Alabama’s Baldwin County Grasses in Classes Program
The Grasses in Classes program is one of the “Climate Steward” examples provided in the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s Climate Change, Wildlife, and Wildlands Toolkit for Formal and Informal Educators. Students cultivated and planted native grasses at restoration sites along Alabama’s Gulf of Mexico coast. This pilot project has also been instituted in classrooms in Tampa Bay (Florida) and Chesapeake Bay (Maryland).
Storms, such as Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina in 2004 and 2005, respectively, have degraded habitats along the Gulf Coast of the United States and damaged dunes and salt marshes in coastal Alabama. These habitats have also been destroyed by development. Native grasses provide shoreline stabilization and habitat for wildlife; without this vegetation, coastal areas are much more susceptible to increased coastal storms and sea level rise. This project is one of the case studies in the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s Climate Change, Wildlife, and Wildlands Toolkit for Formal and Informal Educators, developed to aid educators in communicating how climate change will affect the environment and how people can become “climate stewards.” The Baldwin County Grasses in Classes (BCGIC) program, created in 2005, utilized students (with guidance from teachers and experts) to grow native plants for wetland and dune restoration projects. In addition, the students helped to maintain and monitor native plant nurseries, and assisted scientists with monitoring at restoration sites when possible.
Funding for this program was provided by the Gulf of Mexico Community-based Restoration Partnership. Students planted bitter panic grass (Panicum amarum), sea oats (Uniola paniculata), and saltwater cordgrass (Spartina patens) at the Bon Secour Wildlife Refuge, and removed the invasive common reed (Phragmites) and replanted grasses black needle rush (Juncus romerianus) and smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) at the Weeks Bay NERR.
Outcomes and Conclusions
Funding for this project expired in 2006. This program has been adapted to other programs in Florida and Maryland.
Gregg, R. M. (2010). Alabama's Baldwin County Grasses in Classes Program [Case study on a project of Baldwin County Public Schools]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE: http://www.cakex.org/case-studies/alabama’s-baldwin-county-grasses-classes-program (Last updated March 2010)