2010-2011 School Year
Before 2011, CBA implemented a minimal Grasses in Classes Program (GIC) in only three schools. The programs consisted of an initial lesson, in which students established their salt marsh nurseries, and possibly a field trip to plant their grasses along the shoreline of the Choctawhatchee Bay. Throughout the year, students maintained the salinity levels of their nurseries with no consistent guidance from CBA. Additional lessons and supplemental activities were administered by the science teacher if he or she wished to connect the program to their classroom studies.
2011-2012 School Year
The growth and expansion of the Grasses in Classes Program relied heavily on the partnership developed with AmeriCorps, a service group that addresses critical community needs in education and the environment. Through this synergy, an education team formed, which met the needs and goals of both organizations. The relationship garnered enough manpower to provide monthly lessons to over 800 students in the Okaloosa County School District. Through the AmeriCorps partnership, a refined, fully developed education project arose that provide students throughout the watershed with an interactive program directed at expanding their interest of science.
2012-2013 School Year
With the start of the 2012-2013 school year, community partners continued to support the Grasses in Classes program. GIC now reached 1600 students in Okaloosa and Walton Counties. Through the expansion, a need for a third grade curriculum arose, allowing CBA to diversify education efforts throughout the watershed. As with the previous year, an AmeriCorps education team led monthly lessons to both third and fifth graders. In 2011, CBA noticed a need for teacher workshops to educate educators on the watershed and topics being delivered by the GIC program. At the start of the school year, a small workshop was held for the science chairs at every school in Okaloosa County. The workshop focused on teaching attendees about the Choctawhatchee Bay watershed, as well as providing additional activities teachers could replicate in their own classroom that meet the benchmarks set forth by the state of Florida.
2013-2014 School Year
The 2013-2014 school year was a benchmark year for CBA’s GIC Program. The expansion of the program allowed for 18 elementary schools in Okaloosa and Walton Counties to participate in our environmental education curriculum. Nine schools participated in the 5th grade curriculum, with an additional nine schools in the 3rd grade curriculum, reaching a total of 2,000 students monthly. All seven of the elementary schools in Walton County received the 3rd grade curriculum! These young stewards planted 9,000 in 54 salt marsh nurseries, which were used to restore degraded shorelines in the Choctawhatchee Bay.
To better align our GIC curriculum with the new Common Core Standards being implemented across the state of Florida, CBA developed a new partnership with Northwest Florida State College’s Teacher Education Program. Working together, CBA and NWFSC developed a library of English and Language Arts resources that teachers can use to enhance the GIC program within their classrooms.
2014-2015 School Year
In the 5th year of the Grasses In Classes program, CBA implemented environmental education at 20 of the 28 elementary schools in Okaloosa and Walton Counties, reaching over 2,100 students in 101 classrooms monthly. The GIC 3rd grade curriculum was taught to 900 students while the 5th grade curriculum reached 1,200 students.