LA Teens Face Off at Streets to Sea

LA’s water pollution doesn’t stand a chance against our youth.

This spring, our Generation Earth program hosted the yearly Streets to the Sea Challenge. The projects presented inspired and taught us all so much.

What is Streets to the Sea, you ask?

Each year, Generation Earth asks middle and high school students from all over Los Angeles County to create campaigns to educate their peers about water pollution and how to take actions to protect local water supplies on their campuses and in surrounding communities.

Student presenting at the 2016 Streets to Sea Challenge.

The whole challenge culminated on April 27th at the Streets to the Sea Challenge Awards and Recognition Ceremony at Disney Synergy Lab, a highlight each year of our Generation Earth program. We’ve been lucky to have Disney as our gracious host for several years now, where the students get to enjoy a tour of their facility complete with life-sized Disney characters and other memorabilia!

Out of the many applicants, five high schools and five middle schools were selected to attend the final round and showcase their passionate presentations and innovative projects to an amazing group of judges. This year we were lucky to have Joshua Svenson, a civil engineer from the Watershed Management Division at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, Marialyce Pedersen from Disney’s Sustainability Division, and Rupam Soni from the Education Unit at the Metropolitan Water District join the students.

Student presenting to judges at the 2017 Streets to Sea Challenge.

Celebrating Innovation

Judges award a middle school and a high school first prize each year based on creativity and the sophistication of their projects.

This year, New Roads Middle School’s innovative rain barrel project and complementary education campaign wowed the judges. Their project entailed installing three rain barrels on campus and making a short video about the process. They rounded out their project by presenting to their student body about the importance of rain barrels as a water-wise solution for preventing water pollution at their school and in the community.

Bassett High School’s next-level project identified a lack of education as being the greatest hindrance toward making their community more conscious about their relationship to water. The students’ project involved training and mentoring local elementary and middle school students on water issues in the community and concluded with a restoration event at Bolsa Chica Wetlands, using it as a living laboratory for the topics explored during the mentorship!

Streets to the Sea is always a powerful showcase of LA’s future young environmentalists. We can’t wait to meet next year’s cohort of educators and innovators!


Want to learn more about Generation Earth programs? Sign up for the two-day Summer Institute and learn how to create on-campus environmental service learning projects with your students!

By Amanda Begley

Amanda is TreePeople’s Watershed Education Specialist. She attended her first TreePeople event when she was 12 years old and has been a “tree person” ever since. When Amanda is not educating on local water issues, she is exploring the many amazing hiking areas around Los Angeles County.