Empowering Ocean Stewards Through the Ocean Guardian Schools Program

Students handing out reusable water bottles and bags at an outdoor campus event.

Students and teachers at Simon A. Sanchez High School and John F. Kennedy High School in Guam are implementing Ocean Guardian School projects that prevent marine debris and encourage students to lead environmental stewardship in their communities.

Type of Project: Prevention

Region: Pacific Islands

Project Dates: August 2021 - May 2023

Who is involved?
The NOAA Marine Debris Program is supporting the expansion of the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries’ Ocean Guardian School Program to the community of Guam. This pilot project is also supported by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and the NOAA Office for Coastal Management.

What is the project and why is it important?
Ocean Guardian School makes a commitment to the protection and conservation of its local watersheds, the world's ocean, and special ocean areas, such as national marine sanctuaries. The school makes this commitment by proposing and then implementing a school- or community-based conservation project. Two of the five project pathways available to schools include marine debris and the 6Rs (Refuse, Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Rot, Recycle). The program is coordinated through the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and engages schools over the course of several years to support and truly integrate these projects within their communities. The NOAA Marine Debris Program is supporting the expansion and continued growth of the Ocean Guardian School Program’s reach in the Pacific with a Guam pilot project. During the 2021-2022 school year, students and teachers at Simon A. Sanchez High School and John F. Kennedy High School participated in the program as Guam’s first Ocean Guardian Schools. 

Simon A. Sanchez High School built their project around the protection of the Northern Guam Lens Aquifer through working with students to promote and practice the 6Rs in an effort to prevent potential marine debris. Student and teacher project members came together to carry out three cleanups and install 60 recycling bins, four compost bins, and seven compost collection bins. This project worked across five schools on the island, with participation from four teachers, 53 official student members who directly carried out the project, and an estimated 300 unofficial student members who provided feedback and assistance. 

John F. Kennedy High School students and teachers worked towards the goal of protecting the Tumon Bay Watershed and Tumon Bay Marine Preserve from marine debris. They implemented three main activities to achieve their goal: conducting cleanups in the watershed around their campus, reducing plastic waste by providing reusable alternatives on campus, and advocating for the use of environmentally friendly products through posters, videos, and presentations. This project directly engaged 200 students and 10 teachers. Students focused on reducing waste within their school community by providing reusable items and completing seven community and campus cleanups, including at an illegal dumpsite across from their school.

These schools will expand and grow their projects in the year ahead as partners have committed to the continued support of the Ocean Guardian School Program Guam pilot project during the 2022 - 2023 school year.