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CBA's Grasses in Classes Celebrates Fifth Year in Schools

October 6, 2015 by SoWal Staff

To kick off their fifth year, the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance (CBA) along with 2,300 third and fifth graders established salt marsh nurseries at local schools in Okaloosa and Walton counties. During the course of the 2015-2016 Grasses in Classes Program, CBA will implement 21 programs and establish 63 saltmarsh nurseries.
CBA’s Grasses in Classes program is a student-led habitat restoration initiative that gives students a direct role in the conservation of Choctawhatchee Bay. CBA provides teachers in Okaloosa and Walton Counties with the equipment and materials required to grow shoreline grasses at their schools. In addition to maintaining salt marsh nurseries, students participate in monthly activities administered by the CBA/AmeriCorps staff. Each lesson meets Florida’s statewide education standards, while focusing on how shoreline grasses help prevent erosion and provide critical habitat to both land and marine life.    

Throughout the month of October, students will participate in their first lesson which includes the planting and establishment of the salt marsh nurseries at their individual schools. While planting the smooth cordgrass, students learn how salt marsh plants help sustain the health of the Choctawhatchee Bay. At the end of the year-long program, students will travel to a restoration site along the Choctawhatchee Bay to transplant their matured smooth cordgrass.

“It is great to see students develop an interest in not only science, but in their local environment,” says Brittany Tate, Education Coordinator for CBA. “Through Grasses in Classes, students become an active part of the Choctawhatchee Bay watershed.”
CBA and AmeriCorps will work with 17 elementary schools in Okaloosa County and 4 elementary schools in Walton County, reaching close to 2,300 students every month. Through this program, CBA hopes to develop young water stewards, who from a young age become aware of their local ecosystems.
This year the program is celebrating five years of implementation in Okaloosa and Walton county schools. To date, over 8,000 students have helped to restore the Choctawhatchee Bay by planting 9,000 plants at 10 different restoration sites.  

Find out more about CBA adventure tours and educational events on their website, see volunteer programs and sign up for the newsletter! Follow Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance on Facebook for updates, photos and information regarding our waterways.

The Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance of Northwest Florida State College is an organization committed to sustaining the Choctawhatchee Basin watershed. CBA provides opportunities for citizens, educators, and technical experts to get involved. The Choctawhatchee Bay watershed is a vital resource for the college and the community the college serves. The organization continues to be a collaboration of citizen, government, and scientific interests. Learn more in SoWal Groups and visit www.basinalliance.org to participate in an eco-tour. 


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