By Jennifer Tuohy, Island Eye News Editor
Photos by Steve Rosamilia
Third grade students from Sullivan’s Island Elementary School gathered along the marsh at Station 26 last month to plant the Spartina grass they had been growing in their classroom. All year the students had been nurturing this smooth cord grass from seed in order to restore a mud-flat area of salt marsh. The seeds were harvested in the fall, potted in a greenhouse at school, then planted in the pluff mud to reduce erosion and create a living shoreline that provides valuable stabilization to the marsh.
The school project is part of the Sea Grant Consortium and Department of Natural Resources program “From Seeds to Shoreline.” South Carolina’s coastline has lost important natural buffers and critical habitat, including the salt marsh ecosystem, “From Seeds to Shoreline” aims to engage students in restoring Spartina, the dominant plant in the salt marsh. The program simultaneously benefits the environment and educates the students in the importance of salt marsh ecosystems and environmental stewardship.
“We have 30 schools up and down the coast participating in the program,” Julie Binz, leader of the program and the morning’s supervisor at Station 26, said. “There are 10 in Charleston alone, and the program encompasses grades 3 through 12.”
The students were clearly enjoying getting their feet wet in the pluff mud as they planted their grasses. They also got to participate in some seining, allowing them to get up close and personal with the creatures who depend on the spartina and marshes.