Fishermen and spectators came together on Grand Isle, LA this past weekend to be a part of the 34th Annual Creole Classic Fishing Tournament, three days spent hoping to catch “the big one.” This annual event helps raise money for local charities while also giving thousands of outdoor enthusiasts an excuse to have fun on the coast. Held at the Bridge Side Marina in Grand Isle, the fishing tournament awards prizes in adult, child, and sponsor categories for fish like flounder, speckled trout, and bull red. While participants spend their days on the water, in the evenings they gather at the marina to weigh their catch, listen to music, and enjoy Cajun food.
This year the Creole Classic added a children’s activity area on Friday evening, coordinated by Restore or Retreat. Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) outreach staff set up the “Mysterious Wetland Wonders” activity, inviting kids (and adults) to guess the plant or animal relic (like an oyster shell or cypress knee) in the box by reading clues and feeling it with their hands. Kids also created Wilson’s plover chicks with LA Audubon and made prints of starfish and fish with Restore or Retreat. CWPPRA staff also had Protect Our Coast posters, WaterMarks, and Henri Heron Activity books available.
Making Wilson’s plover chicks with LA Audubon
CWPPRA staff try out “Coast 360” with Restore or Retreat
Coastal wetlands provide important habitat for a variety of fish species, helping Louisiana maintain its place as Sportsman’s Paradise. Unfortunately, these habitats are disappearing as erosion and subsidence take their toll on the coastal zone. CWPPRA works with our partners to protect and rebuild coastal wetlands so that fish, and the fishermen who pursue them, have a place to live and play.
Families in the Lafayette area spent Saturday, March 10 exploring their community and trying a range of activities as part of Family Adventure Day in support of Healing House and the local non-profit’s work with grieving children. Outreach staff from the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act collaborated with members of US Fish & Wildlife, NOAA, Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries, Acadiana Nature Station, and other groups to provide information and fun for the families who stopped by the Estuarine Habitats and Coastal Fisheries Center. Participants could hold juvenile alligators, make buttons and magnets, learn about local pollinators, and take part in other activities.
CWPPRA staff helped children think about the importance of different types of wetlands while matching native species to the correct habitat. Families could also get Henri Heron Activity Books and Protect Our Coast posters. A general theme of the activities offered at the Estuarine Habitats and Coastal Fisheries Center was citizen science, and participants learned how to use binoculars, identify birds and bird calls, and about a variety of on-line and app resources for identifying and recording what they see in their own backyards. These data can then be used by scientists to look at where certain species are, how those populations are doing, and when seasonal events like migration occur. Hopefully finding more ways to interact with the species and habitats outside will lead to more family adventures.
Are you interested in learning more about coastal restoration in Louisiana? Perhaps, you are looking for a fun, easy way to educate on coastal restoration topics. Either way, the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act has the tools for you. Visit our website to find a wetland curriculum for teachers, activity books for children, printed materials, interactive games, quizzes and more.
Click the links below to join in on the fun!
Folks in New Orleans had no need to wait for Earth Day to celebrate the environment- the Audubon Zoo hosted their annual Earth Fest on March 18, and the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act was on-hand to discuss the importance of wetlands and wetland conservation in Louisiana. Visitors to the zoo could answer questions at each exhibitor’s booth to collect stamps and win a prize- for those who wanted to test their wetlands knowledge further, CWPPRA staff had the “Wetland Jeopardy” game ready and waiting. Staff also distributed posters from the #ProtectOurCoast series, activity books, and other CWPPRA publications.
This full-day event at the zoo included live music, information on student work, and the opportunity to talk with representatives from Louisiana Sea Grant, the National Park Service, bee-keeping groups, and other organizations with an eye to the environment. Celebrating Earth Fest in March is a great way to remember that environmental conservation, including of wetlands, is not just something for a single day- CWPPRA projects work to protect and restore wetlands throughout the year for the communities, livelihoods, and wildlife that depend on them.
Families enjoying a Saturday adventure together on March 11th had the chance to explore different aspects of the ecosystems around them, including ways that wetlands help them and native wildlife. Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration staff exhibited materials and games at the Estuarine Habitats and Coastal Fisheries Center as part of 2017 Family Adventure Day to benefit the non-profit Healing House in Lafayette, LA. This annual event sends families to different locations throughout Lafayette for experiences that range from face painting to coming face-to- face with a snake.
Over 250 people stopped by the Center where they had the opportunity to see a demonstration of how coastal wetlands protect interior communities and wildlife habitat from storm surge. Visitors could pick up recent issues of WaterMarks and other materials on wetlands restoration projects in coastal Louisiana. Kids also received Henri Heron’s activity book and helped match Louisiana wildlife with the wetland habitat they need to survive.
Other exhibitors, including US Fish & Wildlife Service and Louisiana Dept. of Wildlife & Fisheries, focused on topics like bat conservation, beekeeping, endangered species in Louisiana, and fishing. Helping families understand and appreciate the diversity of natural environments in Louisiana helps ensure that those environments will be present in the future.
World Wetlands Day is designated as a day to raise global awareness about the value and benefits of wetlands for both humanity and the planet; it is celebrated every February 2nd. Wetlands provide an immense number of benefits to not only the surrounding areas via protection, but also thriving aquaculture industries and commodities on both a national and international level. Healthy wetlands play a vital role in sustaining life and acting as natural safeguards in extreme weather events through disaster risk reduction.
The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act participated in the appreciation of wetlands by attending the World Wetlands Day Celebration on February 2nd, 2017 at the Bayou Terrebonne Waterlife Museum in Houma, La. The South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center hosted its 8th annual celebration by inviting third grade students from St. Matthews Episcopal School and Honduras Elementary, as well as sixth grade students from St. Francis de Sales Catholic School, totaling 185 local students, to learn about different aspects of wetlands. The CWPPRA Public Outreach Staff informed students about the relevance of wetlands by drawing connections between four different yet familiar types of wetlands and seafood, previous hurricane activity in the region, industry jobs, and wetland functionality. In order to do so, the CWPPRA staff incorporated the Where the Wild Things Are game to teach the students about wetland habitats and the animals living in them. This game consisted of students matching different wetland bean bag animals to the correct habitat: swamp, marsh, barrier island, and ocean. Where the Wild Things Are provides an opportunity for students to understand the connections between different wetland environments, recognize the adaptability of some animals to more than one habitat, and identify specific characteristics of each habitat, such as vegetation.
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 October 15, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hosted the 19th Annual Wild Things Festival at the Southeast Louisiana Refuge Headquarters in Lacombe, La. This exciting family-friendly event gives the community an opportunity to engage in outdoor activities while celebrating National Wildlife Refuge Week. This free public event included canoe and pontoon boat tours, hayrides, live animals, wildflower walks, kids activities, bird house building, live music, and a youth wildlife art competition.
The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act Public Outreach staff was among the 40 exhibitors providing hands-on activities to encourage knowledge of the Louisiana outdoors. In order to accurately portray the importance of aquatic, coastal regions, the CWPPRA staff utilized an ocean character, Sid the Restoration Squid, whose six unique legs each represented a different restoration method. The six restoration methods include barrier island restorations, marsh creations, shoreline protection, hydrologic restoration, freshwater and sediment diversions, and terracing. Each leg consisted of a distinct craft material that would correspond with a restoration method, in which children would assemble and personalize their own squid. Each child’s personal squid was accompanied by an explanation guide of CWPPRA’s efforts to restore, protect, and/or create Louisiana’s wetlands.
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.
Marsh Maneuvers is an education program focused on increasing the interests and knowledge of the younger generation toward coastal ecology and the biology of the coastal area. The program is a four week series camp in which each week, four parishes send high-school 4-H students to participate in a four-day camp. LSU AgCenter, in cooperation with the Louisiana Sea Grant College Program, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, are sponsors of the Marsh Maneuvers program held at Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge in Grand Chenier, LA. The 64 students experience activities such as airboat tours of natural marsh ecosystems, trolling for aquatic life, learning about both native and invasive vegetation and wildlife, and understanding biological processes on the coast.
On July 19 and 26, the CWPPRA Public Outreach staff gave a presentation and distributed a multitude of published materials to the attendees of the 2016 Marsh Maneuver camps. The presentation focused on CWPPRA’s selection process, projects in southwest Louisiana, and various methods used for restoration. While the majority of coastal erosion occurs in Louisiana, the entire country falls victim to its effects. CWPPRA believes that it is imperative to be aware of the natural and anthropogenic impacts to coastal regions and educate the youth to be ambassadors for restoration of the coast.