Formerly known as the Shoreline Preservation Fund, UCSB’s Coastal Fund celebrated its tenth anniversary with a banquet at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum last Friday evening. Having given approximately $1.5 million over the past decade, many environmentally minded projects have been funded through the grant program. Administered through UCSB’s Associated Students, members of the student body are heavily involved in picking which projects get funded. Over the past few years, students on the board of directors have been responsible for awarding nearly $350,000 per year in grants to organizations such as Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, Heal the Ocean, the Watershed Resource Center, and the Marine Science Institute. Categories for accepted projects run the gamut from research and education programs to preservation and coastal access projects, and many students have benefited by working on the projects.
Ocean Channel co-founder Michael Hanrahan - who has also co-produced the Santa Barbara Ocean Film Festival for a number of years - spoke at last week’s banquet about a project his organization has recently taken up in concert with UCSB’s Environmental Media Initiative. Dubbed Blue Horizons, the Coastal Fund-backed program established a nine-week video journalism course for marine science-oriented students to learn how to communicate coastal environmental issues they are studying using the latest in digital video technology. The idea, he said, is to use video and the internet as a serious medium source to bridge the gap between a cadre of professional scientists and the television production crowd that is generally looked down upon by the scientific community. Hanrahan posited that this program will allow serious scientists to more widely circulate important work.