Mark A. Schexnayder, Morgan, Johnny W. | 8/14/2006 9:24:15 PM
The LSU AgCenter’s efforts to help with the cleanup and recovery in New Orleans continue to take on national dimensions.
One of the latest projects targeted Bayou Metairie in City Park and included 200 volunteers. Although most were local, some came from as far away as Boston.
"What we’re doing is getting rid of the fallen trees as well as removing invasive species that have started to take over these waterways since the storm, and we are putting in native plants that will be good for fish habitat and will also help stabilize the shoreline," said Mark Schexnayder, the LSU AgCenter’s Hurricane Recovery Coordinator headquartered in Metairie.
The volunteers spent most of August 5 in and out of the water pulling debris and setting out plants to stabilize the fragile ecosystem.
Schexnayder along with Amanda Hardesty, the volunteer coordinator with LSU’s Sea Grant Program, and Colleen Morgan, an intern from Yale University, work as a team to get volunteer workers who come into the city in touch with people with the greatest need.
Hardesty came to New Orleans herself as a volunteer last December with a group of 30 students from Ohio State University to help with the cleanup. Later she decided to stay on and help in placing volunteers where the need is greatest.
"Amanda and Colleen are constantly looking for volunteers and places to send them to help out with the cleanup," Schexnayder said. "We are primarily focusing on fisheries, agricultural and environmental recovery projects."
Since the storm, groups from around the country have come to lend a hand in the recovery. The volunteers that came out to help with the City Park cleanup included people from organizations like Common Ground, Operation Blessing, Louisiana Master Gardeners, church and school groups and also some concerned citizens.
This cleanup effort is actually the result of several grants and donations, which included a $2,500 donation from the City of New Orleans to buy plants, heavy equipment from Operation Blessing, and contributions from the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board and Miller Brewing Company.
Schexnayder said he has volunteers working on some type of project almost all the time.
"During the past few months, we’ve been in areas working with citrus farmers helping them to pick their fruit. We’ve worked with dairy farmers repairing fences. And we’ve also done repairs to seafood docks and recreational launch facilities. We go to any area where there’s a need," he said.
One of the next projects the volunteers will be involved with is building 10 crab shedding systems that will be given to people in the business that lost their entire crabbing operations.
Schexnayder said this project is being funded by a W.K. Kellogg Foundation grant through the Crescent City Farmers Market and the Louisiana Sea Grant Program to help restore the fisheries infrastructure in the area.
For additional information on how to volunteer or if you need help for your home or business from damages related to the storm, you can contact Schexnayder at the LSU AgCenter office in Jefferson Parish at (504) 838-1170.