The St. Johns Marine Ecology 4-H Club, in collaboration with the GTM Research Reserve, recently got the full salt marsh experience! The 4-H Club received a Service Learning in Aquatic and Marine Education and Conservation grant to test out the use of different substrates to use in order to grow smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) plugs. The plugs that grew from the “mother” plants would later be used for living shorelines restoration projects. The four substrates that were tested included recycled oyster shell, clay pellets, lava rock, and coconut fiber matting.

The images below show the 4-H members planting the resulting plugs at the GTM Research Reserve’s Living Shoreline Demonstration site (next to the Environmental Education Center). “This opportunity is what I truly love about my job,” said GTM Research Reserve Education Coordinator, Kenneth Rainer. “Completing the science or experimental portion of this project was one thing, but then to have it come full circle with science turning into stewardship is very inspiring. Projects like this give students the chance to connect to their community on a completely different level.” To see the project from harvest to planting check out the 4-H video.