Second Quarter 2020 (Apr- Jun)


Quarterly News

Featured Partners

OC Habitats has forged relationships with other like-minded organizations since its inception in 2017.  This section is dedicated to highlighting these organizations, the work they do, and the devoted people that work for them.

  • Documentary Challenge: There are tons of great and informative documentaries on Netflix, iTunes, and YouTube and our organization and habitats can use this knowledge to further advocate for a healthy planet.  Let’s do a challenge to watch two (2) documentaries per week and then have a virtual meeting (casual) to discuss!  I recommend the following to start:

Ocean Quest by Sheen Sidhu

OCH’s Featured Partner is Discovery Cube’s Ocean Quest (Ocean Quest/OQ) Citizen Science Program. Ocean Quest’s Citizen Science Coordinator,Devon Ohlwiler, has been our main point of contact during our partnership and allowed us to interview her about their program. 

Since 2017, OCH has partnered with Discovery Cubes's Ocean Quest nonprofit. Ocean Quest's Citizen Science program gives students form local schools a chance to explore the coastal habitats, the species that live within, and the issues the habitat currently faces. During the field trips, students are able to get a hands-on learning experience and gain insight into the possible career options they can persre such as: water quality testing, monitoring endangered and threatened species, and collecting data on microplastics in the environment.

What is Ocean Quest's mission?


OQ is a campus location that is part of the Discovery Cube Science Center and the Discover Science Foundation. The Discovery Science Foundation as a whole has four core initiatives that are used to prepare the generation of teachers, students and life-long learners. These four initiatives are: Early Childhood Education, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Proficiency, Healthy Living and Environmental Stewardship. Discovery Cube has three campus locations; Santa Ana, Los Angeles and Newport Beach. OQ’'s mission is to teach children about STEM and Environmental Stewardship through exhibits and hands-on learning experiences with our various field trip programs. 


What is your role within the organization and what are some significant contributions you have made?


My title at OQ is Citizen Science Coordinator. OQ hosts Citizen Science Field trips. These are special trips for 6-12th graders in which they participate in actual scientific research and collect data for various partner organizations. I work behind the scenes to create curriculum for this program, as well as teach the content to students both in the classroom and here at OQ. I make sure the process from start to finish runs smoothly, from booking with the teachers, to waving goodbye as the students leave OQ. Since this is a grant funded program, I also help write evaluation reports to send to donors. In addition to the Citizen Science program, I also manage the Marine Mammal Education Programming we do on site during the summer and on weekends. We partner with Davy's Locker Whale Watching and offer educational presentations about local marine mammals to their patrons as well as the public. I also do staff training for any new education staff here at OQ.


What are the different stations that OQ offers during field trips? Are these offered  during every field trip or do they vary based on weather and group size? 


OQ offers two main types of field trips. The first program is our Citizen Science Program, which is a special grant-funded program for 6th-12th grade. On this trip there are three to four learning stations depending on the size of the group.  For 15-90 students we do a 90 minute boat ride through the harbor and out to see the sea lions at the buoy. We also conduct an MPA (Marine Protected Area) Watch and learn about the White Sea Bass Grow-Out pen in the harbor. The students also collect a water sample in the harbor. Once off the boat, they come into the lab to test the water they collected for bacteria, enterococcus, which is a bacteria found in fecal matter. This data gets sent to the Surfrider Foundation. Students then go to the beach to look for microplastics in the sand. We send that data in to Algalita. If the group has 90-130 students, we add a 4th rotation on the beach with OCH, in which they learn about the dune habitat and the animals there, and then do some bird monitoring. We do these activities rain or shine. However if there is a torrential downpour, we may have the students come into the exhibit area instead of going to the beach. 

Our second program offers a general field trip for kinder-12th grades. This is a three hour trip where they tour the harbor on our boat for one hour, spend time in the exhibit for an hour, and then go to the pier to go crab fishing. The content only changes based on age


How does OQ's location enhance the learning experience? 


OQ is located in Newport Beach, California on the Balboa Peninsula. This puts us within walking distance of both the harbor and the beach, and we utilize both on each field trip. Some of the students we work with have never been on a boat before. This location is perfect because it allows students to experience the natural environment, and they are able to see first hand the different habitats where animals live. This not only makes for a fun and unique experience, but by seeing animals in their natural habitat, it is our hope that students will gain greater love and respect for the animals and the environment, and will then strive to protect them both by becoming environmental stewards. 


What groups/schools does OQ serve? (ex: Title I schools, public, private, or charter schools)


For the grant funded Citizen Science program, we sponsor Title 1 schools to participate. Both of our programs are available to public, private and charter schools as a paid program. In the summer, we also offer the K-12 field trips to summer camps, church groups, and other community groups such as the YMCA and The Boys and Girls Club. 


By the end of an OQ  field trip, what do you expect students to have learned? 


At the end of the Citizen Science field trip, our goal is to have students walk away knowing that they can be scientists, and can make a difference. Whether it is by collecting and submitting data on their smartphone, simply picking up trash on the beach, or recycling cans and bottles, we want them to understand that small everyday choices can make a big impact on the environment. 


How does OC Habitats contribute to OQ? 


OC Habitats (OCH) has been a partner of Ocean Quest's Citizen Science program since it began 2 years ago. For each field trip that is larger than 90 students, OCH sends educators to teach students about the local dune habitat and conservation efforts. OCH Educators walk the students through the habitat and help them identify various species of plants and animals. 



How does OC Habitats contribute to OQ? 


OC Habitats (OCH) has been a partner of Ocean Quest's Citizen Science program since it began 2 years ago. For each field trip that is larger than 90 students, OCH sends educators to teach students about the local dune habitat and conservation efforts. OCH Educators walk the students through the habitat and help them identify various species of plants and animals. 


OC Habitats wants to give thanks to Wendy Marshall and Jill Lemon for their efforts in facilitating OC Habitat’s partnership with Ocean Quest at the beginning of this partnership. A special thank you to Devon Ohlwiler for her efforts and collaboration with OCH over the last two years and agreeing to do this interview. 

Environmental News

Migratory Bird Act in 2020


The Migratory Bird Treaty Act was first passed by United States congress in 1918, making it illegal to “pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, attempt to take, possess, offer for sale, sell, offer to purchase, purchase, deliver for shipment, ship, cause to be shipped, deliver for transportation, transport, cause to be transported, carry, or cause to be carried by any means whatever, receive for shipment, transportation or carriage, or export, at any time, or in any manner, any migratory bird, included in the terms of this Convention . . . for the protection of migratory birds . . . or any part, nest, or egg of any such bird." (16 U.S.C. 703) according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services. Over the years, the act has compiled a list of over 1,000 species of migratory birds that are to be protected from these threats. This act has brought great success in the recovery of many different migratory bird populations including our beloved Snowy Egret who was hunted for their feathers to near extinction until their protection was enforced. It has held several individuals and large corporations accountable for practices that cause harm to wildlife and has incentivised companies to invest in technology that prevents harm to migratory birds. From the 1970s- 2017 this law included penalties to companies responsible for incidental deaths of migratory birds through disasters such as oil spills, oil pits, unsafe power lines, destruction of habitat, etc. However, our current administration has introduced a new interpretation of the law which lets companies responsible for these incidental deaths off the hook. They will now only be fined if the deaths caused were direct and intentional and will no longer face repercussions for accidental deaths. This removes incentive for companies to invest in safe and preventative practices like covering oil pits etc. and it allows them to destroy habitats, so long as the purpose of the project was not to intentionally destroy the habitat. Companies are no longer required to report fatalities, and even the event of a large oil spill that could kill millions of birds would result in no fines on those responsible. When the administration first announced this change, the Audubon Society analyzed that oil companies “were responsible for 90 percent of incidental takes prosecuted under the act, resulting in fines of $6,500 per violation” and the US Fish and Wildlife Services stated that “Each year, 500,000 to 1 million birds [were]  lost to pits that oil companies leave uncovered.” When these numbers were produced these events were being monitored, however these incidents are no longer of legal concern. Many have reported incidents to US Fish and Wildlife Services but have been informed that there is no longer a legal penalty for any of these actions

Volunteers of the Month

April 2020

Matt Franklin has been an intern with OCH since last summer (2019).  He came to us as a student of one of our partners, Matt Yurko at Project Grow and Saddleback College, during a coastal dune habitat lesson in Fall of 2018.  Matt has always been an adventurer, getting his Eagle Scout recognition in his teen years and now pursuing degrees (AA and BS) in Environmental/Ecological Restoration as well as specific certifications in this field.  Matt is enthusiastic about restoration but also many other environmental issues and jumped right into OCH’s many programs of education, restoration, monitoring and more in his time with us.  Early on and especially since January 2020, Matt has taken a leadership role with OCH and our intern team by helping to lead, coordinate, organize and plan for OCH events.  Matt also has a restoration internship through Saddleback College, helping to restore some of the campus back to its native origins. Not only is he working with OCH and Saddleback, but also is working on a native garden in his own backyard and is already seeing success and native species returning to his backyard where they had not been before. Matt’s enthusiasm and verve for the environment is contagious and has provided a great example for our intern team.  Matt has taken on so many tasks with our organization but he has especially thrived in working with technology, creating a series of maps for our Coastal Dune Habitat surveys; public speaking, doing excellent research, adding a pinch of humor, and using his smooth baritone voice to reach his audiences; and writing, producing excellent current environmental event articles to share in our quarterly newsletters.  Matt hopes to finish his bachelor’s at Humboldt State University and enter the environmental field in something related to ecological restoration or native landscaping.  Matt will finish his internship with us this summer, but we hope to hold on to him as a volunteer as long as we can as he has been such an asset to our crew and there is much to do!

May 2020

Abby Foster

June 2020

Phong Tran

What's New

2019 Annual Report

Check out our 2019 Annual Report to see what OCH has been up to the past year.

Volunteers of the Year


bianca borja


crystal ryan & trevor stocking
OCH Habitat Video Launch

OCH launched our first video of our Habitat Video Series! Check out The Native Habitats of Orange County. Stay tuned for the next video!

Upcoming Events & Opportunities

July 2020 

  • Restoration  

August 2020

  • Restoration Program  - Date TBD 

  • Tern Preserve Monitoring Ends with State Parks

September 2020

  • Restoration

October 2020

  • Restoration - TBD

OCH is continually updating it's events and opportunities .  For a  current and more detailed list visit our website, WWW.OCHABITATS.ORG and check our OCH Events Page.

Join the OCH Crew!










OCH is looking for people who want to share their talents and time to improve their local environment and habitats.  We have many opportunities to get involved, check them out below.  


  • Volunteer:

    • Become a Habitat Monitor

    • Join our Habitat Education Team

    • Help with Administrative Tasks

    • Help with Outreach and Marketing

    • Become a Tide Pool Docent

    • Work on OCH's Social Media Outreach

    • Help with ongoing Restoration Projects

    • Work with our Grant Writing Team to secure funding for our organization, programs, and projects.

    • Click Volunteer above for application.

  • Internships​:

    • College Level Students earn credit through CSUF and UCI ​

    • Gain experience in the conservation field, a grassroots nonprofit, business administration, public speaking, education, and more.

    • Become a film or art intern for OCH.

    • Click Internships above for application.

  • Join our Board:

    • We will soon have two board positions available and are looking for people who are passionate about the environment, specifically local habitats.  ​

    • Submit your resume, references and cover letter to och@ochabitats.org

We look forward to hearing from you!

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All Rights Reserved.

EIN # 82-2478090

15333 Culver Drive, Suite 340-763, Irvine, CA 92604

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 OC Habitats does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations.  OC Habitats has no religious or political affiliations.  All photos provided with permission of photographers: ©RossGriswold.2018, ©S. Chartier-Grable.2018, @BillHalladay.2018, and @DannyRivas.2018. All Rights Reserved.