Port of Oakland asks middle school’s help with messy problem

Oakland, Calif. – March 7, 2017: A dozen of this city’s female middle schoolers visit the Port of Oakland tomorrow to learn.  A month later, they’ll be back – this time, to teach.  Their subject: protecting San Francisco Bay’s delicate ecosystem.

The 11-to-14-year-old youngsters are from West Oakland Middle School’s Techbridge Girls after-school program. Techbridge Girls inspires girls of color from underserved communities to see themselves as technology, science and engineer professionals. The students are coming to learn first-hand how trash threatens wetlands adjoining Port waterways.  When they return, they’ll be asked for advice on cutting down the litter that pollutes the Bay.

“This is a real-life challenge we face every day,” said Luana España of the Port’s Social Responsibility Division.  “The students will visit impacted areas, gather information and propose solutions to the trash problem.”

The students’ field trip is hardly an academic exercise.  Regional Water Quality Control Board regulations require that the Port implement programs to protect SF Bay.  What’s more, cities surrounding the Bay are on notice that they must step up pollution control.  According to studies, hundreds of thousands of gallons of trash enter the Bay every year.

The Port is rolling out a comprehensive anti-pollution education program. The effort includes beach clean-ups, advertising and monthly trash-walks to collect garbage at the Port’s Oakland International Airport.  Neighborhood kids are being asked to help.

“What should the Port do to change behaviors?  What would you say to the Port users to encourage the proper disposal of their trash?  These are the questions we’d like them to help us answer,” said Port Associate Environmental Scientist Derek Lee.”

The Port received its waterfront property from a 1937 State Tidelands Trust grant.  In exchange, it’s required to protect the land for public benefit.  Keeping trash out of the Bay is part of the deal.

The problem is that litter’s origins are widespread.  Thousands of harbor truckers drive through the Port of Oakland daily.  Millions of visitors come to nearby Jack London Square annually.

The Port has responded with everything from anti-litter messages on social media to receptacles for spent fishing tackle.  It’s hoping that students can provide a fresh take on the problem.

The girls will inspect the Port’s Middle Harbor Shoreline Park wetlands.  They’ll also tour areas of heavy Port traffic.  Next month they’ll present their anti-litter campaign suggestions to Port employees.

About the Port of Oakland: The Port of Oakland oversees the Oakland seaport, Oakland International Airport, and 20 miles of waterfront. Together with its business partners, the Port supports more than 73,000 jobs in the region and nearly 827,000 jobs across the United States. Connect with the Port of Oakland and Oakland International Airport through Facebook, or with the Port on Twitter, YouTube, and at www.portofoakland.com.

About Techbridge Girls: Techbridge Girls is an award-winning national nonprofit organization that inspires girls of color from low-income families to discover their passion for STEM.  Through our gender and culture responsive after-school and professional development programs, we empower the next generation of girl innovators and leaders to change the world.   Since the launch of our programs in 2000, Techbridge has directly served over 6,000 girls in grades 4-12 through after-school and summer programs in the San Francisco Bay Area, Greater Seattle, and Washington, DC.   Through our Professional Development work, we train out of school time educators and served over 20,000 girls through our national partnerships with Society of Women Engineers, Girl Scouts USA and the YMCA USA.

Media Contacts:
Mike Zampa,
Communications Director
Port of Oakland
(510) 627-1565
[email protected]

Marilyn Sandifur,
Port Spokesperson
Port of Oakland
(510) 627-1193
Click here to contact Marilyn Sandifur


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