UCLA School of Public Health Field Studies Program

Community Health Sciences

Field Placement: Heal the Bay
Santa Monica, CA
Haan-Fawn Chau
Student Name: Candace Coffee
Year: 2005

For my field studies internship, I had the honor of completing 400 hours with the environmental and public health organization Heal the Bay. Heal the Bay is located in Santa Monica, CA and focuses on preserving, restoring and protecting the Santa Monica Bay. The organization’s environmental arm extends beyond just the Bay however. In recent years they have become involved in the Los Angeles community to both educate members about our water sources and protect those sources. My internship began in June of 2005 and was completed in March of 2006. Such a lengthy internship has provided me with a wonderful picture of what Heal the Bay is capable of and aims to achieve.

My preceptor, Haan-Fawn Chau, is an extremely intelligent woman and is very passionate about the environment. To prove this point I will share that she has organic vegetables delivered to the office weekly. Her primary role with the organization is to oversee, recruit and train all volunteers at the aquarium. She also manages the aquarium’s interaction with the public in addition to multiple side projects. The Director of the aquarium is Vicki Warwicheck. She too, is extremely dedicated to the organization and very knowledgeable of both Heal the Bay’s concerns and the nonprofit world in general.

The Santa Monica Pier Aquarium is a very special component of Heal the Bay. It is the most tangible way for the Los Angeles community to appreciate what is in our Bay. The aquarium has multiple tanks, including touch tanks where visitors can actually touch the animals. There is also a science lab with microscopes, a pollution demonstration, a reading corner and a classroom.

My experience at Heal the Bay has been two part. One portion of my internship was dedicated to learning the ins and outs of its workings. I went through every training program they offered including, volunteer docent training, Speaker’s Bureau training, Beach clean-up training and Key to the Sea training. By learning about the many programs the organization offers, I felt I was better prepared and had a more solid knowledge base.

The second portion of my internship focused on special projects that were delegated to me, such as researching funding sources, launching fundraisers and researching educational materials. I began the development of a grants database. I also designed and launched the “Aquadoption” program to raise funds, awareness and public participation at the aquarium. Throughout my internship, I was also given the opportunity to write articles for the multiple newsletters distributed by Heal the Bay. My favorite part, however, was working as a Naturalist with the school children who would come to the aquarium to explore and learn about pollution prevention. Many of these children are from inland schools and have never been to the beach before. Nothing is more rewarding than sharing in a child’s first encounter with the ocean


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