**Photo: Charlie was the Grand Marshal of the Belmont Shore Parade this year and our float won best original design!!

Creating meaningful human experiences has always been foundational to Algalita’s mission – and I intend for my annual letter to be no exception! I hope the updates I share with you today spark a sense hope and excitement, knowing that our organization continues to drive real change towards a cleaner and safer world.

In May 2023, we launched a brand-new program that honors over a decade of Algalita’s work with teachers and students. Wayfinder Society for Environmental Education is a free and open-source program that equips teachers and students with everything they need to explore the deepest depths of environmental education. While this is an online program, it’s much more than a website. Algalita worked with a team of environmental educators for over two years to design a virtual platform that would provide meaningful and effective strategic, financial, and inspirational support for anyone looking to deploy real-time and real-world environmental education in any setting.

The platform is completely free to access with no login required, and all resources can be easily downloaded and adapted via Google Workspace (which teachers LOVE!). We provide educator mini-grants, professional development how-to guides, plus community connection and inspiration through events, articles, and educator spotlights. The program also includes a Student Hub, which hosts a growing collection of over 35 Actions that students can implement in their homes, schools, or communities to earn service-learning hours! The Actions are often co-created with our movement partners, and many lessons have been co-created with real environmental educators to ensure all content is relevant, inclusive, and authentic. See the program for yourself at wayfindersociety.org!

Why are we prioritizing environmental educators? While working within all aspects of the plastic pollution issue, we began to understand the critical role environmental educators play in all environmental movements, and we quickly realized how under-supported they were. These educators, these messengers, have a collective reach like none other. They have the potential to awaken and inspire large groups of young people, over and over every year. Our organization passionately believes environmental educators are our greatest allies in our mission towards a world where plastic pollution is unthinkable – so we’ve doubled-down on doing everything we can to support, inspire, and equip them with tools to partner with us as we work together to foster the next generation of environmental leaders and environmental solutions.

While Wayfinder Society drives Algalita’s global impact, our team is equally dedicated to strengthening our local efforts throughout Southern CA. If you’ve been wondering what Charlie has been up to, this next bit will shed light on what he’s been focused on lately!

In March 2023, Algalita embarked on an ambitious endeavor to develop a brand-new research and education center in Long Beach, CA. In partnership with our sister organization, Moore Institute for Plastic Pollution Research, we secured an ideal location right next door to our Zero Waste Refill Shop – BYO at Algalita. In June 2023, we finished the renovations of a state-of-the-art microplastics lab, a teacher training center and classroom, a technology lab, and workspaces to support visiting scientists.

Named after Charlie, the Moore Plastic Pollution Research and Learning Center now allows Algalita to offer teacher workshops, classroom field trips, citizen science projects, community events, and a unique microplastics lab experience for educators and their students. What’s fantastic about the location of the building is it’s situated right at the entrance of Alamitos Bay, at the end of the San Gabriel River, and right next to a microplastics accumulation zone. Access to the Bay will allow us to partner with the kayak and waterbikes businesses to trawl for plastics with students while enjoying nature. We will be able to test for plastics in sediment with our benthic grab off the San Gabriel bridge, and conduct a suite of other plastic pollution STEM and citizen science activities along Seal Beach. We will be having a grand opening in April 2024, so stay tuned for an invite!

This year also brought us a new and amazing team member, Emily Wanous. As Algalita’s Engagement Director, Emily is building and supporting our community, while celebrating our humanness every step of the way with stories of connection, imagination, and optimism. You can learn more about Emily and the rest of our amazing team here.

I understand donating to an organization is a very personal decision. Something I love about Algalita is since we have a small team, we are an incredibly agile organization, we’re experts at adapting to changing winds. We are resourceful and wise stewards of every single contribution we receive, so if you do decide to support us again this year – I can assure you every penny will make an impact on our work. We hope you are inspired to continue your journey with us, and if you’re ever in town, stop by and say hello!

With great appreciation,
Katie Allen, Executive Director