CHS Student Advocates for Clean Water at Sacramento Ocean Day Program

Sean Wilbur and Jamie, from the YMCA, on their way to participate in Ocean Day in Sacramento. Photo Courtesy of Sean Wilbur

Coronado High School Sophomore Sean Wilbur was invited to Sacramento on May 7th to participate in the Ocean Day Program petitioning California politicians to take action and protect and clean up our oceans. Sean is Co-Founder and Vice President for the CHS Stop Sewage Club and works closely with the local Adult Stop the Sewage Club led by Laura Wilkinson Sinton. Laura along with Courtney Baltiyskyy, VP of Policy and Advocacy for the San Diego YMCA, were looking for youth and young adults to join the efforts of the growing Ocean Day Program. According to its website, “Ocean Day is a chance to bring our love of the ocean to the state’s Capitol in Sacramento. If you sign up for this 19th annual lobby day, you’ll join part of a team that will meet with state leaders at the Capitol on May 7 to lobby in support of important legislation that will protect our coast and ocean. This is a chance to dip your toes into the world of ocean policy; as well as to hear from fellow activists, artists and decision-makers from across the state who are passionate about our stretch of the Pacific Ocean.”

Ocean Day Poster, courtesy of website.

Sean was part of a lobbying team who met with politicians to discuss and advocate for the Tijuana Industrial Sewage Bill SB1178. Sean and his group were able to meet with California State Assembly members Alex Lee and Laura Friedman and focused on how to tackle ocean contaminants that come from companies toxic waste.  Sean’s role was to share how the current water quality problems faced in Coronado and San Diego affect residents, especially the youth.

Sean Wilbur, a member of the Surfrider club and EnviroAction club stands with Kailani Lenert advocating for government officials to take more action to clean up the sewage problem in Coronado.

Sean founded the CHS Stop the Sewage Club with some of his friends in the summer of 2023 and since then they have hosted two beach rallies, organized a youth awareness event, created a letter writing campaign, and spoke with the State Coastal Commission. Sean said, “My goal going forward is to carry the student momentum we have built and channel it into the summer and onward into the next school year. We are forming bonds with local officials and leaders and creating connections that will help our message grow until a solution is found.”  Sean’s objective during his trip to Sacramento was to “gain lobbying experience and try to show youth support for the bills that will help change the ocean conditions for Coronado.”

Participants at Ocean Day in Sacramento pose for a picture. Courtesy of Sean Wilbur.

While in Sacramento, Sean spoke to the assembly members saying “how the contamination in the water affects life in our community, as well as how the contaminants make their way into the sea spray that flows into our classrooms. I highlighted how as we were sitting in that meeting, my little brother was in a classroom less than a thousand feet from the toxic sea spray, and how every day, citizens, students, and tourists of Coronado are hurt by the ocean sewage, contaminants, and trash.” Sean said he thinks he was the only high school student that participated and, to his knowledge, the only Coronado resident. He hopes that he can bring an increasing number of students and community members up to advocate with him in the future.

Sean said “Leading up to the event, I was both nervous and excited, but I was really excited for the unique life experience that it was going to be. I have been trying to open up to unique opportunities I am presented with, going to new places, doing new things, and trying out various fields I might want to pursue in the future.” Sean said he doesn’t know exactly what he wants to do when he is older but he is very interested in environmental and sustainable engineering. The experience overall taught Sean a great deal, he said, “The event itself taught me a lot about working at the upper echelon of politics and how to meet with new people and forge connections based on common passions. Overall, I think what I learned most was how to adapt to being in new environments, picking up on social cues, moving between different levels of formality, and walking around a city by myself with my own schedule and my own goals helped teach me a lot of things I will need to know going into college and life beyond.” Sean also talked with college students who participated in the event and gained valuable knowledge on what he should be focusing on as he applies to colleges.

Sean felt like he was able to make an impact during his trip to Sacramento. He felt that the Assembly Members recognized the power of having young advocates participating in this type of event. He said, “They [the politicians] saw a team of constituents, aged from high school up to retirement, walk into their office for one common goal, to help our oceans.”


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