To engage area youth in oyster restoration, CBA offers a hands-on, place-based aquaculture program known as Spat On! to area high school students. The initiative provides students with several hands-on activities and lessons that foster their understanding of oyster ecology and the estuarine habitat.
Spat On! encompasses both field experiences and in-class assignments. To introduce the students to oyster restoration, students help construct an oyster reef by bagging recycled oyster shell and placing the material. They monitor growing oysters using various aquaculture techniques, including GoPro Cameras and iPad minis, to analyze spat attachment and water regulation. Towards the end of the year, students move their matured oysters from the cultivation areas to a reef during a Move Your Mollusk event. Finally, during classroom activities, participants use the cameras and tablets to analyze water quality data recorded by Choctawhatchee Oyster Gardening volunteers, interpret oyster monitoring data collected by CBA, and create the educational signage that will be placed at the two oyster reef sites.