Program Ideas

Incredible programs have been created that can be adapted to your region for reaching audiences statewide. A compilation of many different programs can be accessed by using the tabs below.

Marine Protected Area Collaborative Network

There are 14 MPA collaboratives across California, working to engage experts in local MPA stewardship and management. Collaboratives provide a forum for nonprofits, fishermen, tribal representatives, government staff, municipalities, academic institutions, scientists, teachers, and aquaria to work together to enhance understanding and compliance of MPAs. The purpose of the Collaborative Network is to create a cooperative process that encourages participation in decision-making and communication, grounded in the values of respect for differences and the interconnection between humans and nature.

To learn more or find a collaborative near you, please visit the MPA Collaborative Network website.

Underwater Parks Ambassadors
This is a program of trained professionals, volunteers and recreational ocean users who assist in outreach efforts and serve as stewards for California’s MPAs. It has stimulated a cadre of enthusiastic, knowledgeable volunteers who have developed numerous creative outreach products. To learn how to organize a program in your area, contact

Mobile Cart
This traveling exhibit has brochures, maps and kids activities to educate the public is used by docents and volunteers at coastal parks, events and celebrations. For more information contact

Reef Check 
In California, Reef Check helps ensure the long-term sustainability and health of the nearshore rocky reefs and kelp forests by monitoring inside and outside of MPAs. Reef Check California volunteers are divers, fishermen, kayakers, surfers, boaters, and a wide range of Californians who take a proactive role in making sure that our nearshore ecosystems are healthy and well managed. They work with marine managers, researchers and the public to provide the scientific data needed to make informed, science-based decisions for the sustainable management and conservation of California’s ocean environment.

To find out more or become a volunteer, visit the Reef Check website.

The Monterey Bay Sanctuary’s Team OCEAN places trained naturalists on the water in kayaks to greet kayakers in Moss Landing and Monterey. They serve as docents promoting respectful wildlife viewing and ocean stewardship. To learn more, contact

Bay Net Program
At popular beaches in Monterey and Santa Cruz, Bay Net Volunteer Naturalists are stationed and equipped with spotting scopes and binoculars for the public to enjoy and learn more about marine wildlife living in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. This free service engages visitors in marine life activity from shore and helps foster ocean stewardship.

MPA Watch

A citizen science monitoring program that trains volunteers to observe and collect data on human uses of coastal and marine resources both inside and outside of MPAs. Data are meant to inform the management, enforcement, and science of MPAs and coastal regions, and allow us to see how human uses are changing as a result of MPA implementation.

General Information

MPA Watch California Manual

Get involved and learn more at

MPA Citizen Science Cruise
This on-the-water STEM education cruise allows allows organizations, local scientists, State Parks experts, and students and teachers work together to monitor Crystal Cove’s Marine Conservation Area. This unique partnership of Newport Landing Sportfishing and Crystal Cove Alliance engages students in scientific research and monitoring.

GFNMS Beach Watch Program
This long-term, volunteer beach monitoring program collects information on birds and mammals for every beach from Manchester Beach to Point Año Nuevo. A network local stewards document and exchange information on the biological and physical changes that the beaches undergo throughout the seasons.

Seafari Educational Tour
A citizen science monitoring program created by Santa Barbara Channel Keeper that trains volunteers to observe and collect data on human uses inside and outside MPAs. Volunteers use standardized protocols to collect data to inform management and track how the public uses coastal areas.

Learn more about the Seafari Educational Tour.

MPA Reusable Canvas Bag
A reusable canvas bag designed as a give-away. One side of the bag is left blank for children to design their own MPA. Contact Mike Schaadt at

Geocaching in MPAs
A statewide system of MPA geocaches has been hidden across the state. Each geocache has a container, official sticker, ocean themed treasures and some history on each location. Become a part of the worldwide, real-life treasure hunt and hide one at your local MPA! To learn more, contact

MPA Interpretive Walks
At Piedras Blancas, a scripted walking tour with portable presentation materials draws record visitors each time it is hosted. Guided by docents and volunteers, the tour template highlights historical aspects of the area, ecological benefits of MPAs, and ways people can engage with the local MPA. To learn how your organization can create interpretive walks for your local MPA, please contact

MPA Scuba Diving Portal: Naples SMCA
Santa Barbara Channelkeeper’s Naples Reef Dive Portal allows you to explore the reef using an interactive dive map, discover why Naples Reef is such an important place, and learn about upcoming opportunities to visit this unique coastal gem.

Visitor TV!– Marine Protected Areas of SLO County
To increase visitors’ understanding of MPAs, the Collaborative worked with Visitor TV and San Luis Obispo State Parks to produce two videos highlighting MPAs as beautiful places to explore while visiting San Luis Obispo county.

Orange County Education Programs
Orange County Marine Protected Area Council created various hands-on education programs focused on the county’s intertidal habitat. These tools are great for elementary school teachers, local residents or visitors interested in exploring their coastal surroundings.

Ocean Guardian Program- National Marine Sanctuaries
Ocean Guardian programs encourage children to explore their natural surroundings to form a sense of personal connection to the ocean and/or watersheds in which they live. The Kids Club offers children a stimulating opportunity to express their insights, observations and understanding of their natural environment through the creation of original stories, poetry and visual art. All K-8 students are eligible and encouraged to join! For educators, your entire classroom or school could become an Ocean Guardian team by making a commitment to environmental protection and conservation. If your school or class is up to the challenge, learn more here:

MPA Education Fishing Trips
Developed by the Santa Barbara MPA Collaborative, ecotourism and recreational fishing businesses lead MPA education fishing trips which offer a a unique opportunity for the public to explore MPAs while fishing along the beautiful coastline. For more information:

MPA Dive Maps
Developed by the Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, this dive map orients divers to Campus Point SMCA, a popular dive site near Coal Oil Point.

Underwater Parks Day
This annual event on the Saturday of Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend in January, has gained considerable following throughout California. Events include photography and video contests, arts and crafts for children, presentations, exhibit displays, interpretive walks, and even marine life touch tanks. To learn more, contact

World Oceans Day
A healthy world ocean is critical to our survival. Every year, World Oceans Day provides a unique opportunity to honor, help protect, and conserve the world’s oceans. World Oceans Day is June 8th, annually.

View the official website to find an event to join or to get ideas for creating one of your own.

The mission of the California’s Marine Protected Areas Education and Outreach Initiative is to enhance MPA education through enduring partnerships to empower Californians to protect what they know and love.