The Louisiana Sea Grant College Program hosted its annual educational, coastal-based event, Ocean Commotion, on October 27 at the LSU Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, La. The primary purpose of Ocean Commotion is to give students the chance to learn about and touch the products of the sea and coast—the aquatic animals, plants, and minerals—upon which Louisiana’s citizens are so dependent. In attendance were 2,138 K-8 students, 121 teachers and 139 chaperons from East Baton Rouge, Iberville, Jefferson, East Feliciana, and Assumption parishes.
The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act encourages the connection between students and the coast by providing the opportunity to become “hands-on” with activities that foster interests in and curiosity for Louisiana’s passive shoreline environments. Among the 70 exhibits from universities, non-profits, state and local governments, student clubs, science and museum centers and K-12 student exhibitors was the CWPPRA Mysterious Wetland Wonders activity. Participants were encouraged to reach inside the seven mystery boxes, read clues, and try to identify the wetland item hidden inside each box without peeking! The mystery items included a seashell, apple snail shell, oyster shell, cypress knee, Spanish moss, nutria pelt, and a magnolia seed pod. In order for future generations to effectively protect our oceans, coastlines, and wetlands, learning about the importance and benefits of each is essential.
On September 24th, nearly 1,000 Girl Scouts, their leaders and parents congregated at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, La. to participate in the Believe In Girls (B.I.G.) event-the annual gathering of girl scouts from the 23 southeast Louisiana parishes to celebrate the beginning of a new scouting year.
The event offered a day of hands-on activities and presentations showcasing organizations which foster and encourage Girl Scout involvement and education, focusing on Girl Scout Initiatives such as STEM, healthy living, financial literacy and outdoor legacy. Keynote speaker, Representative Helena Moreno of Louisiana’s 93rd District encouraged the girls to seek their own identity and take pride in being a girl. Participants were encouraged to find exhibits displaying topics of interests according to each girls’ likes for a wider range of learning experiences.
The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act’s Public Outreach staff engaged the science interests of many participants by testing their coastal landscape, wildlife, and plant knowledge through CWPPRA’s Wetland Jeopardy and Wetland Animal Tracks games. Both games connect the importance of science to the significance of coastal protection and conservation. In addition to games, CWPPRA also provided Henri Heron’s Louisiana Wetlands activity book, stickers, wetland hero coloring sheets, and a variety of different CWPPRA publications.
The State of the Coast conference took place June 1-3rd in New Orleans, LA. The State of the Coast conference is an interdisciplinary forum to exchange timely and relevant information on the dynamic conditions of Louisiana’s coastal communities, environment, and economy and to apply that information to existing and future coastal restoration and protection efforts, policies, and decision-making. The conference is hosted by the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana in partnership with the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and The Water Institute of the Gulf. CWPPRA is a sponsor of State of the Coast.
Kimberly Davis Reyher, Executive Director of the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, began the conference with a brief welcome and an introduction of the welcome address speaker, Johnny Bradberry, Executive Assistant to the Governor for Coastal Affairs and CPRA Chairman. The welcome was followed by a keynote address by Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards. During his speech, Governor Edwards stated, “Coastal dollars are going to be used for coastal issues. We are ready for more, bigger, and better projects. I did not become governor to watch south Louisiana wash away.” In addition, the governor declared,
“coastal restoration is important in more ways than we can count if we want to remain the great State of Louisiana.”
Other plenary speakers included Michael Ellis, Executive Director of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority; Chip Groat, President and CEO of The Water Institute of the Gulf; Mayor Mitch Landrieu, City of New Orleans; and Dr. Denise Reed, Chief Scientist at The Water Institute of the Gulf. Brad Inman, Senior Project Manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Chairman of the CWPPRA Planning and Evaluation Committee, presented The Status and Future of the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act Program.
The CWPPRA outreach exhibit at State of the Coast was an exciting stop for conference attendees. Through a partnership with the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program, participants were able to visit with a live alligator and nutria at the booth. Beignet the nutria demonstrated the tremendous quantity and speed at which nutria can eat, illustrating the destruction that they cause to coastal wetlands. Bootsie, an American Alligator, represented wetland wildlife that contributes to local economy and various industries. CWPPRA debuted a new poster series campaign entitled “Protect Our Coast.” Illustrated by CWPPRA Media Specialist Nikki Cavalier, the two posters depict the Louisiana iris and the Brown Pelican. The Protect Our Coast campaign theme was extended through a photo booth in the exhibit. Participants were able to select from a variety of props to hold or wear while posing in front of the campaign poster banners. Participants posted their photos on multiple social media platforms with the campaign hashtag #ProtectOurCoast.