4-H Marine Ecology Club awarded Guy Harvey Mini-Grant

Funds will be used to combat erosion in local marshes


The GTM Research Reserve/St. Johns County 4-H Marine Ecology Club received a $300 Service Learning in Aquatic and Marine Education and Conservation mini-grant, funded by the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation through the University of Florida/IFAS Extension 4-H Youth Development Program. These mini-grants benefit 4-H club youth, local communities and the environment.

“The 4-H Marine Ecology Club continues to be one of the reserve’s favorite success stories,” said Michael Shirley, director of the GTM Research Reserve. “The hard work and dedication of the teams and volunteers who work with them is truly impressive.”

This 4-H community service learning project will help determine which substrate (the base on which an organism lives) can best support Spartina alterniflora plugs by using hydroponics to grow it at the GTM Research Reserve Education Center. In studying the shoreline erosion, the club decided this would be the most beneficial short-term project. They will test various substrates to uncover the best for growing Spartina so that it can be grown most efficiently in an artificial environment.

“Through this project, we hope to grow Spartina so that we can help to restore shorelines that have been damaged by erosion,” said Nick Wiswedel, 4-H club member who is leading the project. “This information can then be passed on to others for their erosion issues.”

Thanks to the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, mini-grants up to $300 from the Florida 4-H headquarters, are available to county 4-H clubs to support community service learning projects related to marine and aquatic education and conservation. Florida 4-H is the youth development program of Florida Cooperative Extension, a part of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Services (IFAS). The 4-H is the nation’s largest youth development organization with over 230,000 members in the state of Florida and more than 6.5 million young people across the nation.

For more information about St. Johns County 4-H, visit http://stjohns.ifas.ufl.edu/4-H.shtml.

The GTM Research Reserve is one of 28 National Estuarine Research Reserves across the nation focused on researching, educating and protecting the natural biodiversity and cultural resources within the estuary. It is managed by Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Coastal Office, in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The Environmental Education Center is located at 505 Guana River Road, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, 32082. For more information about the GTM Research Reserve, call (904) 823-4500 or visit www.gtmnerr.org.