FiiN: “Fostering Interest in Nature,” an Exciting New Program at NBC

By Sherry Marger, NBC Board Member


A new program providing outdoor nature experiences for youth in Orange County kicked off on February 19 and will run for two months. This unique program for 5th grade students is designed to enhance their understanding of our coast and the role we all play in protecting it.


While camping in tents for 4 days and 3 nights at Newport Dunes, Camp James, each group of students explores the coastal areas of Newport Beach and develops an appreciation of ecology and nature-based recreation. Camp activities are designed to promote an understanding of ecological principles, conservation, marine science, biology, and water safety appropriate for 5th grade students, based on Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). This nature program is a collaboration between the City of Newport Beach, the Coastal Commission, NBC, Newport Dunes and the school districts of Santa Ana and Newport Mesa, and was inspired by the California Coastal Act which requires that lower-cost visitor and recreational facilities be encouraged and provided.


In a truly collaborative effort, students are taught by Newport Beach Life Guards about water safety and by Back Bay Science Center (BBSC) staff about marine life. They are taken on a tour by the Fun Zone Boat Company, go on a kayak trip on the water and on a hike to study land plants. In addition, they get their hands dirty at the BBSC nursery propagating native plants to be used for restoration activities, practice knot tying, map sea level rise, spot marine mammals, build sand castles, discuss nocturnal animals and astronomical constellations at night and perform skits and songs around the campfire. In the process they have exciting new experiences, journal their observations, all while learning, having fun, and interacting meaningfully with leaders, teachers and classmates.


FiiN is an innovative way to provide opportunities for children to learn about the environment, camp out in nature, hike, kayak and enjoy the state's largest natural estuary in Southern California. If it sounds comprehensive and exciting, it is. The week culminates with Conservation Poster projects and a closing awards ceremony.