The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum announced the expansion of its Maritime on the Move program to now include three locations as well as activity guides in English and Spanish.

“What drives a lot of our programs is teaching children about their local environments and how to appreciate our history and impacts on the ocean,” Rita Serotkin, marketing and social media coordinator at the museum, told Noozhawk. “We’re trying to find ways to reach out to the community more.”

Originally piloted in Carpinteria, the Maritime on the Move program now encompasses activity guides and self-guided tours for the Santa Barbara Harbor and Lake Oso Flaco in Guadalupe, with additional materials being developed for the Santa Ynez Valley and Lompoc, according to Serotkin.

Program materials include various free and virtual components, self-guided tours in the field, individual activity kits, teacher and parent training materials, and guided tour maps, she added. All of the resources can be customized by teachers and parents using resources online or by looking for other educational outdoor activities.

“We’ve used these materials to be able to create a virtual class trip or field trips for teachers to share with their students,” Serotkin said. “The program brings museum-quality experiences to sites throughout Santa Barbara County.”

Additionally, all program activity guide books are now available in English and Spanish.

“One of the things we realized is that we do have a lot of Spanish-speaking visitors, and we came to learn that we didn’t really have anything to serve that population,” Serotkin said. “We’ve been really starting to look at all the things we already do and how we can expand on them.”

The program is offered in several modalities, including in the field in-person with a naturalist, as a self-guided tour, live or pre-recorded in-the-field webinar, and in-classroom with a naturalist.

The Maritime on the Move program was first pioneered in February with 150 middle school students from Carpinteria, and instead of having children visit the museum, the program focused on sending biologists and naturalists from the museum to schools to have students explore the marine ecosystems in their own backyards.

“Getting kids outdoors here in Santa Barbara where we are so fortunate to have such a rich, diverse and healthy marine ecosystem is just so important,” said Holly Lohuis, a marine biologist and educator at the museum. “Just giving students that emotional connection to appreciating the greater outdoors and the habitats that surround them is really fulfilling.”

“This seemed like a good choice because one of the things we have discovered is that a lot of people still have difficulty coming to the museum,” Serotkin added. “We started to think about how we can take the museum to the schools.”

However, just weeks after the program was piloted, the world came to a “screeching halt” when the novel coronavirus hit Santa Barbara County and the museum had to close its doors.

“Once we had to close down, we started focusing on what we can do to develop new programs,” she said. “We had all this free time to be able to do that.”

Coordinators at the museum shifted gears to provide the program to students in a virtual, self-guided way to continue maritime education.

“This program is designed to have kids look around themselves and observe,” Serotkin said. “We want to teach kids to ask questions and appreciate the rich environments around them.”

Noozhawk staff writer Jade Martinez-Pogue can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Jade Martinez-Pogue

Jade Martinez-Pogue, Noozhawk Staff Writer

Noozhawk staff writer Jade Martinez-Pogue can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.