The North Carolina Coastal Federation’s central region recently worked with 10 students from Keene State College. The students traveled 19 hours with heavy traffic from Keene, New Hampshire to spend the week doing service projects with our Ocean office staff.

Throughout the week, the students assisted with a variety of habitat restoration and stormwater management projects. They created and transported recycled oyster shell bags to be used in living shorelines, helped cleanup a school rain garden at Queens Creek Elementary in Swansboro and planted thousands of marsh grasses on shorelines along Bogue Sound.

“The group was so positive and fun to work with,” said Rachel Bisesi, the federation’s central region coastal education coordinator.

“They were also very hard workers and I truly enjoyed spending the week with them while working together for a healthy coast.”

While working on the rain garden at Queens Creek Elementary, the group had a spontaneous lesson on stormwater runoff with two first grade classes who saw us from outside their classroom window. Soon after, the first graders joined in and helped with the garden maintenance. Each college student teamed up with a small group of first graders to weed the school rain garden. The rain garden helps to infiltrate rainwater and serves as a living classroom for teaching about stormwater runoff solutions.

On their final day of service, they collected and stockpiled wood and other marine debris at the Rachel Carson Reserve as part of a larger cleanup effort.

“Working with the federation was an unforgettable experience. The staff at the federation, human and canine, made us feel so welcome. They educated us, walked us through their process, and answered any questions we had along the way.” said Ashley Ruston, one of the student trip leaders.

“At the end of the week, our Alternative Break team left the federation feeling accomplished, educated and sad as we had to say ‘see you later’ to new friends! They are an amazing group of genuine people who are making a real difference.”

Check out photos from the week: