By Lauren Pastrana

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Tiny red mangrove seedlings are being planted with care at Richardson Historic Park & Nature Preserve in Wilton Manors by a group of volunteers called MangroLife.

At the volunteers’ recent event, they also cleaned up trash at the Broward park.

READ MORE: Business Owners In South Florida Say They're Struggling To Get Employees Back To Work

Jessica Basi explained how her son, Jonah, started this project.

“After we moved to the water, we started cleaning up the canals because we started noticing just how dirty they were,” she said.

What started as a fun way of hanging out outside became a mission.

“We paddleboard a lot on the canals. When we’re out there, we noticed two things, trash and floating mangrove propagules. So this whole project is a combination of both of these discoveries. We do a lot of trash cleanups and collect the propagules and we grow them,” said Jonah Basi.

Basi added they have collected almost 800 pounds of trash since October of 2020.

One good thing that came from the pandemic are kids like Jonah, a St. Thomas Aquinas High School junior, coming up with a way to get much-needed service hours, while also doing something outdoors and purposeful.

READ MORE: ‘Pretty Big Pay Package’: Broward School Board Negotiates $743K Exit Deal For Embattled Supt. Robert Runcie

The cleanup led organically to a gathering of the seedlings and then planting them at the park.

“The propagules will grow in anything. They grow in pots and tanks and stuff like that. Since we had 20 growing, we came out here to plant them. A wonderful community member brought a really huge one too,” said Jonah.

The mangroves are true Florida natives and they perform important roles.

“They’re amazing, amazing plants,” said his mother Jessica. “They clean the nutrients out of the water and they provide habitats for fish and all types of aquatic life. We just absolutely love them, they’re fantastic.”

“When they get big enough, the roots are habitat. When you have enough of them, then they can protect against hurricane force waves. They can do a whole lot of good,” Jonah explained.

Jonah is on a path to a career in environmental advocacy. He was the founder of a Surfrider Club in elementary school and is planning to study political science.

MORE NEWS: Pembroke Pines PD: 15-Year-Old Bicyclist Killed After Being Dragged Under Minivan For 30 Feet

“I want to be able to come back to the state, you know, I want to go to college here. I want to hopefully live here, I love the warmth and I want to make it as nice as it can be,” he said.

Lauren Pastrana