Side view of the Bechtel Center for Ocean Education and Leadership

Introducing Our Bechtel Education Center

With tremendous gratitude to all of our dedicated supporters, we just opened our Bechtel Family Center for Ocean Education and Leadership. The center greatly deepens our commitment to preparing new generations of ocean conservation leaders.

The center expands our fundamental promise to provide California students, teens and teachers with free educational opportunities that foster a greater understanding of our ocean planet and a commitment to protect it. It also enables us to reach more schools in underserved communities and invite their students and teachers to the Aquarium so they can experience the power of science.

Bechtel Education Center rooftop garden
A native plant rooftop garden is one of many features that make the building itself part of the learning experience.
Classroom setup inside the Bechtel Education Center
New learning labs with live animal exhibits expand our capacity to deliver facilitated programs to visiting students.

Each year since opening our doors in 1984, we have hosted 80,000 schoolchildren from across California for free school field trips. About 300 teens a year develop their knowledge and leadership skills as they engage in environmental research, service learning and conservation action. More than 1,500 teachers develop their skills in ecosystem-based approaches to science education as they engage in our professional development programs.

The new $42 million center makes it possible to expand these programs, sharing the wonders of the ocean with schoolchildren and teachers in new and exciting ways. By 2023, we expect that 90 percent of visiting students will take part in hands-on, inquiry-based classes led by our educators. The center will enable us to host twice as many teens in leadership programs and twice as many teachers in professional development programs — all provided free of charge.

We are especially grateful to the Bechtel family and the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation for their leadership gift to make the new center possible. We also thank Gordon and Betty Moore for their major support of this transformative project.


View of the Bechtel Education Center rooftop from behind the building


  • Located just a few blocks from the Aquarium on Cannery Row
  • 26,000 square feet and four stories
  • Four learning labs with live animal displays
  • Collaborative learning spaces for teens and teachers
  • Multipurpose room for large gatherings and student lunches
  • Rooftop garden and meeting space
  • Public exhibit space
  • Designed to meet U.S. Green Building Council's LEED gold standards for sustainability, including solar panels and passive solar energy, a living roof and water conservation features

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Annual Review 2018 (PDF)

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  • © Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation