News Release| Public Safety; Cal State L.A.

Cal State L.A. Adopts-A-Beach to do its part to Heal the Bay

If “life’s a beach,” then why not do all you can to protect both?

Cal State L.A. (CSULA) is doing its part. Last fall, the University adopted Dockweiler Beach in Playa Del Rey as its own as part of the California Coastal Commission’s Adopt-A-Beach Program, which is facilitated by Heal the Bay.

Recently, on an unseasonably-sunny Saturday morning, a large group of conscientious CSULA students, professors and friends, sifted through the sand and shore looking for trash, no matter how tiny, left behind by beach goers.

“We have found that when learning in the classroom is added to actual experience, students learn much more. My students have improved their writing so much because they really care about what they’re writing about,” said Lollie Ragana, a lecturer who teaches composition in CSULA’s Department of English, and who leads the cleanup efforts at Dockweiler Beach.

Ragana continued, “Since we started the Adopt-A-Beach Program, I have found that a lot of students want to get involved in stuff like this, but they never really get the opportunity. It turns out they really care about the environment. They are very interested.”

The Adopt-A-Beach Program is an educational project that gives people of all ages the opportunity to learn about and participate in the conservation of our coastal resources. Heal the Bay facilitates the program in Los Angeles County by providing all the cleanup supplies (trash bags, data cards, pencils and gloves) for volunteers to carry out the work.

Ragana chose Dockweiler Beach due to the ample parking and as an easy-to-find location, since many of the students would be traveling from, and around, the east side of Los Angeles County. CSULA will clean Dockweiler at least three times a year.

Jennifer Herrera, a business major at CSULA, traveled to the beach with her English class to pitch in during the cleanup.

“There are a lot of people who throw trash on the ground, which ends up in the ocean. Sea life mistakes the trash for food—often the smaller pieces and particles—then we eat the fish which affects our health. It’s a never-ending negative cycle,” said Herrera.

The students worked in small teams of two to four. One student took charge of the “Cleanup Data Card,” checking off pieces of trash listed on the card as they retrieved them from the sand, such as plastic beverage bottles, aluminum cans, and cigarette butts. They also kept an eye out for even more unsightly items, such as used syringes, diapers and condoms. 

Angelica Sagum, a CSULA President’s Scholar, trekked to the beach at 9 a.m. with other scholars and Honors College students to help clean up the University’s beach.  

“We accumulate so much trash in our consumer-centric society, which is very easily overlooked. Today’s younger generation just buys whatever is out there without thinking about what is the effect on the environment,” said Sagum. “The reason it is important to do beach cleanups is that not only is all this trash bad for wildlife, but to also learn how it’s harming our environment. It’s not about only ‘reduce, reuse, and recycle,’ but actually going out there and helping in any way you can.”

Ragana agrees. Before the students grabbed their gloves and trash bags, she gathered them around for a quick tutorial regarding what they should and should not (anything organic from the land or ocean) be picking up. She also discussed the importance of finding the little items that can be consumed by wildlife, and the importance of remaining environmentally conscious.

“This gives them the ability to do something, and hopefully they’ll continue to do things that better the environment after today,” she said. “After a day of cleaning a beach, students really become aware of trash and not throwing it on the ground. You really don’t notice the trash too much until you start looking for it, then you start noticing it everywhere. Then you understand that even little items in the sand can become a big problem.”

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Working for California since 1947: The 175-acre hilltop campus of California State University, Los Angeles is at the heart of a major metropolitan city, just five miles from Los Angeles’ civic and cultural center. More than 20,000 students and 215,000 alumni—with a wide variety of interests, ages and backgrounds—reflect the city’s dynamic mix of populations. Six Colleges offer nationally recognized science, arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education and humanities programs, among others, led by an award-winning faculty. Cal State L.A. is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Jazz Orchestra and to a unique university center for gifted students as young as 12. Programs that provide exciting enrichment opportunities to students and community include an NEH- and Rockefeller-supported humanities center; a NASA-funded center for space research; and a growing forensic science program, housed in the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center. www.calstatela.edu