"Get Hip to Habitat" is a program of the Galveston Bay Foundation (GBF) that brings our education and marsh restoration initiatives together in one program. With this program, GBF works closely with students and teachers to establish a salt marsh wetland nursery on their school campus grounds and later transplant their established grasses to Galveston Bay wetlands.
Students harvest smooth cordgrass (a native estuarine marsh grass) from the NRG EcoCenter nursery in Baytown, transplant their stems into containers, and cultivate the plants in shallow, plastic pools located on their school campuses. The pools are set up to mimic an estuarine marsh environment where these plants naturally thrive. Students carefully monitor and maintain the salinity and pH of the water in their mini-marsh nurseries for the duration of the project. After a season of growth, students transplant the matured plants at carefully selected marsh restoration sites around Galveston Bay.
"Get Hip to Habitat" has the dual benefits of introducing students to the natural resources of the Galveston Bay estuary and providing a source of native wetland plants for use in Galveston Bay wetland restoration projects. The program provides students with interactive classroom lessons about Galveston Bay including: the concepts of watershed and point and non-point source pollution; salinity of an estuary and sources of its water; and functions of wetlands. The program also offers a slideshow presentation depicting the uses and abuses of Galveston Bay and some of the animals that depend on it for survival.
Participation in this program provides students with valuable hands-on science education at their schools as well as in the field, and exposes them to the value of a healthy Galveston Bay. The program not only teaches students about the Galveston Bay watershed, but it also teaches them about stewardship of Galveston Bay and imparts a sense of ownership and responsibility to their marsh grass project.
The Galveston Bay system is Texas' largest estuary and leading commercial and recreational coastal fishery. Much of the 230-mile shoreline has suffered from erosion and subsidence. Nearly 35,000 acres of coastal wetlands were lost to these forces over 50 years. Wetlands serve many valuable functions to both people and wildlife, including providing food and shelter to young fish, shellfish, and bird species; protecting shorelines from erosion; absorbing excess rain and storm surge; filtering runoff and providing a 'sink' for toxins; and serving as a source of public recreation and education. To mitigate these losses and restore these functions, GBF's restoration program focuses on restoring marsh habitat all around Galveston Bay. The "Get Hip to Habitat" program has played a significant role in these efforts by involving participating schools in transplanting their matured marsh plants to selected marsh restoration sites around Galveston Bay. Planting sites have ranged from federal lands of the National Refuge System to privately owned residential shorelines.