.
The Coastal Fund, an environmental club on campus, consists of a board of committed students that collaborate with various groups on campus and co-sponsor events that involve students in the protection of the coastal environment.
Surfers may have noticed that the West Campus Bluffs have been transformed from a muddy dirt path to a beautiful, safe walkway with cool plants. You can thank Coastal Fund for that. Other points of pride include the restoration of the Lagoon, which one can find educational signs surrounding the area to learn more about it. Some “mutt mitts” and cigarette trays are scattered throughout Isla Vista to help dog lovers and smokers enjoy the scenic route and keep it clean. The Coastal Fund has also helped bring film screenings and guest speakers to campus, like animal rights and environmental activist Paul Watson and naturalist Andy Keller to promote awareness of ecological issues that affect the coastal area.
And while your weekends may not be spent cleaning the beach or restoring natural plants to the area, every quarter our tuition includes a contribution to the beautification and sustainability of our coast. Five dollars and fifty cents of undergraduate fees and $3 of graduate fees per student is allocated towards the Coastal Fund budget and their efforts to protect and enhance our coastline. Over $320,000 is distributed annually in grants for projects that educate and engage students.
“Students give us money and we give it right back,” said Aguilera. “Students have the power to enact change; the Coastal Fund is the vehicle to do that.”
And with various ways to get involved, the organization welcomes all majors and interests, not just die-hard environmentalists.
“Our decisions are not just based on the environmental community. For example, we’ve heard great things from a philosophy major and all of these perspectives add to the work we do,” said Coastal Fund Chair and fourth-year biology major Tanya Jones.
There are currently two open positions as undergraduate representatives for those interested in dedicating their time and efforts to the cause.
The Coastal Service Program is another great aspect of the Coastal Fund, which can open doors to outside internship opportunities. For example, campus organizations looking to raise money can earn up to $250 by participating in local restoration work or helping fellow group members clean up Del Playa Drive.
“We are grateful that other groups come to us because these are projects we can’t do alone,” said Jones. “Everyone can do something to help, even if you’re just one person. There are only seven of us, and we fund many projects each year to help the UCSB community. Even if you pick up one piece of trash on the beach, it helps and you’re doing your part.”
For further community service opportunities, join the Coastal Fund on Saturday, Oct. 15 from 11a.m. to 1 p.m. at Campus Point for the community beach clean up. The first 20 people will get a free shirt, as well as free food provided to all volunteers by the IV Co-op. Be sure to check their website for frequent updates on Coastal Fund events throughout the quarter for more information.
“Essentially the ocean is our life support system. We get over 70 percent of our oxygen from it and the majority of the people on this planet get their food from the ocean. It connects everything that we do,” said Aguilera. “We need to protect the ocean because it is absolutely critical to the continuation of life on this planet.”
It’s your money and your beach – help the Coastal Fund help you make the best of it.