Students from St. Joseph’s Academy traveled Jan. 19 to Fontainebleau State Park to participate in coastal restoration planting with the LSU Coastal Roots Program.

Having grown bald cypress and catalpa 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 site’s animals, as well as to provide a way to stabilize the soil there, a news release said.

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 LSU Coastal Roots Program provides an active learning situation in which students can explore strategies for sustaining coastal ecosystems and develop an attitude of stewardship toward natural resources, the release said.

The program does this through conducting an on-going school-based nursery program growing native plants and involving students in a hands-on habitat restoration planting. In addition, the program provides teachers and students with information on issues such as ecological stewardship, wetlands functions and values, wetland loss, habitat restoration and conservation, and basic geoscience and horticultural skills.

“Students participating in the LSU Coastal Roots Program are learning to be stewards of our natural resources. 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,” said LSU Coastal Roots Co-director Pam Blanchard, associate professor in the College of Human Sciences and Education.

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

“As a college in the state’s flagship university, that mission also means being good stewards of one of our most precious and valued resources — our coast. Coastal Roots is an exceptional and enduring program that is affecting real change in our state while preparing our students to be active and engaged citizens and professionals,” said Damon Andrew, dean of the College of Human Sciences and Education.