Restoration Program Engages Students
South Carolina has more than 350,000 acres of salt marsh, but the pressures of development, natural processes, and other stresses can threaten this critical habitat. Now, a new Consortium education program—“From Seeds to Shoreline”—aims to help restore the salt marsh while educating students about the important functions of this habitat.
Elizabeth Vernon Bell, S.C. Sea Grant marine education specialist, initiated the pilot program in October 2010. Approximately 700 students from eight elementary, middle, and high schools in the Charleston, S.C., area are involved with the program, as well as one home school.
Students grow Spartina alterniflora, the smooth cordgrass that makes up salt marsh habitat in South Carolina, in a greenhouse, and then transplant young seedlings in areas that need restoration.
Among the restoration sites are areas around oyster reefs built by S.C. Department of Natural Resources’ S.C. Oyster Restoration and Enhancement program. More than 10,000 plants have been seeded, the majority of which are transplanted, but some are kept at the schools so that students can test different variables such as exposure to different levels of sunlight, water, and temperatures. The program is aligned to South Carolina State Science Standards.
“From Seeds to Shoreline” is funded by the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium, and collaborating partners include Clemson University’s Coastal Research and Education Center, S.C. Department of Natural Resources, and the Ashley-Cooper Stormwater Education Consortium.