Grasses In Classes
About Grasses in Classes
CBA’s Grasses in Classes program is a hands-on, environmental education project that gives students a direct role the restoration of Choctawhatchee Bay. Working in partnership with the West Florida Regional Planning Council, USFWS Coastal Program, Florida Department of Environmental Protection Ecosystem Restoration Section and University of Florida Institute of Food and Agriculture Science extension agents, CBA provides teachers in Okaloosa and Walton Counties the equipment and materials required to grow shoreline grasses at their schools.
Students receive education in the role of shoreline grasses in preventing erosion and providing critical habitat, while they tend salt marsh nurseries throughout the school year. In addition to maintaining salt marsh nurseries, students participate in monthly activities administered by the CBA/AmeriCorps staff. Each lesson is correlated to meet Florida’s Sunshine State Science Standards, while focusing on how shoreline grasses help prevent erosion and provide critical habitat.
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. When plants mature, kids can participate in planting them at one of our living shoreline project sites. Grasses in Classes participants receive hands-on, environmental education about the ecosystem, while providing for restoration of Choctawhatchee Bay.
CBA currently work with 16 schools in Okaloosa County in Walton County, reaching close to 1,600 students. Through this program, CBA hopes to develop young water stewards, who from a young age become aware of their local ecosystems. To learn more about the GIC curriculum, check out our teacher and student pages.
History of CBA's GIC Program
2010-2011 School Year
Before 2011, CBA implemented a minimal Grasses in Classes Program (GIC) in only three schools. The programs consisted of an initial lesson, in which students established their salt marsh nurseries, and possibly a field trip to plant their grasses along the shoreline of the Choctawhatchee Bay. Throughout the year, students maintained the salinity levels of their nurseries with no consistent guidance from CBA. Additional lessons and supplemental activities were administered by the science teacher if he or she wished to connect the program to their classroom studies.
2011-2012 School Year
The growth and expansion of the Grasses in Classes Program relied heavily on the partnership developed with AmeriCorps, a service group that addresses critical community needs in education and the environment. Through this synergy, an education team formed, which met the needs and goals of both organizations. The relationship garnered enough manpower to provide monthly lessons to over 800 students in the Okaloosa County School District. Through the AmeriCorps partnership, a refined, fully developed education project arose that provide students throughout the watershed with an interactive program directed at expanding their interest of science.
2012-2013 School Year
With the start of the 2012-2013 school year, community partners continued to support the Grasses in Classes program. GIC now reaches 1600 students in Okaloosa and Walton Counties. Through the expansion, a need for a third grade curriculum arose, allowing CBA to diversify education efforts throughout the watershed. As with the previous year, an AmeriCorps education team is leading monthly lessons to both third and fifth graders. Last year, CBA noticed a need for teacher workshops to educate educators on the watershed and topics being delivered by the GIC program. At the start of the school year, a small workshop was held for the science chairs at every school in Okaloosa County. The workshop focused on teaching attendees about the Choctawhatchee Bay watershed, as well as providing additional activities teachers can replicate in their own classroom that meet the benchmarks set forth by the state of Florida.