Planting for Protection with Fabien Cousteau and the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station

Amanda Post

A Day for the Dunes

On September 28th, a group of roughly 500 community members and volunteers came together to plant sea oats on a vulnerable section of Navarre Beach dunes. Over time, the public had cleared a foot pathway to the beach, and we were given the opportunity to plant over this trail and on the landward side of the dunes. In partnership with the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station and the Fabien Cousteau Ocean Learning Center, we organized A Day for the Dunes an educational event about the importance of protecting our coastal ecosystems.

In addition to sea oats planting, the event had educational stations hosted by local organizations and schools. Gulf Breeze High School, Navarre Beach Lifeguards, Navarre Beach Fire Rescue, UP Divers, Pensacola Beach Elementary School and the Rotary Club of Navarre each directed a station and offered interactive activities to teach the public about the coastal ecosystem. Attendees who registered were given the opportunity to participate in Planting for Protection and help us install sea oats. Together with the outstanding students from the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station we taught the public how to plant sea oats and installed a grand total of 1,350 sea oats in a two-hour time span.

What is Planting for Protection?

Planting for Protection is our hands-on educational initiative designed to teach kids (and the general public) about the importance of coastal resiliency. Native sea oats are planted by participants under the guidance of mentors trained by Dune Doctors. For each event, we collaborate with teens who are passionate about the environment and show them how to install sea oats. The teens we train then mentor the little ones, and we observe a double positive. The kids get to plant sea oats on the dunes and by doing so take ownership of an environment they were not previously that aware of or familiar with. On the other hand, we have young adult mentors who are given a platform to share their passion for the environment with a young audience that embraces what they have to say. Everyone walks away feeling proud of their accomplishments and energized to educate loved ones and friends that could not attend.

Special Words from Fabien Cousteau

Fabien Cousteau, famed oceanographic explorer and conservationist, made a special appearance at this past event. Fabien has dedicated his career to educating society on the importance of protecting our oceans and is currently working to expand his educational non-profit the Fabien Cousteau Ocean Learning Center. The first grandson of Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Fabien embarked on an underwater expedition that lasted 31 days and live-broadcasted the journey for the whole world to see. As beaches are often the connection between ocean and land, protecting the health of our coastal ecosystems is vital to minimizing the amount of trash and debris that ends up in the water. Fabien urges everyone to pick-up trash left behind on the beaches and to embrace environmentally-conscious lifestyle changes such as avoiding single-use plastic.

Fabien Cousteau teaching a child how to plant a sea oat

    “A Day for the Dunes is extraordinarily important for many reasons, its a sense of community. Its a sense of empowerment. Its a sense of doing good for our aquatic life the ecosystem that supports all life on this planet. It’s very important for kids to be empowered to make change happen and to make sure that their parents and their communities are helping them make that change.” 

Fabien Cousteau 

Our goal is to educate the next generation of coastal stewards who are joining in the fight in protecting our coastlines from erosion. We look forward to a new year full of Planting for Protection events. If you would like to implement a similar event with your community, email us at info(@) or call us at 866-386-3737.

“When you give a child a plant to put in the ground you give them ownership of a portion of that dune. After planting, they will be much more considerate of that environment once they hold a stake in it.” 

Frederique Beroset, MBA & M.S. Biology 

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