Some of South Mississippi's tiniest creatures are getting a lot of help surviving in the wild. Sixth graders at one Pascagoula school are working on a project to monitor and protect a bayou that's right in their own backyard.
Just a few blocks from Trent Lott Academy is Grant Bayou, a vital habitat for baby shrimp, crabs, and fish.
"This is the nursery of the world. This is where our food starts. This is probably the most important wetlands ecosystem that there is," said Michael Henderson, Mississippi Power Maintenance Specialist.
Twice a year, the sixth graders at the school walk over to the bayou to track the health of the fragile watershed.
"This is our backyard. I don't want a dump in my backyard. The only way it's going to be cleaned up, the only way it's going to be maintained in a good healthy way, is if we do it," said Henderson.
With guidance from environmental and compliance specialists at Mississippi Power, the students waded in the water to collect samples. They measured the water's pH and dissolved oxygen levels. They also tested to see if the water was clear and recorded its temperature.
"This is actually good useful data, and it teaches them the basics of the importance of math, science, and environmental stewardship," said Henderson.
The school has been keeping a close watch over Grant Bayou since 2002.
"To help save the fish and keep them alive," said sixth grader Anna Barlow.
"For the environment and help the world be clean," said sixth grader Geo Garnica.
Some students have taken a personal role in this project.
"I usually come out here and help clean up this area back here, because there's a bunch of debris. And I like to feed the fish and the pelicans," said sixth grader Aston Smith.
They are learning early to take responsibility in protecting their backyard bayou.
"This is a healthy water system. It may not be the prettiest in the world, but it is healthy. Our monitoring will help us make sure that it stays that way," said Henderson.
The project is part of "World Water Monitoring Day". The data collected will be entered into a national database. The students will use the information to track any changes to the bayou's health over the years.
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