Fostering a Passion for the Environment through the St. Andrew Bay Grasses in Classes Program
St. Andrew Bay Watch has a goal to cultivate a love of nature and the environment among Bay County’s younger generation. They offer students high-quality, immersive watershed experiences that are integrated into monthly classroom learning activities and field trips. The organization’s St. Andrew Bay Grasses in Classes (GIC) Program, which began in 2014, establishes a connection between students and the St. Andrew Bay watershed, giving them a deeper understanding of the various ecosystems and fostering their sense of community.
The GIC Program: Hands-On Learning for Students and Teachers in Bay County, Florida
The Gulf of Mexico Priorities are at the heart of the GIC program, which engages with students in grades 5-12 in Bay County, Florida. Students from Deane Bozeman School and North Bay Haven Charter Academy participate in this multifaceted, hands-on learning program. Each year, the program reaches around 400 students and 4 teachers.
The GIC program prioritizes the following Gulf of Mexico initiatives:
- Wetland and coastal conservation and restoration
- Water quality for shellfish beds
- Environmental education
- Reducing nutrient inputs into coastal ecosystems
- Coastal community resiliency
The end of year restoration project is a highlight, and each year it focuses on “Stemming the Tides” along St. Andrew Bay. The GIC program creates student-centered environmental learning experiences that increase environmental awareness and encourages behavior change. To support the program, volunteers are trained and enlisted to assist with the implementation of monthly programs. Teachers can access program materials via an online portal, which increases their capacity for watershed learning in the classroom. The GIC program is an exciting opportunity for the next generation of watershed stewards to create a more sustainable future.
Special THANK YOU to Tyndall Federal Credit Union and their Tyndall Cares grant to help support our GIC program, the St. Joe Community Foundation for their generous grant, and the Nextera Energy Foundation donation.
John Ackerman retired University of Florida Instructor and Bay Watch Volunteer teaches GIC students from Patronis Elementary School about aquatic species during a living shoreline restoration project.
For more information or to volunteer, contact us: call 850.763.4303 or email Program Director, Christina Cantrell