Louisiana youth celebrate wetlands April 19-23

Kenneth Gautreaux, Mullens, Ashley  |  1/4/2011 1:15:48 AM

News Release Distributed 04/12/10

For the fourth year in a row, students in fourth through 12th grades across the state will study and celebrate Louisiana’s wetlands during Youth Wetlands Week, which this year is April 19-23.

“Wetland habitats exist all over Louisiana. Our coastal wetlands are known for fishing and producing some of the nation’s best seafood. And our upland wetlands play a vital role in providing habitat for wildlife such as migrating waterfowl and the Louisiana black bear,” said Ashley Mullens, youth wetlands program director for LSU AgCenter 4-H Youth Development.

Teachers were sent curriculum materials to use during that week, as well as throughout the year, Mullens said. Components include grade-appropriate lesson plans for the classroom, activities that can be conducted in a wetlands environment and educational videos that highlight wetlands career opportunities.

“We will have native vegetative plantings in both north and south Louisiana. Students will also be participating in service-learning projects that are wetlands related. Events are also scheduled to coincide with the Baton Rouge and Natchitoches Earth Day celebrations,” Mullens said.

Among the week’s activities is a tree planting near Slidell.

“On April 22, students and volunteers will plant bald cypress trees and clean up debris around Fort Pike near Slidell,” Mullens said. The Fort Pike site was chosen because many trees in the area were lost during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Mark Tassin, state director of the 4-H youth program, said Youth Wetlands Week has been recognized as a program of distinction by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“We have documented through testing that students increase their knowledge about wetlands after participating in the program. And more than 200,000 students have taken part in the program, so we are reaching a large audience,” Tassin said.

The Louisiana Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration serves as the funding source. Youth Wetlands Week was originally a three-year program, but because of the program’s success, it received three more years of funding, which ends in 2012, Mullens said. The LSU AgCenter receives $500,000 each year to conduct Youth Wetlands Week and other wetlands activities.

Craig Gautreaux
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