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Grants at Work: Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies

New Dock Expands Opportunities for Children of all Ages and Abilities

Stationed in the beautiful Kachemak Bay of Homer, Alaska, the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies (CACS) connects people of all ages with the unique marine and coastal ecosystems of the 50-mile Bay. Visitors have the opportunity to observe up close any number of land and marine wildlife, including sea stars, octopus, red squirrels, black bears, harbor seals, sea otters, and myriad land and seabirds

CACS teaches environmental stewardship and science-based education, with a special focus on youth, through direct interaction with the abundant sea life available in the Kenai Peninsula. What began as a series of volunteer-led springtime field trips in 1982 has since grown into a robust environmental organization that conducts 50 coastal ecology, oceanography and wetlands education programs each year for students from schools across nearly 20 Alaska communities.

At its Peterson Bay Field Station, CACS runs an outdoor classroom and laboratory with educational opportunities both in the miles of coastal forest trails and on the water. Unfortunately., some of these facilities were only accessible on a wooden dock that was located on a shifting sandbar. To further complicate things, the dock could only be accessed at high tide by ferry. This made it challenging for students with disabilities to fully experience all that the Station had to offer. With school programs running in the spring and fall, and youth camps, tours and special overnight programs in the summer, the facility needed a significant upgrade.  In partnership with the Murdock Trust, the CACS staff installed a permanent aluminum dock offering easier and safer access for people of all abilities.

Today, youth with disabilities can now participate with their peers in the fun and educational programs at the Peterson Bay Field Station, including touch tanks and tide pools. Additionally, the new dock allowed CACS to launch its Coastal Ecology tours for adults. The Murdock Trust is proud to partner with CACS to help teach the importance of environmental stewardship and inspire children through innovative educational programs.