The Grand Isle School Native Plant Nursery and Biological Laboratory was established in 2009 to grow a local source of native tree seedlings to restore and maintain the island’s forest and to promote environmental stewardship of the island. We have learned that planting seedlings that are not native to the island has a high degree of failure because of the harsh conditions of the island. Locally grown and adapted plant materials are essential. The seedlings are distributed throughout the community and planted on private and public lands.
In concert with the establishment of the Native Plant Nursery, The Nature Conservancy received an EPA Environmental Education grant to develop an interactive educational program for Grand Isle students, their teachers and local community members centered on raising awareness about the environmental issues and ecological significance of the coastal barrier island, specifically the importance of planting native tree species for migratory birds and storm protection. The project focuses on bringing the local community together to work toward a unified goal of preserving and enhancing the maritime forest on the island by designing and implementing an environmental education program that complements the establishment of a community-based native plant nursery. The Grand Isle Program Manager works in the nursery with Grand Isle students on a weekly basis.
Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Grade Students of Grand Isle School, The Nature Conservancy, Barataria Terrebonne National Estuary Program staff, Town of Grand Isle elected officials and ExxonMobil staff planted live oak, hackberry and mulberry seedlings, grown by the students , on land owned by ExxonMobil on the island. This 30 acre site will once again be a protective habitat for Neo-tropical migratory song birds.
This program has “sprouted” another program, The Nature Club. Interested students from the 5th through high school at Grand Isle School meet on Thursday afternoons after school to learn more about native tree and plant identification, birds, and other wildlife of the preserve woodlands. It is an opportunity for them to start and finish nature projects that benefit their community.