Lafayette 4-H’ers receive conservation award for hurricane recovery work

Charles Hebert, Coreil, Paul D., Schultz, Bruce  |  2/26/2009 4:56:16 AM

News Release Distributed 02/25/09

LAFAYETTE, La. – The 4-H Junior Leader Club in Lafayette Parish has been chosen for the Governor’s Conservation Award by Louisiana Wildlife Federation for helping Cameron Parish after hurricanes Rita and Ike.

Club members will receive the award at the LWF convention in Monroe this weekend (Feb. 27-March 1).

“We didn’t do this for the award,” said Emily Desormeaux, a Comeaux High School junior, president-elect of the parish Junior Leader Club. “We did this to make an impact on people’s lives.”

“That’s what 4-H is all about,” added Kacie Dugas, a junior at Teurlings High School who is the club secretary.

Vice President Desire’ Taylor, a Carencro High junior, said the project began by visiting Cameron Parish after Hurricane Rita in 2005, and they were shocked by the devastation. “We were crying.”

“It was very emotional,” Desormeaux recalled.

Taylor said after learning what students needed, several programs were started to help them.

For students who were active in raising and showing animals, the Lafayette 4-H’ers delivered donated show supplies such as water buckets, feed buckets and grooming aids. Oak trees were planted, and in some cases re-planted after Hurricane Ike ruined their first efforts at restoring vegetation.

They also conducted an educational Water Festival that helped Cameron Parish fourth graders learn the importance of water conservation and protecting the environment.

Lafayette Parish 4-H students took a group of Cameron Parish students on an educational trip in the summer of 2006 to Tennessee where they enjoyed outdoor teambuilding sports, including whitewater rafting. Dugas said the trip was rewarding because it allowed them to get to know the Cameron Parish kids better. “It was good to see a face connected to what we were doing. It was good to see them having fun.”

The club’s adult leader, LSU AgCenter 4-H Agent Charles Hebert, said club members learned the value of caring and generosity.

Dugas said the award came as a surprise because Hebert hadn’t told them he was entering their work for consideration. “It re-affirmed what we did. It’s like the icing on the cake.”

“Our youth had a leadership role with adult assistance to make decisions and solve problems related to their service.” Hebert said. “They have built upon their experiences and are now catalysts for social change on Louisiana’s coastal restoration and conservation.”

Hebert said club members strengthened community ties, developed strong partnerships with more than 20 community groups and built lifelong friendships with 4-H members in Cameron Parish.

Paul Coreil, LSU AgCenter vice chancellor and director of the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service, said the award demonstrates what young people involved in 4-H can accomplish.

"This prestigious award is the highest honor any organization can achieve in Louisiana for work related to the conservation of natural resources,” Coreil said. “These young people from Lafayette Parish 4-H should be proud of this achievement. We in the LSU AgCenter are impressed with the leadership exhibited by the junior leaders and the sense of hope they provided to Cameron Parish youth during a time of major crisis."
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Contacts: Charles Hebert at (337) 291-7090 or chebert@agcenter.lsu.edu

Paul Coreil at (225) 578-6083 or pcoreil@agcenter.lsu.edu

Writer: Bruce Schultz at (337) 788-8821 or bschultz@agcenter.lsu.edu

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