Students from Our Lady of Mercy School traveled to Fontainebleau State Park in Mandeville Nov. 13 to participate in a coastal restoration planting with the LSU Coastal Roots Program.

The students had been growing tupelo gum trees in their school’s yard under the guidance of LSU School of Education and School of Plant, Environmental and Soil Sciences faculty.

The students transplanted the seedlings to the new site to provide food and habitat for the area’s animals, as well as to provide a way to stabilize the soil there. Native plants grown by the students in their school-based nurseries are chosen by the restoration site manager based on a particular location’s needs.

“The Coastal Roots program allows my students to be active participants in maintaining and restoring our environment. It allows them to begin the path of becoming scientifically literate and environmentally responsible citizens of our Earth,” said Nessie Galliano, a teacher at Our Lady of Mercy.

“Students participating in the LSU Coastal Roots Program are learning to be stewards of our natural resources,” said LSU Coastal Roots Co-director Pam Blanchard, associate professor in the College of Human Sciences and Education. “This means both educating ourselves about critical issues so we can make good decisions for our families and taking action to nurture the environment that nurtures us.”

The LSU Coastal Roots Program is an initiative of the LSU College of Human Sciences and Education and the College of Agriculture. The program now includes about 45 schools in 19 parishes throughout southern Louisiana and one school in Chile. Since the plantings began in 2001, 13,092 students in grades two through 12 have transplanted 109,470 school-grown restoration plants on 266 restoration trips across south Louisiana.