Gulf Guardian Award Winners 2004
Youth/Education Category - 1st Place
|Company:||Submitted by Crescent Soil and Water Conservation District, LA|
|Project Name:||LaBranche Wetland Watchers|
The LaBranche Wetland Watchers is a school-based service-learning project that was started in 1998 to integrate environmental issues into the curriculum. Over 3,800 fifth through seventh grade students have participated in service trips to and adopted sites near the Bonnet Carre Spillway. Students plan and participate in activities such as water quality monitoring, macro-invertebrate collection and identification, litter clean-ups, soil and plant identification, tree planting, and mapping out a public nature trail. Students have spoken to over 40,000 people across southeastern Louisiana. Through education, service, and awareness, students led a community effort for wetland conservation. The service site has exhibited some of the greatest amount of land loss along the Lake Pontchartrain shoreline. It faces development problems with a proposed airport, has huge litter and dumping problems, and suffers greatly from salt water intrusion. It is the focus of many federal and state restoration projects and refinery mitigation projects and serves as a microcosm of problems that wetlands are facing locally and globally.
The service site has exhibited some of the greatest amount of land loss
along the Lake Pontchartrain shoreline. It faces development problems
with a proposed airport, has huge litter and dumping problems, and suffers
greatly from salt water intrusion. It is the focus of many federal and
state restoration projects and refinery mitigation projects and serves
as a microcosm of problems that wetlands are facing locally and globally.
The primary objective of the LaBranche Wetland Watchers is to encourage wetland conservation through Education, Service, and Awareness.
Education: Introduce students to the many values of our local wetlands and tremendous challenges that they face.
1. This year over 1,000 students took 8 service trips between September 2003 and May 2004 to participate in hands-on activities that focus on the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of a wetland ecosystem at our adopted site in the LaBranche Wetlands near the Bonnet Carre Spillway.
2. Student’s service and experience in the wetlands are integrated into curriculum, by using it as a real-life, meaningful way to meet state academic standards.
3. Expertise of 35 Parish, Regional, State, and Federal agencies, universities, and private organizations are utilized to enhance quality environmental education opportunities for our students.
Service: Involve students in service projects that directly benefit the environment and the community in which they reside. (Community members, partners, and students have provided over 26,000 volunteer hours over the last 5 years)
1. Clean-up dumped trash and litter throughout adopted area 11 times during school year (Have collected over 800 bags of trash and truckloads of dumped junk over last 5 years)
2. Planted seven hundred trees at service site during school year. (Nearly 2000 total)
3. Collect, organize, analyze water quality data11 times during school year
4. Students work with experts from LSU’s Coastal Roots project to grow trees (400 this year, 560 last year) on school campus that are then planted in wetland areas.
5. Students are mapping out a nature trail that will eventually become the first public nature trail in our region.
Awareness: Share their knowledge and experiences with other teachers and students and the community.
1. Train teachers, locally and nationally, about how to integrate local environmental issues into their curriculum and how start/fund own projects. Students spoke to over 1500 teachers just this year.
2. Hosted International Coastal Clean-up that involved 60 students and 35 community members. Normally host a LaBranche Swamp Sweep for the community, but dates conflicted this year.
3. Worked with U.S. Corps of Engineers to host an Arbor Day community tree-planting involving 20 community members and 65 students working at 9 am on a rainy Saturday morning.
4. Hosted wetland festival for 350 5th graders (650 people total).
5. Students presented to over 15,000 people this year at LEEA Symposium, LSTA conference, Audubon Institute’s Earthfest, LSU’s Ocean Commotion Event, kindergarten science nights, and HeadStart presentations.
6. Hurst 7th graders led 300 sixth graders through activities on wetland
- Hurst only Louisiana public school recognized as Presidential National Service-Learning Leader School.
- Lieutenant Governor’s Office has chosen this project as a Louisiana Learn and Serve America Leadership Model Project 3 consecutive years.
- Project participants have been featured as one of top student environmental projects in the nation on nationally aired ABC special hosted by Diane Sawyer and appeared on internationally aired special on CNN and TBS hosted by Jane Fonda.
- Recognized with awards from Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, Louisiana Association of Conservation Districts, Louisiana Wildlife Federation, Louisiana Urban Forestry Council, and TeenInk Magazine.
- 170 students earned Presidential Volunteer Service Awards