The MERITO and Hokuloa Outrigger Canoe Club Combined Their Efforts

Nearly sixty 8th-grade students from DATA Middle School navigated the Hokuloa and learned about ocean stewardship. 

by Rocío Lozano-Knowlton
Executive Director, MERITO Foundation

The MERITO Foundation and the Hokuloa Outrigger Canoe Club amplified their impact by combining efforts, expertise, and resources. They worked together to provide meaningful experiences to close to sixty 8th-grade students from DATA Middle School about what it is like, how it feels, and how exhilarating it is to navigate the Hōkūleʻa way.

Hōkūleʻa is the traditional Polynesian style of voyaging using outrigger canoes, your physical strengths, and by working in teams. The experiences occurred at Ventura Harbor on April 10 and 11, 2024, combined with ocean research and monitoring activities for the same students at the beach focused on plankton collection and identification, and the monitoring of microplastics.

The experiences took place after months of planning, coordination, and preparation by all involved, from MERITO raising the funds to cover buses, the lifeguard on duty, the safety and other water sports gear; the teaching of relevant ocean science lesson plans drawn from MERITO Foundation’s curricula in the classroom by Ms. Jennifer Willis and Ms. Laurel Davidson; the introduction to Hokuloa Outrigger Canoe Club in the school classes by Ms. Yvonne Menard, Chair of the Hokuloa Outrigger Canoe Club, and the time volunteered by the members.

The idea behind combining a water sport traditionally underrepresented in minority youth with hands-on ocean science experiences is to ignite interest in both the water sport and ocean stewardship. The students just loved it! You could see it in their happy faces. Not one student looked bored or even remembered their phone existed, said Rocío Lozano-Knowlton, founder and director of the MERITO Foundation.

This experience was one of many provided by the ‘From the Avenue to the Channel Islands’ (ATCI) Program of the MERITO Foundation funded by an Outdoors Equity Grant, created through AB 209 and administered by California State Parks, Office of Grants, and Local Services.

More information at

Credit goes to the Outdoor Equity Grant of State Parks

Print Friendly, PDF & Email