GULF SHORES, Ala. (WKRG) — Around 200 elementary and high school students from Gulf Shores schools headed to the beach Wednesday to do their part to help the environment and protect the beaches by planting native dune building vegetation near the Gulf State Park Pavillion.

The sea oats and other native vegetation protect against coastal erosion during extreme weather events. That same extreme weather can also damage the dune system.

Gulf Shores High School senior Mia Jones served as a mentor to younger students and says this is a lesson everyone can learn from.

“These dunes are super important so when we have storms it protects us and taking care of our environment is so important. Important to take care of it so it can take care of us,” said Jones.

Sand dunes are the first line of defense from storm surge, senior Sterling Lee said that’s why they are so important.

“There are a lot of different plants that I never really thought about that are on dunes,” said Lee. “It’s kind of crazy. You just kind of see it there and you’re just like oh kind of weird grass is there but there is a lot more too it than that.”