‘Kelp The Otters’ is more than a clever play on words…it a plea that Mount Madonna School’s 5th grade students have taken to heart – and are encouraging the public to join in. Their goal is to educate people about the plight of the California Sea Otter, which is identified by scientists as a keystone species. Keystone species play a critical role in maintaining the healthy structure of their environment, in this case, the ocean habitat. As a way to share what they’ve learned – with adults and other kids – the students have created an educational and humorous DVD to gain attention and build people’s interest.
“Our DVD is about six average kids who don’t care about the environment,” explains 10-year-old Keith Jaffe. “They get stuck in a video game where they experience what sea otters in the real world are experiencing, and then realize what they have been doing wrong, and how they can help protect this important animal.”
While the students’ humorous approach may bring a smile to your face, the subject is no laughing matter, something the kids are each keenly aware of.
“The world can’t change itself, so we have to do it,” says 5th grader Sydney Ota. Classmate Indigo Kelly agrees:
“Otters are like the dominos in the path of the sea,” she says. “If they fall, other species will collapse behind them.”
“We want to educate people on how THEY can make a difference,” adds Gracie Howley. “This is important because if the die, everything in the kelp forest will become off-balance and then a dead zone.”
The students are working with several respected local and national organizations, including: Save Our Shores, Dr. Terrie Williams, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Science at UC Santa Cruz, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Otter Rescue and Conservation (SORAC) program, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Nestled among the redwoods on 355 mountaintop acres, Mount Madonna is a safe and nurturing college-preparatory school that supports students in becoming caring, self-aware and articulate critical thinkers, who are prepared to meet challenges with perseverance, creativity and integrity. The CAIS and WASC accredited program emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville.