4-H Team shines at Marine Ecology Event

GTM Research Reserve mentors students on marine and coastal plants, animals and habitats


The GTM  Research Reserve/St. Johns County 4-H Marine Ecology Club earned first and third place team awards at the statewide Marine Ecology Event recently held in Kissimmee, Fla. Some club members also placed first and second in individual competitions.

“The 4-H Marine Ecology Club continues to be one of our mentoring success stories,” said Michael Shirley, director of the GTM Research Reserve. “The volunteer leaders and the 4-H teams are very dedicated and enjoyed great success at the recent statewide competition.”

Sponsored by the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, the competition was divided into five sections: marine and coastal plant identification; marine invertebrate animal identification; marine vertebrate animal identification; natural history scavenger hunt; and knowledge of marine habitats, concepts and issues.

During the awards ceremony, it was announced that the St. Johns County 4-H team received a $300 Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation grant through the University of Florida/IFAS Extension 4-H Youth Development Program to study Estuary Restoration through Hydroponically Grown Spartina alterniflora.” The club will be working with Kenneth Rainer, GTM Research Reserve education coordinator, to grow Spartina alterniflora (smooth cordgrass) hydroponically on different substrates and to plant in an area where there has been erosion. GTM Research Reserve volunteers will serve as 4-H leaders in this joint educational effort. 

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 Rd. in Ponte Vedra. For more information about the GTM Research Reserve, call (904) 823-4500 or visit www.gtmnerr.org.