Tampa Bay Watch’s Bay Grasses in Classes (BGIC) program aims to facilitate youth involvement in habitat restoration efforts by allowing students to work side-by–side with local scientists to help restore the Tampa Bay watershed. At participating schools, students help to create a wetland nursery where they plant, maintain, and harvest estuarine wetland plants to be replanted into targeted coastal areas. Coastal wetland plants stabilize shorelines, act as storm buffers, filter storm water runoff, and provide habitat for many wildlife species. Throughout the school year, state standard-aligned educational curriculum is offered in conjunction with our service learning projects in order to provide critical knowledge and promote environmental stewardship.
If you are a middle or high school science/agriculture teacher and interested in joining the BGIC program or have questions about the program, contact Tara Kok.
The Benefits of Coastal Wetland Plants
- Stabilizes shorelines and protects against erosion
- Provides foraging sites for many species of birds and other wildlife
- Marine wildlife like fish, crabs, oysters, and shrimp depend on coastal wetlands for food, spawning grounds, or protection
- Coastal wetlands provide a popular recreation site for fishing, bird watching, kayaking and more
- Absorbs wave energy from storms and reduces flooding
- Filters pollutants and marine debris from entering our waterways
- Coastal wetlands store large amounts of carbon in their soils and act as long-term carbon sinks
What Do School Plantings Provide?
- Planting activities give students an opportunity to take an active role in restoring the environment while promoting environmental and community stewardship
- The BGIC program provides a regular source of native wetland plants for use in habitat restoration projects around Tampa Bay.
- Providing field trips in conjunction with classroom projects and lesson plans encourages student engagement and provides a more holistic, integrated approach to teaching environmental sciences.
If your school is not a good fit for a wetland plant nursery, there may be other ways to participate in habitat restoration projects through our BGIC program. Please contact us for more details.