Lewis Students Help Restore Critical Habitat Along Choctawhatchee Bay

Area third and fifth graders complete the Grasses in Classes program by planting shoreline grasses

May, 2014—As the school year draws to an end, students across Okaloosa County wrapped up a year-long restoration project.  Throughout the 2013-2014 school year, around 1,200 students at 11 Okaloosa County Schools participated in Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance’s (CBA) Grasses in Classes Program.

Grasses in Classes encourages students to develop an interest in the local environment by growing shoreline grasses at their school.  Throughout May, these students saw the hands-on, science program full circle by taking a field trip to Choctawhatchee Bay.   Rotating through stations, students not only explored the habitat they learned about all year, but l also planted their smooth cordgrass at a restoration site.

“The field trips provide a perfect opportunity for students to connect their science education to their local environment,” commented Brittany Tate, Education Coordinator for CBA.  “The experience students’ gain encourages them to become an active part of the Choctawhatchee Bay watershed.”  

CBA provided teachers in Okaloosa County the equipment and materials required to grow shoreline grasses at their schools.  In addition to maintaining salt marsh nurseries, students participated in monthly activities administered by an educational teamed staffed through an AmeriCorps partnership.  Each lesson was correlated to meet Florida’s science standards, and focused on the relationship between shoreline grasses and the health of the Choctawhatchee Bay.

Throughout May, CBA hosted 12 field trips at 5 different restoration sites along the bay.  The students planted close to 2,000 shoreline grasses by the end of the month, which in return, will help to slow erosion and provide a critical, intertidal habitat.

For more information about the Grasses in Classes field trips, please contact Brittany Tate at (850) 217-5382 or tateb@nwfsc.edu.

OKALOOSA COUNTY SCHOOLS INVOLVED IN GRASSES IN CLASSES:

Antioch Elementary (5th Grade)
Bluewater Elementary (5th Grade)
Destin Elementary (3rd Grade)
Edge Elementary (5th Grade)
Kenwood Elementary (5th Grade)
Lewis Elementary (5th Grade)
Longwood Elementary (5th Grade)
Mary Esther Elementary (5th Grade)
Riverside Elementary (5th Grade)
Walker Elementary (3rd Grade)
Wright Elementary (5th Grade)

PHOTOS