Explore Ecology: Environmental Learning For Santa Barbara

Explore Ecology Santa Barbara

Today, we introduce Explore Ecology, founded in 1990 in Santa Barbara, California. Explore Ecology (EE) promotes environmental education and artistic expression. Through their programs, Explore Ecology reaches over 40,000 community members. From teaching students how to garden to organizing beach cleanups and creative reuse art workshops, Explore Ecology educators provide hands-on learning experiences that empower the community to protect and preserve the environment.

Here’s a little more about these programs.

Explore Ecology School Gardens: Beautiful outdoor classrooms on school campuses where children can explore nature, learn to garden organically and see in real life what they read about in science class.

Art From Scrap: A creative reuse store that provides discarded and reusable materials from landfills at affordable prices. Through its school materials program, this program also offers low-cost arts and crafts supplies to teachers and schools.

Explore Ecology Makerspace: Located above Art From Scrap, the makerspace is filled with technology, sewing machines, and arts and crafts supplies for the community to use to invent, create, imagine and collaborate.

Watershed Resource Center: Located at Arroyo Burro Beach, students and visitors learn how to keep creeks and oceans clean and join monthly beach cleanups that remove thousands of pounds of litter annually.

Environmental Education: In-class lessons and field trips are available for public and private schools, community groups and camp programs and are accessible to most Santa Barbara County schools, depending on location.

Funding from Yardi helps bolster entry-level salaries for garden and environmental educators and reuse store staff. EE recently hired a new full-time development director, hoping to reach more funding support and foundation grant awards to serve environmental education to more individuals in 2024.

“As we all know, the cost of living in Santa Barbara is higher than the California minimum wage, and Explore Ecology is dedicated to bringing salary levels up to a higher standard within the nonprofit sector,” said Jill Cloutier, public relations director and developmental director for EE.

Funding will also help bring more depth to programming by increasing educational services.

“We are glad to know that Yardi employees are aligned with our mission of bringing environmental education to our community,” shared Cloutier.

Volunteer opportunities

Art From Scrap: The Art From Scrap Creative Reuse Store is looking for volunteers to work in its retail store by stocking, sorting materials and assisting staff. Email [email protected] for more information.

Beach Cleanups: EE Monthly Cleanups occur at Arroyo Burro Beach on the second Sunday of every month from 10 a.m. to noon. Meet at the Watershed Resource Center at 10 a.m. to sign in and pick up supplies. Registration is not required.

EE Committees: EE is looking for new members for their fundraising and event planning committee to help plan and coordinate events. Email [email protected] for more information.

Coastal Cleanup Day: Join EE for Coastal Cleanup Day on Saturday, September 21, 2024, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at over 30 beaches, creeks and parks throughout the county. An International Day of Volunteer Action, Coastal Cleanup Day offers community members, businesses and groups a chance to give back to the beautiful beaches that make Santa Barbara County a wonderful place to live. Email [email protected] for more information.

Photographers: EE seeks photographers who want to build portfolios, practice their skills and support environmental education and the arts. Email [email protected].

Nominations are now open for the 2024 Explore Ecology Environmental Stewardship Awards! If you know a dedicated environmental steward who speaks for plants and animals and has made a difference in a classroom, school or community, please nominate them. Nominations are accepted until April 1, 2024. Winners will be honored at the Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival in April 2024.

“Explore Ecology Awards recognize teachers, students and schools who promote environmental stewardship through education and action, initiate positive change and inspire their peers and colleagues in Santa Barbara County,” expressed Cloutier.