Coed, independent, PK3-12th grade school in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Welcome to our Native Classroom!
by Kathryn Jeakle, Eighth grade science teacher
Eighth grader Walker Willis '19 started out the school year with the idea of trying to eliminate non-native Australian Pines that line the 54th Ave North channel on the north side of campus. After inventing a way to eliminate them (and winning some science awards along the way), he decided to eliminate a 150ft stretch of the invasive pines from the back of Shorecrest's campus, north of Haskell Field. This space is used by eighth graders during their water ecology testing.
Walker then created a plan to replant native species as part of his Boy Scouts of America Eagle Project. After contacting Tampa Bay Watch, SWFWMD, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Boy Scouts of America (BSA), and several professional landscapers, his Eagle Project was approved to start!
His project has removed a total of over 100,000 lbs (by trailer weight) of non-native Australian Pines (approximately 2000 trees!) After stump grinding and root removal, 10 dump trucks of top soil have been placed on the land, giving room for over 500 native plants to root and grow for years to come. These plants grow fast roots, which will help hold in the coastline.
In addition to the removal of the invasive species and restoration of the ecosystem, Walker included a newly built research platform that will be used by students to complete water quality testing at the channel. The platform is accessible by a 200 ft shell path which will make walking back to the channel easier and more accessible to all. There are also two newly added freshwater sources for cleaning equipment, one at each end of the Native Classroom.
Well over 15 adults and 25 students helped complete this project. Eighth graders will assist again this week by planting native cord grass.
The channel has been transformed! This will be an amazing location from which every student at Shorecrest will benefit. Thank you to everyone who volunteered to help create our outdoor Native Classroom!