GTM Research Reserve receives grant to improve estuary health


The Guana Tolomato Matanzas (GTM) Research Reserve, and four other southeastern U.S. National Estuarine Research Reserves (NERRs), were recently awarded $45,000 by the University of Michigan to create a region-wide teacher and student-driven program to further the understanding of restoring lost estuary habitats.

“This grant builds upon the success of the Spartina Transplant and Restoration (STAR) project conducted by the GTM Research Reserve and the Seeds to Shoreline (S2S) program coordinated by the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium,” said Dr. Michael Shirley, director of the GTM Research Reserve. “I’m excited that information learned on successful growing techniques for smooth cordgrass will be shared among the southeast region reserves.”

GTM Education Coordinator Kenneth Rainer will serve as lead investigator and collaborate with a team of other education coordinators from the ACE Basin National Estuarine Research Reserve in South Carolina; the North Inlet-Winyah Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve also in South Carolina; the North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve; the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve in Georgia; and the marine education specialist with the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium.

The participating teachers and students will learn hydroponic growing techniques to assist the reserves in growing smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) plugs to be used for future restoration efforts. The knowledge and experience gained by the projects conducted at GTM and participating southeastern NERRs will be used to help create an online, interactive resource center for teachers so they can integrate relevant lessons into their curriculum to support students’ education about plant growth, restoration and conservation efforts, the scientific process and data collection.

This science transfer project called “Spreading the Seeds of Estuary Health” is sponsored by the National Estuarine Research Reserve System Science Collaborative, which supports collaborative research that addresses coastal management problems. The Science Collaborative is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and managed by the University of Michigan Water Center.

For more information about this project, email Education Coordinator Kenneth Rainer at or call 904-823-4500.