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Place-Based Environmental Education and Environmental Justice in Imperial Beach, California

Authors: Empress Holiday*,
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Qualitative Research, Applied Geography
Keywords: Imperial Beach, Tijuana River, young people, sewage pollution, environmental justice, water quality, public health
Session Type: Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In March 2017, over 143 million gallons of transboundary flow containing treated and raw sewage entered the Pacific Ocean from the Tijuana River in Imperial Beach over the course of seventeen days. Residents in Imperial Beach, California, a small beach town situated on the edge of the U.S./Mexico border, endure disproportionately high levels of water contamination, especially as compared to other coastal communities in Southern California. At Mar Vista High School in Imperial Beach, California, place-based environmental education is used to help educate and empower students about environmental justice issues in their community via The Poseidon Academy. This study seeks to evaluate young people’s access to clean environments, environmental attitudes, and youth empowerment by employing themes of environmental justice and qualitative methodologies found within children’s geographies. I conducted paper surveys and group interviews with students and teachers of the Academy, in addition to informal interviews with key informants. These primarily asked how the beach, sewage pollution, and the Poseidon Academy play a role in their life and community. The study’s results demonstrate an overwhelming sense of powerlessness and frustration among young people in addition to a desire for a platform in local politics.

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