NYC students make ‘shore’ Coney Island is safe from storms by planting grasses

Students from three schools participated in a program to create ‘living shorelines’ along the coast to protect communities from storm surge and flooding

May 30, 2023
Framed by a clear blue sky, a woman plants dune grass on a beach in New York City.
Students helped plant hundreds of American beach grass stalks at Coney Island Creek Park to help stabilize dunes. [Credit: Marlowe Starling]

Middle and high school students from three schools arrived at Coney Island Creek Park on Tuesday, March 21 for a special type of field trip. Through a collaboration among NYC Parks, the American Littoral Society and a National Wildlife Federation program called the Resilient Schools Consortium, students are learning how natural features dubbed “green infrastructure” can help protect seaside communities from the type of storm surge and flooding Superstorm Sandy wrought on Coney Island in 2012. 

It’s all part of a larger initiative to create “living shorelines”: coasts that are made more resilient through green infrastructure, like dunegrasses, rather than gray infrastructure, like concrete seawalls. The students in this video participated in one of several days of planting American beach grass along the dunes in Coney Island Creek Park in what has become an annual effort to teach students about climate change resiliency, environmental justice and environmental stewardship.

About the Author

Marlowe Starling

Marlowe grew up in Miami writing short stories about plants and animals, a precursor to her passion for environmental journalism. She combined her interests in science and storytelling at the University of Florida with a journalism degree and wildlife ecology minor. A study abroad trip to Tanzania cemented her desire to tell stories about people and their environments around the world. When she isn’t meandering through bookstores, Marlowe enjoys kayaking through Florida’s mangroves, watching college football and talking about Star Wars.


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