As many UCSB students already know, our campus takes an extremely active role in preserving our natural environment and creating ways for students to live sustainably. In order to give back to our local community, students and faculty will be participating in a Paddle Out for the Gaviota Coast to raise awareness around the heated political debates regarding the development of California’s last stretch of undeveloped coastline. The event is taking place in conjunction with the Environmental Affairs Board Earth Week, specifically Water Appreciation Day on April 25th!

In addition to the paddle out, Isaiah Walker, former professional surfer from Hawai’i and current professor at Brigham Young University, will be in attendance at the paddle out to support the preservation of the Gaviota Coast. Members of the Environmental Defense Center, Gaviota Coast Conservancy, and student groups such as the Environmental Affairs Board, I.V. Surfider, Coastal Fund, Community Affairs Board, Plastic Pollution Coalition, and others will be in attendance. This is a great opportunity for students who are interested in environmental projects on our campus to network with others and get involved!

The paddle out procession will begin with a parade through campus, complete with students carrying their surfboards, paddle boards, kayaks, and any other floatation devices they can think of! We will march through the UCSB campus gathering anyone who wants to join, while educating passerby about our cause. At 1pm, we will reach Campus Point and have a moment of silence for the beauty of the ocean, then proceed to paddle out! There will be guest speakers, games, and food on the beach for those who do not wish to get wet, but want to learn more about ways they can get involved to keep our coasts protected! We will also being having a photo petition booth to raise additional support, where you can have your picture taken if you support the protection of our beautiful Gaviota coast. At 2pm, there will be a Beach Clean-Up event, where students will pick up trash in reusable burlap sacks from the REEF to Campus Point.

I encourage all of you who are interested in enjoying the natural beauty of our local coastlines for generations to come to paddle out! The weather will be great and the company will be even better, so why not put on your suit, slather on some sunscreen, and grab a board to paddle out with friends to save Gaviota!

Lauren Barnum is a second-year environmental studies major.