The Save the Whales program has become part of our Frank Ledesma Elementary School’s family. The in-class programs and outdoor field trips continue to lay a strong foundation for encouraging successful learning and building positive attitudes that can subsequently lead to improvements not only in environmental stewardship but in student academic achievement and motivation. While the geographic distance between Monterey Bay and Soledad is relatively short, the cultural distance is long; many of the children in our school have never been to the ocean, and have little to no understanding of their connection with the coast. Listen to the teachers:
“The students were engaged in climbing, touching, feeling the exterior and interior of a ‘real’ whale. It brought the concepts of recycling and pollution into reality with the use of Dee the whale that they could fully experience (both inside and outside). Students remembered the content presented in an earlier Save The Whales program and applied that knowledge when meeting Dee. “
Amy Bowen, 4th Grade Teacher, Frank Ledesma Elementary
“Every student was fully engaged and attentive. Every part of the presentation helped students learn about whales because of the hands-on and strong presentations with student participation components throughout the program. Unlike textbook-based learning, the hands-on experience help students retain and internalize learning. The most valuable aspect of this program is that students are beginning to take ownership of what they have learned. I believe that the students will become caretakers of the ocean.“
Sung Shin, 5th Grade Teacher, Frank Ledesma Elementary
Frank Ledesma Elementary School supports a diverse population of students both culturally and socio-economically. Our school is a Title l school, and a large percentage of our students come from low-income families. The opportunity for these children to get outside and interact with the natural environment will enhance their learning and broaden their horizons. We encourage any generous donors to continue the funding of Save The Whales’ program. This program touches lives beyond anything we had imagined. Thank you very much!
Richard Radtke, Principal, Frank Ledesma Elementary, Soledad Unified School District
We love Save The Whales! Tom Kieckhefer came to all of our 6th grade classrooms October 25th at Lincoln Elementary to do a presentation on Marine Mammals and Marine Debris. It was obvious to see how passionate and dedicated he was about the Save The Whale's mission to educate students about ocean animals, their habitats, and pollution. The presentation was very well-done from the details in the presentation to the items of mammals displayed on the table. Tom definitely invoked curiosity and awe in whales, dolphins, and other mammals in the ocean as they learned about them. It was nice that the kids were able to take a quiz to reinforce what they learned about from the presentation. We are so thankful that Tom was able to accommodate all of our classes in one day and also provide us with grant funding. Please continue to support this amazing organization as it speaks to shaping the value of protecting our ocean and earth through our future leaders!!
Save the Whales has been a wonderful organization to partner with over the last years. They have generously shared their expertise and knowledge with our students, including bringing Dee the inflatable whale, partnering with our school for Community Project and helping to organize a beach clean up. We love the partnership we have created with Save the Whales and look forward to continuing the relationship with them.
Save The Whales (STW) is like no other. Their impact is phenomenal, both locally and globally. Co-founders Maris Sidenstecker I & II have dedicated their lives for marine mammals and the oceans in general. They are inspirations on how each of us can make a positive impact. Whether stenciling stormdrains, litter assessments, Low Impact Development Workshops, Green Gardening outreach in stores, to community exhibits and surveys, school presentations, and radio, TV, print, and online ads, they do it all, and masterfully.
STW seamlessly collaborates with other like-minded entities and non-profits to magnify their messages and stretch funds. Their extensive connections are put to good use with local municipalities, politicians, media personalities, environmental superstars such as Jane Goodall. STW works with many municipalities in the Monterey Bay to conduct stormwater outreach and education. STW has been recognized for their many accomplishments by various cities, most recently, The City of Greenfield for helping to save the Vaquita porpoise from extinction.
STW was honored to receive $8,000 from an elementary school student in Texas who was bullied when she turned the focus from being a target of bullying into a fund-raiser for STW. Her inspiration allowed STW to purchase a full-size humpback whale inflatable replica. This whale named, "Dee", is 43' long - people can enter her to view her organs! This has been an amazing outreach tool to inspire personal responsibility to save whales and our oceans in general. Humpbacks are the anti-bullies of the seas by fending off orcas from other marine mammals and fish such as Mola molas.
Working side-by-side STW for over 10 years has been a privilege. I can't say enough in this format to substantiate this fact. Maris is the real deal. Her heart, soul and being are "all In" saving whales and our planet. I'm with her. Hope you are too.
Save The Whales provides so much for our Monterey Bay Region from quality environmental classroom education to hands-on community exhibits, storm drain stenciling, point of sale info brochures for sustainable gardening, and all while collaboring with the community. The organization effectively magnifies its outreach by partnering with many local schools, universities, other environmental non-profits, and government organizations. It's amazing the work Save The Whales does for whales globally, the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and community watersheds in the Monterey Bay region.
I have had a great experience working with Save The Whales. I'm passionate about the protecting the ocean and it has been a rewarding to work with individuals who feel the same. I believe the work they are doing for and with the community is amazing especially all the outreach they do involving local schools. Before working with Save The Whales, I wasn't comfortable working with kids. But I had the opportunity to work with kids teaching them about water sheds showing them how water flows from the mountain to the ocean, turbidity, and how a pH scale works. They responded well to the information they were given and excited to learn about how they can help the ocean. It was rewarding to see kids concerned about ocean and helped me grow confidence in myself with working with kids. It warms my heart to know that this organization does so many outreach programs to many different schools all over Monterey and surrounding counties. I have nothing but good things and experiences working with Save The Whales and I will continue to work with them.
MAOS (Monterey Academy of Oceanographic Science) staff, parents, and students have worked alongside Save the Whales during the annual Whalefest held on Fisherman‘s Wharf in Monterey for the past few years. As an Oceanographic Academy at Monterey High School, we have many students interested in marine life and ocean preservation.
We have greatly enjoyed working with Maris to help raise awareness of the importance of protecting the oceans. Maris is very passionate and dedicated to helping raise awareness about the endangerment of whales and other species.
We look forward to working with Maris and Save the Whales in the years to come!
MAOS Administrative Coordinator
I had the opportunity to work with Save the Whales and I can safely say that It was a truly enriching experience. I have always been passionate about protecting the ocean and all if its inhabitants, working with a likeminded organization was so refreshing. The excitement that Save the Whales brings to kids and communities in regards of conservation is incredible. They are serving communities across the Monterey County including those are farther inland. They are teaching kids about how regardless of where you are located, their actions still make an impact on the ocean. This opportunity not only made me realize how crucial community outreach is, but how much I enjoyed it.
I was given the opportunity to volunteer with all demographics of the community and it was incredible. Every person needs to have accesses to this vital information. Save the Whales truly serves the community and is passionate about what they do. This is evident in their tabling events, school events, and all other community events in which they participate.
Not only did I help the community, I gained a lot from everyone I was working with. All of the interactions I had with the community, especially with the elementary school kids will stay with me forever. Working with kids made me realize how important it is to keep them informed on what is going on in the world around them. They truly care and if we can make an impact on them when they are you, it will likely stick with them forever. Nurturing and keeping their passion alive for knowledge and conservation is truly important and Save the Whales is doing a great job at this.
Tom came to educate the kids in our school and did a great job of engaging them in the material. We are so grateful for his knowledge and enthusiasm. It's great to find environmental educators who are passionate and give great info without scaring the kids. Great job! Thanks so much.
Volunteering with Save The Whales has been nothing shy of amazing. In the beginning, Save the whales was the organization that I volunteered with for one of my projects at CSUMB and now (2 years after graduation) I continue to volunteer for this amazing nonprofit organization and will continue to do so for years to come. Nothing but great experiences and even better people.
Volunteering with Save The Whales was one of the highlights of my graduating semester at my university. They offer a variety of programs that you can choose to help with, from teaching kids about the Watershed to teaching kids about Sea turtles. There was always something new to learn with every event that I was able to attend and help with.
I also really liked the flexibility of being able to essentially choose your own schedule, they emailed out a list of dates and events which made it easier to schedule service hours, and I enjoyed not being tied down to a specific time slot of hours every week. Save the Whales is a great organization and if I was still in Monterey Bay I would have loved to continue volunteering for them, they really do a good job of serving their community and I am so thankful for the opportunities they gave me.
I never knew volunteering with SavetheWhales would be such an eye-opening and unforgettable experience. At the beginning of it all, I picked working with SavetheWhales as part of my service learning class. I assumed (and hoped) that I was going to be working by myself; all the things that are opposite of a service learning. Then, I found out that I would be working with small children and my heart dropped in my chest. I don't have any patience and teaching children is another work altogether.
However, I persisted and told myself that everything would be okay. Oh, how right was I. My first volunteer experience was going to the Arroyo Seco National Park and helping to teach the kids about the animals that lived there and what was a water shed. Other events were cleaning up part of the Salinas River and teaching grade schoolers about whale anatomy and ocean pollution through Dee the Whale. The pictures below are from these events.
I learned I had a knack and enthusiasm for teaching kids; they listened to me and got excited when I asked them a question. They soaked in everything around them, eager to learn and discover. I even got a hug from a kid!
None of these experiences would have been possible without SavetheWhales. They taught me to go outside of my comfort zone and be able to use knowledge from my classes to teach grade schoolers in a way they could understand.
I will be volunteering with SavetheWhales again and I recommend anyone who wants to do volunteer work, volunteer with SavetheWhales. You will not regret it.
To Maris, Dan, Amanda, Nikki, Christie, Mika, Abigail and Keegan, thank you so much for the opportunity to work with you all in SavetheWhales. I will be coming back soon!
Tom from Save the Whales came to our school and gave a great presentation about whales and sea turtles. His presentation was very hands-on and the kids loved it! They were very excited to learn about the ocean environment and taking care of it. We hope to see him every year!
I am a Third grade teacher in Salinas and have had the privilege of having Tom come to our school to teach the students about whales, otters, sea turtles, and ocean ecology. His presentations are hands on, with lots of activities and actual whale bones and baleen. He shares videos, models and pictures with the students and they are very engaged and interested in everything he shares with us. A lucky child gets to put on the whale costume.
They love his presentations.
I am writing on behalf of students at a local elementary school who participate in our after school program. To be honest, many of our students do not have opportunities to explore nature and the world around other than what we bring to them at the school level.
I reach out to Thomas, Save the Whales, every year. He brings the ocean to life for our students. There is not much more to say other than, when you have 2nd graders repeating key phrases about protecting our resources that Thomas and Save the Whales taught them--- well, need I say more.?
It is a wonderful way to expose the students to different aspects of our ecology, and to be in awe of the wondrous nature around us.
My experience with Save the Whales has been a very enjoyable and fulfilling one. Every event that I have participated in from beach and park litter clean ups, emblem gluing, to tabling at Fiesta del Mar at the Monterey Bay Aquarium has cemented my feeling a part of the community here on the Monterey Peninsula. Not only that, but volunteering with Save the Whales has supplemented my academic work significantly. The conservation education efforts of Save the Whales greatly impact the community through creating awareness and fostering engagement with the local environments.
First, I would like to mention how I learned about the Save the Whales Program.
I was waiting at a Doctor’s office when I noticed a beautifully designed flyer in Spanish: “La Bahia de Monterey Empieza en tu Calle”.
Since I work with Latino students and their parents at a local elementary school in Santa Cruz, I decided to take this information with me to our Parent Meeting and to ask them if they would be interested in learning more. They were very curious and excited about this possibility.
I called Save the Whales to ask if they would like to come to hour school to make a presentation about “Monterey Bay Begins on Your Street” to our Latino Parents. The lovely Maris was very helpful, and arranged a presentation for us.
Save the Wales came to our parent meeting with a Watershed Model of the Monterey Bay to illustrate how the bay really starts on their street. The presentation was very engaging, the visual aids were excellent, and the instructors--including, a young graduate student, who acted as the Spanish translator--were knowledgeable, funny, and fantastic.
This presentation was an eye-opener for the parents, because it was a hands-on presentation, where parents actively participated in the presentation. Some of their comments were: “now I can understand what my son was talking about”;
“I did not know that by lifting a water bottle lid I can help so much”; “I will not wash my car on my driveway anymore”; and, “I will watch out for garbage in the park”.
The presentation was such a total success that other schools in district are interested in have the same presentation at their schools.
As an educator, I am so thankful to the Save the Whales organization for coming to our Latino Parent Meeting and teaching us about the importance of helping to keep our environment clean. Our parents were very thankful to the Save the Whales organization for this opportunity.
A big thank you to Save the Whales!!
Each time our students have the opportunity to attend a classroom presentation from Save the Whales, everyone very much appreciates all that they have learned. Because we are a homeschool program, parents and students have the opportunity to continue learning, whatever topic has been presented. We have been very fortunate to be able to participate in these presentations and look forward to inviting Save The Whales whenever our schedule permits.
Monterey County Home Charter School, Salinas
Students in grades K-8 at the Monterey County Home Charter School were very excited to have the special presentation, Amazing Sea Turtles, to look forward to during the winter break. The information, video, and hands on turtle shells and skulls were especially interesting to students. We look forward to inviting Whales on Wheels to our school again.
I have had the privilege of serving as an intern at Save the Whales for two and a half years. It has been an honor to be involved with an organization that touches the lives of so many, human and non-human. I have never met someone who does as much to help animals as Maris. She is an exemplary human being in that she is completely selfless and will stop at nothing to make the world a better place. She works tirelessly and is directly involved with every aspect of STW, whether it is doing administrative work, speaking in classrooms, or kneeling next to a storm drain to attach an emblem.
As an intern, I have been involved in many different projects and I am always amazed at how multifaceted STW proves to be. I have spoken in classrooms and at public outreach events such as Whalefest, participated in litter-cleanups, affixed emblems to storm drains, labeled non-toxic chemicals in Orchard Supply and Home Depot, collected and statistically analyzed public intercept surveys, and contacted local car washes to suggest a voucher program. One of the most touching experiences I've had with STW was hosting a field trip for South County schoolchildren, many of which had never been to the beach. As the children eagerly posed for a class photo, a pod of dolphins appeared in the background. It was as if nature was smiling in approval.
I can honestly say that Save the Whales has changed my life. I have learned humility, compassion, and respect for nature. I have learned that there really is no such thing as "one-time use" or "throwing away". Plastic does not just go "away". It persists in the environment and its effects can be devastating. Working with Save the Whales has also made me realize my passion for science education, and it is now my career goal to teach biology at a university.
Monterey Bay needs Save the Whales. Maris is the voice of marine organisms that cannot speak for themselves. She teaches children and adults alike to love animals and to protect them by changing destructive habits. She helps people make informed decisions about the products they use and teaches them how to reduce their carbon footprint. It has been an absolute honor working for Save the Whales, and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for this organization.
The City of Gonzales and its “Gonzales Grows Green” Community Sustainability Initiative depends on Save the Whales to support our goals of providing high-quality environmental education and outreach to our community. They engage with our community in ways that are relevant to both our geographic location and demographic makeup.
While there is much focus on our oceans (as there should be), many inland communities such as ours face pressing issues such as litter, blight, illegal dumping, stormwater contamination, and lack of understanding of the importance of waste reduction, reuse, and recycling. Whether it is our summer library program, summer day camps, after-school programs, a weekend community cleanup event, or community event in our park, Save the Whales finds unique ways to complement and add depth and context to our efforts to educate our community on our specific environmental challenges.
The programs and staff of Save the Whales are my go-to education partners. Their education programs are fun, engaging, and hands-on! When connected with our library’s summer program this past year, over 100 parents and children showed up for the event (a huge turnout for our small community). Their programs help participants consider both the negative and positive consequences of their actions on a local and global level. Their programs offer practical solutions for change that empowers individuals in our community to be collective agents of change.
I am a 2nd grade teacher in Castroville, CA. My students got to experience the program on sea otters by Save the Whales. My students had an amazing time learning about sea otters, touching sea otter artifacts, acting out sea otter behavior, and dressing up as a sea otter. I am very thankful for Save the Whales doing these presentations for students and look forward to having Save the Whales visit again.