Oil City students participate in Youth Wetlands Week

Mary Ann Van Osdell, Kilpatrick, Ricky L.  |  4/29/2009 7:57:03 PM

News Release Distributed 04/29/09

OIL CITY, La. – Wearing nametags featuring their “personalitree,” 135 Oil City Elementary Magnet School fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders learned about forestry at Jeems Bayou Hunting and Fishing Club on Caddo Lake on Earth Day, April 22.

Students had 20 minutes to rotate through various subjects, including “Trees of Jeems Bayou” presented by Ricky Kilpatrick, LSU AgCenter area forester.

Catalpa trees are great for fishermen, Kilpatrick said, explaining they have worms on them part of the year.

He told the students he suspected one of the trees on the settlement was planted by Caddo Indians. Kilpatrick said Indians used crushed berries to wash their clothes from the soapberry tree.

He pointed out poison ivy along the walk. “Leaves of three, let it be,” the LSU AgCenter forester said.

Kilpatrick also showed the students where beavers gnawed some trees and weakened them.

Natalie Hunsicker, a member of America’s Wetlands Conservation Corps, guided students through a fishing activity where they cast for plastic fish in relay teams to earn points.

America’s Wetland Conservation Corps members and 4-H agents across the state recruited schools to take part in Youth Wetlands Week. Curriculum materials were delivered to 800 teachers through the LSU AgCenter.

Cindy Kilpatrick, an Oil City science teacher, included a lesson that helped students become acquainted with a large Louisiana map she made and involved students in mapping the major wetlands areas in the state.

She also taught about the problem of the invasive water plant salvinia on Caddo Lake by using piles of cereal and math lessons to show how it multiplies.

Students tested Caddo Lake water quality, said teacher Debbie Milam.

The students “found a baby crawfish, saw a garter snake and tested pH, nitrates and temperature,” Milam said. “The water was 72 degrees.”

Student David Hartsell said he saw a bug when looking through the microscope. “I couldn’t see it with my eyes alone,” he said.

Linda Waters taught ecotourism and its importance to the community. Students designed a brochure for a business (a lake tour, charter fishing business, duck hunting guide or bed and breakfast) to promote Caddo Lake as a recreational area.

“Water comes from Texas and flows to Caddo Lake,” Waters said. “Some of this water will eventually be in the Gulf of Mexico,” traveling to Twelve Mile Bayou, the Red River and the Mississippi River.

“The bottom of Caddo Lake is icky because of sand and silt,” Waters said. “But plants, animals and fish love it.”

Waters said the biological community in the Caddo Lake watershed is unique and not found anywhere else in the United States. Examples she cited are cypress trees, mud snakes, banded pygmy sunfish, spitting spiders, tiny mason wasps and river otters.


Mary Ann Van Osdell 

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