LSU AgCenter recognized with Governor’s Conservation Award

Randy LaBauve, Collis, Hillary, Mullens, Ashley  |  1/4/2011 1:14:38 AM

News Release Distributed 02/18/10

The LSU AgCenter has been named 2009 Conservation Communicator of the Year in the 46th annual Governor’s Conservation Achievement Recognition Program. This is one of several awards given by the Governor’s Office to top conservation organizations and individuals. The awards and presentation event are conducted by the Louisiana Wildlife Federation.

The award will be presented to the LSU AgCenter for the video production “Wet Work.” The informational video series was produced specifically for the LSU AgCenter’s 4-H Youth Wetlands Education and Outreach program. The videos, along with other program materials, were effectively delivered to hundreds of educators and tens of thousands of students.

“We are honored that the Louisiana Wildlife Federation has chosen the LSU AgCenter as the Conservation Communicator of the Year,” said 4-H Youth Wetlands Education and Outreach program director Ashley Mullens.

“Winning this award is further validation of the important impact our wetlands educational program has on the youth of Louisiana,” she said.

The Youth Wetlands Education and Outreach program is a statewide environmental enrichment curriculum that educates students about critical wetland issues, introduces them to restoration technology and challenges them to become knowledgeable environmental ambassadors for the state of Louisiana.

“Youth wetlands education continues to be a major priority for the LSU AgCenter’s 4-H Youth Development program,” said AgCenter Vice Chancellor Dr. Paul Coreil.

“Through this hands-on educational process, young people not only embrace the important concept of sustaining our bountiful coastal resources, but they do something about it,” Coreil said.

The wetland outreach program is funded primarily by the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources and the Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration. Other curriculum sponsors are America’s Wetland Conservation Corps, Louisiana Sea Grant, Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program and the LSU AgCenter’s 4-H Youth Development.

The video series is a supplementary tool used alongside other educational resources. The wetland program also provides educators with a science-based, hands-on educational curriculum, supplies to teach wetland lessons and opportunities for wetland restoration projects.

All resource materials, including the “Wet Work” DVD, are provided at no cost to participating educators and implemented throughout the academic year. More than 49,000 students statewide registered for the 2009 youth wetlands education program.

“One of our goals is to bring students the best educational experience possible, and the ‘Wet Work’ series strongly enhances the content of the youth wetlands program curriculum by bringing wetland issues to life,” Mullens said. “It also gives them a nice glimpse at wetland career opportunities.”

In the genre of Mike Rowe’s “Dirty Jobs” TV program on the Discovery Channel, “Wet Work” teen host Austin Mouton tags along with leading wetland conservation experts to find out what it takes to work in wild, watery environments, while discovering the native wildlife these habitats support. In the process, the young host learns a natural balance needs to be maintained.

The three videos in the series explore coastal fisheries, coastal marsh restoration and freshwater wetlands. The video crew taped the productions at Lake Borgne, at marshlands near Avery Island and at Chicot State Park. The LSU AgCenter received on-site assistance from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism/Office of State Parks and the McIlhenny Company.

The “Wet Work” videos have been shown in classrooms statewide and at state, regional and national conferences. They also have been aired by Louisiana Public Broadcasting, Louisiana’s statewide PBS network, and are available for viewing on the Internet.

The AgCenter is producing a 2010 sequel video series.

“When educators integrate the ‘Wet Work’ series into their program lesson, it gives youth a greater understanding of the value of Louisiana’s wetlands,” said Mullens.

Members of the winning team are Hilary Collis, Craig Gautreaux, Randy LaBauve, Ashley Mullens and Austin Mouton. The award will be presented to the LSU AgCenter during the awards presentation at Cypress Bend Resort at Toledo Bend on February 27.

Randy LaBauve

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