By Thomas Schenck, First Year Student, and Janet Hrezo, Brevard Staff
Students and staff at the Brevard Center were surrounded by buckets of oyster shells, but nobody had a seafood dinner. As part of a community service project for The Nature Conservancy, they were making oyster mats to help restore oyster reef habitat in the Mosquito Lagoon, which is located off the Brevard County coast.
Mats are created by attaching oyster shells to an environmentally safe mesh mat with plastic zip ties. The shells, donated by local restaurants, are pre-drilled with a small hole, tied upright and randomly spread across the mat. Finished mats are anchored in the lagoon. Larvae then attach themselves to the mats and, as they grow, create clusters and then reefs. These reefs filter water and provide habitat for other species.
We really enjoyed making the mats and doing our part to make the earth a greener place. It was also a great way to learn more about our local natural resources and to spend time with each other. Ask any of the students at the Brevard Center and they will tell you that volunteering will make you feel like you’ve made a difference and, more importantly, that we can do anything if we try.