CBA’s Grasses in Classes is a hands-on, environmental education program that gives students a direct role in the restoration of Choctawhatchee Bay. In partnership with AmeriCorps and with partial funding from the USFWS Coastal Program, Boeing Corporation, and National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, CBA provides teachers in Okaloosa and Walton Counties the equipment and materials required to grow shoreline grasses at their school.
Grasses in Classes students tend salt marsh nurseries throughout the school year, and receive monthly education on local estuarine topics that meet Florida’s state science standards from CBA and CBA partners (e.g. AmeriCorps members). Periodically, the schoolchildren split the grasses to increase the nursery stock. At the end of the school year, Grasses in Classes culminates with students planting their shoreline grasses at one of our salt marsh restoration sites along Choctawhatchee Bay as part of our living shoreline initiative. The program instills a love of local habitat, restores shoreline, and inspires the next generation of watershed stewards.
For more on the history of the Grasses in Classes program, click here.
The Dunes in Schools program educates middle school students about the rare dune lake and barrier island ecosystems which exist in their local environment. Collaborating with school districts, middle school classrooms are provided with the materials and supplies needed to grow sea oats. In addition to growing sea oats, students work through an online curriculum built around nine modules. The modules build students’ knowledge about the dynamic coastal systems and how their sea oats will benefit this habitat. After the participating middle schools complete the Dunes in Schools curriculum, students will travel to a local dune lake or beach to plant their mature sea oats. While on the trip, students will see first-hand the ecosystem they studied through the online course.
By offering the Dunes in Schools program in a digital delivery method, students are able to enhance their computer literacy through the exploration of the nine science modules. Each of the nine modules are correlated to the State of Florida’s Science middle school standards. To ensure concepts are supported throughout the implementation of the program, teacher trainings are offered. During the trainings, teachers become comfortable with the Dunes in School’s online classroom, along with the concepts and material covered throughout the modules. Being a nine part online curriculum, the teachers involved are able to implement the Dunes in Schools program in a format that best suits their personal classroom needs, whether that is over a 9-month period or in a 9-week grading period. Dunes in Schools provides students with a hands-on science program that encourages each of them to become personally vested in their local environment by gaining an understanding and awareness of coastal systems.
“From Shelves to Shores” is offered at community libraries. The program runs for six weeks in June and July, offering fun hands-on activities. Our final activity will be a trip to Choctawhatchee bay for an exciting field trip!
Local citizen scientists and volunteers join our program and raise their own oyster gardens for restoration. With weekly maintenance amounting to only one hour per week, it’s easy to add oyster gardening to weekend morning routines. If you do not have your own dock, no need to worry. We also need Oyster Allies to help our monitoring team with data collection and garden maintenance for dock owners that may not have the ability to maintain their gardens as often as needed.
Our goal is to promote environmental awareness and facilitate hands-on learning for both our students and volunteers by restoring one acre of oyster habitat in Choctawhatchee Bay. Community stewards, students, and CBA will construct two new oyster reefs, eventually colonizing them with community-grown oysters.
A rain barrel is a system that collects and stores rainwater from your rooftop that would otherwise be lost to runoff and diverted to storm drains and streams. Rain barrels are relatively simple and inexpensive to construct, and can sit conveniently under a residential gutter down spout, or any spot where rain runs off of the roof.
Outdoor irrigation accounts for up to 50% of water use in Florida, and up to 50% of the water applied to lawns is lost to evaporation or runoff. Capturing rainwater for use in the landscape makes efficient use of a valuable resource, reducing water bills and reducing demand on water supply.
Water collected with a rain barrel can be used to water plants, wash your car, or to top a swimming pool. It provides homeowners with a supply of free “soft water” that contains no chlorine, lime, or calcium, making it ideal for gardens, flower pots, and car/window washing. A rain barrel will save most homeowners about 1,300 gallons of water during the peak summer months. Saving water saves you money and energy (decreased demand for treated tap water) and protects our valuable natural resources. Rain barrels divert water from storm drains, decreasing the negative impact of pollutant-laden runoff to our creeks, rivers, and the bay. For more information about reducing stormwater runoff, see CBA’s Stormwater Restoration page.
Since 2009, CBA has teamed up with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agriculture Science (IFAS) extension agents to organize rain barrel workshops for residents of Okaloosa and Walton Counties. The workshops are presented in a “make-and-take” format. IFAS extension agents conduct a short educational talk and then CBA staff and members of Okaloosa or Walton County Master Gardeners volunteer corps instruct participants to build their own rain barrels, which are constructed and taken home at the end of the workshop.
Workshop fees are $45.00, a low cost to the consumer made possible by a grant from the Boeing Corporation Community Grants Program. If you are interested in attending a workshop, check out our Events page for upcoming dates. Moreover, rain barrel art is an excellent public outreach tool. CBA sponsors and promotes rain barrel art programs in local schools. Students learn about rain barrels and the importance of water conservation, while building and decorating their own rain barrels. If you are interested in a program for your school, email CBA at email@example.com.