youth education

Empowering and energizing the next generation of conservation leaders for positive change.

Friends of the San Juans has engaged youth in science and conservation education in local schools for over 20 years. We currently offer two programs for youth engagement: the Immersive Salish Sea Education Program and High School Student Mentorships.



Immersive Salish Sea Education Program

Experience the Salish Sea up close and personal!

The Immersive Education Program collaborates with teachers and community leaders to inspire and educate youth about the natural wonders of the Salish Sea and the importance of the marine food web in the San Juan Islands.

For youth groups and classrooms in San Juan County:

Our Immersive Education Program guides students via visual storytelling, virtual reality, and hands-on field trips. Youth explore their sense of place and identity in the San Juan Islands and Salish sea environment. Oculus virtual reality headsets bring students underwater to swim with salmon and forage fish, experiencing first-hand the habitats of vital keystone species. Engaging videos & virtual reality technology provide experiential education opportunities, making the learning experience relevant & exciting. 

After using virtual reality headsets via the Immersive Education Program, youth members shared, “I had never seen salmon in their natural habitat so vividly, so it surprised me how much personality they had. The way the fish moved was just so majestic.” Another student shared, “The oculus [virtual reality headset] made me feel like I could focus on any little thing and become engrossed in it, and then I could turn around and become fascinated in another detail.”

For classrooms outside of the San Juan Islands:

Coming Soon! A self-guided, online education platform with lessons, activities, and prompts to guide youth through an engaging experience about the critical habitats and ecosystems that make the San Juan Islands and the Salish Sea so unique, wild, and wonderful!

Stay up to date on the release of our online curriculum! Email [email protected]

Immersive Education programming is made possible thanks to Friends’ Members, Mountaineers Foundation, Keta Legacy Foundation, the Wheeler Foundation, and Tulalip Charitable Fund.



High School Student Mentorships

For youth passionate about the outdoors in San Juan County.

Join us weekly for discussions with local youth, and meet and collaborate with others who care about the environment and are committed to creating positive change! Learn about critical habitats and the pressures our local marine ecosystems face. Receive guidance and support in advancing environmental projects in your school or community. Learn about the legislative process and raise your voice to create change. Visit Olympia to talk to your state government officials about your concerns. Take action in the field through community science and restoration opportunities.

Friends staff currently meets with high school students weekly via the following clubs:

Friday Harbor Eco Club, Tuesdays during lunchtime in the STEM building
and Orcas High School Environmental Club, Mondays during lunchtime

Ready to learn more about what youth mentorships might look like for you?
Email [email protected]

Youth mentorship programming is made possible thanks to Friends’ Members,
The Madrona Institute, and The Orcas Community Foundation.

We chose to live on the westside of San Juan Island because of its natural beauty, and we want to preserve it for future generations. That’s where the Friends of the San Juans come in. Since their inception, they have been the guardians of the Salish Sea and this place we call home.

Glen and Deb Bruels

members, San Juan Island