Galveston Bay Foundation Ambassadors share "Get Hip to Habitat" interactive environmental education message and marsh restoration program with students at Monarch

Galveston Bay Foundation Ambassadors brought their "Get Hip to Habitat" interactive environmental education message and and information about their marsh restoration program to students at Monarch.

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Galveston Bay Foundations' Bay Ambassadors -- Rachel Barski (Education Coordinator) and Rani Henderson (Manager of Education Programs) visited the Monarch School recently to educate students about the importance of protecting Galveston Bay. 

They shared their lively, hands-on presentation with student that included interactive displays, classroom demonstrations, and a fun slide show. The educational program provides students with interactive classroom lessons about Galveston Bay including: the concepts of watershed and point and non-point source pollution; salinity of an estuary and sources of its water; and functions of wetlands. 

Many of the students in the Monarch Butterfly Program know first-hand about conservation efforts to help replenish Galveston Bay marsh grass. Each year students harvest the Galveston Bay marsh grass in November, grow the marsh grass right on the Monarch campus, and then in May take a field trip to replant the marsh grass in Galveston Bay. 

“We have been participating in the Galveston Bay Foundation “Get Hip to Habitat” program for four years.  Students harvest the grasses in the fall semester and replant them in their permanent location in the spring.  While the plants are on campus, the students are learning about pH, salinity, plant health, and the importance of plants for the health of Galveston Bay, the Gulf, and us,” said Monarch Professional Educator Richard Klein.

The Galveston Bay Foundation’s program "Get Hip to Habitat" brings environmental education and marsh restoration initiatives together in one program. 

Students harvest smooth cordgrass (a native marsh grass) from a nursery in Baytown then transplant their stems into containers, and cultivate the plants in shallow, plastic pools located on the school campus. 

The pools are set up to mimic an estuarine marsh environment where these plants naturally thrive. Students carefully monitor and maintain the salinity and pH of the water in their mini-marsh nurseries for the duration of the project. After a season of growth, students transplant the matured plants at carefully selected marsh restoration sites around Galveston Bay.

"Get Hip to Habitat" has the dual benefits of introducing students to the natural resources of the Galveston Bay estuary and providing a source of native wetland plants for use in Galveston Bay wetland restoration projects. 

 “Our partnership with Galveston Bay Foundation helps fulfill our mission in project-based learning.  Students learn real-life skills, participating in real-life, community-activist science in a real-world scenario.  At the end of the year, our middle school students can look back on their work and know they have made a difference in their local community and all over the Gulf Coast,” said Monarch Professional Educator Patrick Waters.

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