Dozens of Kindergarteners…and first-graders and second-graders, in fact the entire student body — Upper and Lower School — spent a portion of their day on September 8 getting muddy planting hundreds of plugs of salt marsh grass in the school’s nursery, which sits just outside of Sari Deitche’s biology classroom. For many, it was the first time hearing about erosion, water quality, and even the word “salt marsh,” as students, both old and young, and from all over the globe, worked together as part of the Tampa Bay Watch Bay Grasses in Classes program.
“This is my favorite day,” said Mrs. Deitche, who has been overseeing the Farragut portion of the program since it began 16 years ago. “It totally re-energizes me. To see the kids learn and then come to fully understand the entire process of the program is special. To see the older students guide the younger students and do what they had started is incredible.”
For Evan Schlifstein ‘19, who has been attending Farragut since the fourth grade, he appreciates having been a part of the program in its infancy. More so, though, he relishes being able to give back the type of knowledge he acquired when he was younger. “It’s really cool to see all the little kids doing all the same things we did,” said Evan, who was one of Mrs. Deitche’s Advanced Placement Biology students serving as a mentor.
“You definitely learn a lot about leadership when you’re in this type of role, helping the kids understand the top and bottom side of the plants, instructing them on how to plant them, and how important it is to the ecosystems. As someone who is young, you don’t really appreciate it unless you’re involved in something hands-on like this. It’s extremely valuable.”
Tampa Bay Watch has been running the Bay Grasses in Classes program since 1993. Schools across Hillsborough and Pinellas counties put in countless volunteer hours each year to help restore Tampa Bay to its former glory.