Local students help to restore wetlands as contest prize

VIDEO: Local students help to restore wetlands as contest prize

Living so close to the coast, erosion is a problem that people are aware of but maybe don't think about. But a group of middle school students took time Thursday, to recognize the problem and attempt to do something about it.

Four students from Bishop Noland Episcopal Day School won a contest sponsored by the America's Wetland Foundation. The winning prize included a classroom protection project and that project started Thursday.

A day at the beach is a great excuse to get out of school for a sixth and eighth grade class, but their day away from campus and on the sandy shore line served an important purpose. They worked to restore the Louisiana coastline.

"Their spirits stayed positive," said Hillary Collis, restoration coordinator for the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana. "They were really excited about the work they were doing. And they did a really good job."

What did they do? They planted thousands of plants, Bitter Panicum, a marsh grass that even when planted in small groups will grow together.

"This will help act as a barrier when the hurricanes come," said 8th grade winner Emily Hart.

Hart along with fellow contest winner Aniese Kattash traveled just west of Holly Beach with their classmates to an area completely exposed to the tide, wind and rain.

"For every plant you put in the ground, it's got this root structure that can hold this land that we're losing in place, it can help expand that land," said Collis.

One of the main things that the students have learned in this process is that erosion is taking place every single day right here in their backyard, even if they can't see it.

"We've got to not only educate the leaders and elected officials and the adults of southwest Louisiana and around the country but we've got to educate the next generation of the country," said Buddy Boe with the America's Wetland Foundation.

The students worked hard and shared their excitement with one another.

"I feel proud of myself," said sixth grade winner Aniese Kattash. "I feel a lot of people out here are happy because we're out here."

And now the plants will begin to grow together, as a wall of protection for the shoreline.

"At the end of the day, they've truly learned a lesson and they've planted a plant that will be there for a very long time and is doing its very small part in saving the coast and there's not one big solution to our coast," said Boe.

The project will continue tomorrow as the two younger winners and their classes finish off the planting process bringing their grand total to around nine thousand plants.

Those two winners are third grader Wesley Maze and second grader Kaitlin Miller.

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