The Meraux Foundation’s Blaise Pezold works to empower the residents of St. Bernard Parish to tackle coastal wetland loss through community built restoration projects.
Q: What is your job title and affiliation?
A: Coastal and Environmental Program Manager for the Meraux Foundation
Q: How did you get started in this field and how long you’ve been doing this type of work?
A: I have been volunteering for Coastal projects since 2006 and started managing them around 2008. In 2011, I graduated from UNO in Earth and Environmental Science (Coastal Restoration) and have been working professionally in the field since then.
Q: Describe the part of your job/role that you enjoy the most.
A: I am an “idea person.” I love to dream of how our community in St. Bernard Parish can be a better place. The Meraux Foundation, and its Docville Farm campus, gives me resources and a platform to partner with like-minded partners to move the needle in protecting and improving our ecosystems.
Q: Describe the part of your job/role that you believe is the most impactful.
A: The “Environment” and “Community Building” are two central areas where the Meraux Foundation focuses its work, and through my role, I’m able to advance both a great deal. Two of my favorite projects exemplify this best. The Chalmette High Schools 4H Black Mangrove project is very rewarding. We’ve formed a partnership with several stakeholder groups, including high school students, to collect, grow and plant Black Mangrove to increase our coastal lines of defense. To date we have planted 5,150 Black Mangroves! The other program we are super proud of is our Chandeleur Sound Living Shoreline. It also pulls together numerous partners to, not only protect our coast, but prepare our young people with technical skills that can help them enter high-wage careers. It’s a win-win!
Q: What do you think is the best/easiest way people can help restore or preserve wetlands?
A: Get your hands dirty, plant marsh grasses and trees or build a wild oyster reef.
Q: In your opinion why is coastal restoration in Louisiana important? For folks out of state, why is Louisiana’s coastal restoration work important for the nation?
A: I got involved in coastal restoration after I saw the sheer devastation of Hurricane Katrina. I was looking for answers and went back to school to find them. Around the same time, my daughter, Isabella, was born. I felt called to defend my homeland and my daughter’s right to grow up in her culture, which is tied to the land that is disappearing at an alarming rate.
As for the rest of America, why would you not want to defend your country? Louisianans have been doing that since the Battle of New Orleans in 1815!
Louisiana’s coast plays an important role in the life cycle of seafood that feeds our nation. It protects communities from hurricanes and storm surge, which can cause destruction that the federal government has to pay to repair (using American’ tax dollars!) Our coast also plays important roles in the energy all Americans depend on and the goods shipped across the country from our ports and waterways. Beyond these examples, all Americans have a responsibility to protect one of the most beautiful and vast wetland environments in the world.
Q: What is your favorite recreational activity to do in the wetlands? OR Which wetland inhabitant (bird, fish, plant, etc) do you think best represents you?
A: I am definitely a plant guy, but I am fascinated by birds and love to eat any and all seafood.