I’ve been M.I.A. for a few days as I took our 6th grade class on an overnight trip to Grand Isle for our annual planting of coastal grasses, bitter panicum.
Coastal Roots Goal: To assist students in developing an attitude of stewardship toward our natural resources and to provide an active learning situation in which they can explore strategies for sustaining our coastal ecosystems.
Coastal Roots Objectives: · Conduct an on-going school-based nursery program growing native plants. · Involve students in a hands-on habitat restoration planting. · Provide teachers and students with information on issues such as ecological stewardship, wetlands functions/values, wetland loss, habitat restoration & conservation, as well as basic horticulture skills.
Coastal Roots Participation Current (2006-7): 18 schools in 10 parishes impacting 750 students each year Projected (2010-11): 40 schools in 16 parishes impacting 2,000 students each year Cumulative impact after five years: 6,700 students involved in CR habitat restoration activities Students participating in the project range from Grade 4 through 12. The project has been integrated into special education classes, elementary science, middle school (life and earth science), high school (biology and environmental science). Informal education groups have also participated (e.g., 4H, science clubs, etc.)
Coastal Roots work plan · Seed preparation, planting, and germination of seeds (winter, early spring); ~1000 plants · Maintenance of seedlings & nursery (spring through fall) · Restoration field trips by students (late fall, winter) · Nursery cleaning and preparation for next seed planting (winter) Schools are matched with a specific restoration site so that site biologists can work with schools to (1) select appropriate plants needed for habitat restoration programs at the site, (2) educate students about ecological restoration needs of the site. Plants have included black mangrove, southern wax myrtle, hackberry, red mulberry, southern bald cypress, live oak and bitter panicum.
During early autumn, schools may wish to retain a portion of their plant stock in their nursery for a second year’s growth. These seedlings will be transplanted to larger tree containers and grown for an additional year (commonly called “bumping up”).
My 6th grade Earth Science classes planted nearly 400 bitter panicum plants along a stretch of coastline in the Grand Isle State Park.
I too was so happy to run into Sammy and Beth and a group from Thibodaux who were hosting a bird watching group. Sammy and I taught together from 1990-1994.
Our group also toured the Grand Isle Nature Conservancy as well as the Coast Guard station.
The two days were an excellent, hands-on lesson on our own coastal ecology.
Bitter Panicum, y’all!