Dominique Seibert is a Marine Extension Agent with Louisiana Sea Grant who values community involvement and collaboration with other wetlands protection organizations.
Q: What is your job title and affiliation?
A: Marine Extension Agent, Louisiana Sea Grant & LSU AgCenter
Q: How did you get started in this field and how long have you been doing this type of work?
A: I’ve always had a love for the outdoors and can remember wanting to work on restoring our coast at a very young age. I participated in a number of vegetative planting projects during my years in 4-H and even participated in Louisiana Sea Grant’s Marsh Maneuvers program in high school.
After college, my introduction into this field was working as the Species Specialist for the Biological Assessment of the USCG’s response efforts on the BP Oil Spill. After a few years, I moved on to working as a marine biologist for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and then landed at Louisiana Sea Grant.
I’ve been in this field for ten years.
Q: Describe the part of your job/role that you enjoy the most.
A: The part of my job that I enjoy the most is designing programs that align with the needs of the community. I enjoy listening to our local stakeholders, working with different agencies, and collaborating with researchers to design and implement programs that are needed in our communities. Rather its information on storm recovery, keeping commercial fishermen informed of regulation changes in their industry, or creating opportunities for community members to plant vegetation to help combat erosion, these programs have a direct effect on the communities.
Q: Describe the part of your job/role that you believe is the most impactful.
A: The part of my job that I believe is the most impactful is working with youth. Within this job, I have the opportunity to work with children of all ages. I get to teach elementary school students about crawfish and rice farming at AgMagic on the River. During the fall, we host fishing clinics for middle school children. And each summer, high schoolers attend my Marsh Dawgs camp where they learn about local ecosystems, coastal restoration, data collection, GPS mapping, and water quality testing as well as getting to experience kayaking, fishing, and other outdoor activities. It’s really rewarding to watch kids get energized and inspired while they learn about local industries, culture, and coastal issues that directly impact their communities. Hopefully, this will motivate someone to pursue a science career and one day, generate new ideas to help restore our coast.
Q: What do you think is the best/easiest way people can help restore or preserve wetlands?
A: The easiest way to help preserve our wetlands is to reduce the amount of marine debris. Simply picking up after yourself and picking up debris you may come across as you experience our wetlands can be quite impactful to the habitat and the species that live there.
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: Louisiana’s wetlands represent about 40% of the wetlands in the continental U.S. but represents about 80% of total wetland loss. We are losing our wetlands at an incredible rate. Our wetlands provide many ecosystem services such as a nursery for important species, filter and purify water, provide storm protection, and are a vital component of our commercial fishing industry. Also, a number of other industries such as recreation and tourism; oil and gas; and trade and commerce, all rely on Louisiana’s wetlands. Our coast is also home to approximately two million people, including a number of indigenous tribes. Restoring our coast ensures our wetlands continue to provide these vital services as well as protect the people that live there.
Louisiana’s coastal restoration work is important for the nation because our wetlands provide large economic benefits. Louisiana is the largest producer of seafood in the lower 48 states. We are known as “Sportsman Paradise” attracting visitors from all over the world to experience the fish and wildlife our wetlands have to offer. And Louisiana’s coast has an extremely large impact on the nation’s oil and gas industry as well as the water-borne commerce industry. So, it’s very important to preserve our wetlands for the benefit of our state, and our nation.
Q: What is your favorite recreational activity to do in the wetlands?
A: I love fishing. I’ve been fishing since I was old enough to hold a fishing pole and I got my first tackle box from my Paw-Paw when I was six. Its so beautiful and peaceful, punctuated by glorious moments when something hits your bait and you reel in a fish.