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Wetlands Grow at MSI

Wetlands Grow at MSI
msi_vol2More than 100 volunteers converged upon the Marine Science Institute (MSI) on Planting Day in August to landscape the Wetlands Education Center with native marsh and sand dune flora.

Participants included representatives from environmental, governmental and research entities, local, state and national officials, as well as teachers, students and families from the nearby communities of Corpus Christi, Port Aransas and Rockport.

“It was just great to see the young kids out there knee-deep in the water planting plants,” said Rick Tinnin, education coordinator for the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve and director of the Marine Education Services Program at MSI.

Species populating the one-acre site now include cordgrasses in the high marsh, salt-tolerant halophytes like camphor daisy and sea lavender in the mid-marsh, and tidal plants like mangrove trees and sea grasses closest to and in the water.

“The next stage is building educational infrastructure,” Tinnin said. “That’s going to consist of perimeter pathways and boardwalks around the outside of the marsh, with shaded overlooks, an amphitheater, and a lot of education signage.”

The official opening of the teaching marsh is slated for May. Curricula for kindergartners through 12th graders will be made available to teachers, who can demonstrate lessons in science class with a field trip to the center.

Tinnin said, “A few hours visit to the marsh hopefully will last about a week in the classroom.”

msi_vol1Wetlands visitors will not just be learning – they’ll be doing real science, too. Researchers have begun monitoring plant growth in the newly created wetlands, in order to compare and contrast observations with plant growth in natural wetlands surrounding the institute.

“We’ll train teachers to teach kids to collect data for us,” Tinnin said. “They’ll contribute to our long-term study.”

Written by Patrick Brendel
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Comments 1

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