On Tuesday, June 11th, the CWPPRA Public Outreach staff traveled to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Marine Research Lab in Grand Isle, Louisiana to discuss Louisiana wetlands with teachers from around the state. The teachers participated in WETshop: a week-long, dynamic teacher workshop that allows teachers to work with educators and scientists to learn about Louisiana coastal wetlands, issues, and history. The focus of the summer workshop is to create wetland stewards of teachers in order for them to educate coworkers and students in their home parishes about coastal land loss. The workshop was sponsored by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program. During WETshop, the teachers get a firsthand look at the importance of wetlands through visiting coastal ecosystems, water quality testing, marsh tours of coastal restoration sites, and the opportunity to learn about fisheries management, coastal botany and ornithology, and invasive species.
The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act’s Public Outreach staff participated in WETshop as coastal wetland educators. CWPPRA provided each of the twenty teachers with packets containing numerous publications and teaching resources, as well as posters from CWPPRA’s #ProtectOurCoast campaign. The public outreach staff also gave a presentation that highlighted causes of land loss, benefits of wetlands, CWPPRA’s history and success with projects, the Coastwide Reference Monitoring System, and different ways teachers can access and utilize wetland teaching materials.
Visit CWPPRA’s Education page to access coastal teaching tools.
In honor of National Environmental Education week, this week’s Wetland Wednesday highlights the
Louisiana Environmental Education Commission
The Louisiana Environmental Education Commission (LEEC) is a primary resource for all educators and citizens in furthering their environmental knowledge and awareness. The mission of the LEEC is to create a comprehensive and balanced environmental education initiative that results in environmentally literate citizens who effectively and constructively solve existing environmental problems, prevent new ones, and maintain a sustainable environment for future generations.
Throughout the year, the LEEC provides many opportunities for both students and teachers to participate in environmental education activities:
Environmental Education Symposium:
This annual two day conference includes workshops, concurrent sessions, exhibits, and keynote speaker on formal and informal environmental science education. This professional development opportunity for educators stimulates new classroom ideas and techniques, provides an opportunity for educators to network, and provides additional information on other professional development and classroom opportunities. Lodging assistance is awarded to applicable educators in order to help offset the cost of attendance. The LEEC partners with the Louisiana Environmental Education Association (LEEA) to plan & develop this symposium. – February
Educator / Professional Development / Research / Green Schools Grants Program: Teachers, university students, and informal educators can apply for competitive mini-grants ranging from $1000 to $5000 for a total of approximately $50,000 in awarded funds. Grants that are funded are based on sound scientific principles, have an environmental focus, and impact Louisiana students, educators, or Louisiana issues. Recipients are invited to present their ideas/findings at the Environmental Education Symposium. – March/April
Green Schools Program: The LEEC and the Louisiana Department of Education have an MOU in place to partner on promoting green initiatives in K-16 schools/universities, complementing the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Green Ribbon Schools initiatives. LDWF staff actively works with schools and universities around the state to encourage and offer guidance on the implementation of these ED pillars: (1) reduce environmental impacts and costs, (2) improve health and wellness, and (3) provide effective environmental and sustainability education. – ongoing
Art and Language Arts Contest: This K-12 student contest focuses on an environmental theme which is chosen annually by the LEEC. Information and applications are disseminated throughout school systems, home schools, and informal education venues. An awards ceremony honoring the winners, their families, and their teachers is held at the Governor’s Mansion in June. The winning entries are used to produce a calendar for the following year, which is distributed throughout the state. – January thru June
Workshops: The LEEC periodically hosts professional development workshops for environmental educators. To be offered in summer 2017 is Watershed Webs, which is a 4-day workshop for teachers of students in grades 5-12. It focuses on the dynamics of watersheds, water quality, trash, and our new WET tracker app. Teachers in the coastal parishes/counties of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas are eligible to participate. The Watershed Webs workshop series is funded through a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration B-WET grant.
It’s never too early to start thinking about sustainability- that was the message embodied by participants at the Louisiana Green Schools Youth Summit on March 24 held at the Audubon Zoo. An event organized by the Louisiana Environmental Education Commission and the Louisiana USGBC Chapter, the summit brought together students in grades 5 through 12 to discuss green initiatives in their schools and learn about other aspects of sustainability. Staff from the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act were there with information about the many different types of careers, including engineering, geology, and tourism, that contribute to coastal restoration efforts. CWPPRA staff also had #ProtectOurCoast posters and issues of WaterMarks for students. With almost 90 participants and exhibitors including Louisiana DEQ, Joule Energy, and The Green Project, the Youth Summit was an opportunity to look at how groups focusing on different aspects of sustainability, including CWPPRA’s wetland restoration projects, come together to create a better long-term future for Louisiana.
Environmental Studies students in Christina Hidalgo’s class at the Episcopal School of Acadiana do more than learn about general environmental issues; they also get outside and participate in direct monitoring of the ecosystems around them. On February 21st and 23rd they were joined by Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act staff to discuss coastal habitats, the mammal species that call them home, and different wildlife monitoring techniques.
On Tuesday CWPPRA staff and ESA students discussed the importance of barrier beach systems for both human and wildlife communities, and students were given training in how researchers trap small mammal populations in those locations for monitoring. After students deployed small mammal traps around the ESA Cade campus on Wednesday, CWPPRA staff returned Thursday morning to help with trap collection and see what students had captured. In addition to trapping a variety of insects drawn to the oatmeal-soybean bait and several traps which had been moved by larger animals, ESA students successfully captured a marsh rice rat (Oryzomys palustris)!
These rodents are found throughout the Gulf and mid-to-south Atlantic coasts and as far inland as Illinois and Kansas. As the name suggests, marsh rice rats are generally found in wetland areas, although drier areas with dense grasses and sedges, while not ideal habitat, are also utilized. A native species in Louisiana, marsh rice rats can even be found out on barrier islands where their omnivorous diet lets them take advantage of both terrestrial food resources and items that wash ashore. The rat captured on the ESA campus was trapped near a stream and probably forages along that water body at night. Finding a marsh rice rat on a school campus is a reminder that wetland habitats come in a range of sizes and types and that we share those habitats with many different species.
The Louisiana Environmental Education Commission, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and the Louisiana Environmental Education Association hosted the 20th Environmental Education State Symposium on February 3-4, 2017 at the Embassy Suites by Hilton in Baton Rouge, La. The theme of this year’s symposium was “protecting Louisiana’s endangered species.”
The Louisiana Environmental Education Commission (LEEC) provides environmental education news from across Louisiana, including information on environmental education programs, workshops, and grant opportunities. The state symposium furnished opportunities for formal and non-formal environmental educators from Louisiana and surrounding states to meet and share teaching techniques as well as multiple concurrent sessions for various topics and grade levels. Keynote speaker Dr. Jessica Kastler, Coordinator of Program Development at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory’s Marine Education Center, used individual cases of endangered species to engage the audience in explorations of the process of science while cultivating environmental stewardship. In addition to the keynote speech, presenters in 15 concurrent sessions provided lesson demonstrations, hands-on workshops, and/or exemplary programs. The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act Public Outreach Staff was among exhibitors with a multitude of materials to assist teachers of all grade levels in furthering their students’ knowledge in environmental education and coastal protection.
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.
Did you know:
CWPPRA debuted a new poster series campaign entitled “Protect Our Coast.”
Each of the four posters in the series depict a coastal related image accompanied by an explanation of how the image connects to wetlands and CWPPRA.
The state’s designated wildflower, the Louisiana iris can be found along the margins of freshwater bayous and sloughs. Having little tolerance for salt water, the Louisiana iris is one of many plant species at risk from saltwater intrusion. Channels dredged through wetlands alter the natural hydrology, resulting in increased salinity and the loss of fresh water vegetation and organisms. CWPPRA hydrologic restoration and freshwater diversion projects regulate salinity and restore the natural hydrology of wetlands, preserving the iris and many other iconic Louisiana plants and animals.
CWPPRA –The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act– is federal legislation enacted to identify, engineer and design, and fund the construction of coastal wetlands restoration projects. These projects provide for the long-term conservation of wetlands and dependent fish and wildlife populations. Projects funded by CWPPRA are cost-effective ways of restoring, protecting, and enhancing coastal wetlands. CWPPRA has a proven track record of superior coastal restoration science and monitoring techniques in Louisiana.
Louisiana accounts for over half of all commercial harvest landings in the Gulf of Mexico. Wetlands, particularly coastal marshes, play an imperative role in the life cycle of about 90% of Gulf marine species, including the blue crab. Providing a protective nursery, wetlands house an immensely diverse quantity of species that rely upon this habitat. CWPPRA aims to continue the protection and restoration of these essential habitats for wildlife, aquaculture, and fisheries.
Mangroves, which are used for nesting by Louisiana’s Brown Pelican, are threatened by the loss of Louisiana’s barrier islands. These islands are vanishing at an alarming rate due to man-made changes to coastal Louisiana, including the leveeing of the Mississippi River. Recognizing the ecological importance of barrier islands and their critical role in reducing hurricane storm surge in Louisiana, CWPPRA has played a part in the restoration of nearly every barrier island and barrier headland in Louisiana’s Barataria Basin.
Download your CWPPRA Protect Our Coast poster here! Don’t forget to spread coastal awareness by using the campaign hashtag #ProtectOurCoast!