Thousands of Louisiana students participate in Wetlands Week April 20-24

Brandy Orlando, Mullens, Ashley, Powell, Ashley  |  4/29/2015 7:57:18 PM

Terry Barker, an elementary education major at LSU of Alexandria, gives students a closer look at some insects they found during a scavenger hunt at Wetlands Exploration Day at Louisiana 4-H Grant Walker 4-H Educational Center on April 23. (Photo by Brandy Orlando)

Students use tools to replicate the variations of bird beaks while trying to gather food and bring it back to the nest with one had behind their back during Wetlands Exploration Day at Louisiana 4-H Grant Walker 4-H Educational Center on April 23. (Photo by Brandy Orlando)

Students at water’s edge explore the pond at Windy Wood while looking for insects and arthropods during Wetlands Exploration Day at Louisiana 4-H Grant Walker 4-H Educational Center on April 23. (Photo by Brandy Orlando)

News Release Distributed 04/29/15

POLLOCK, La. – Thousands of students from across the state participated in Wetlands Week April 20-24 to celebrate one of Louisiana’s most valuable treasures.

In collaboration with the 4-H Youth Wetlands Program, LSU AgCenter Grant Walker 4-H Educational Center hosted a Wetlands Exploration Day on April 23.

“It’s a great opportunity for the kids to take science outdoors,” said Ashley Powell, program coordinator at Grant Walker.

Thirty fifth-graders from Colfax Elementary School in Colfax, Louisiana, rotated through five learning tracks: an arthropod adventure, investigating insects, wetlands taste exploration, you are what you beak and birds of a feather.

“Each track takes the students through an interactive journey of life in the wetlands from the perspective of birds and insects,” Powell said.

The students learned the process and struggle of migration, how birds with different beaks gather food and how to classify arthropods, and went on a scavenger hunt for insects. They also created their own wetland ecosystem using a variety of foods to represent each vital wetland component such as soil, water, trees and animals.

Chauma Chelette, a fifth-grader, said her favorite track was taste of the wetlands. “We got to make our own wetland with real food, and then we got to eat it,” she said.

The Wetlands Exploration Day was only one held event during Wetlands Week in Louisiana. The goal of the program is to extend wetlands exploration to all parishes that want to participate, said Ashley Mullens, program coordinator of the 4-H Youth Wetlands Program.

Wetlands Week kicked off at the Louisiana Earth Day celebration in Baton Rouge on Sunday, April 19. The outreach continued throughout the week with events targeting Louisiana wetlands exploration, fishing clinics, service projects, large-scale planting, classroom presentations and contests.

“Wetlands Week is the highlight of the 4-H Youth Wetlands Program’s year-round efforts to raise awareness about the importance of Louisiana’s wetlands,” Mullens said.

Begun in 2007, the 4-H Youth Wetlands Program is funded by a grant through the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. The program offers teachers in grades three through 12 a free, 35-lesson curriculum tying wetlands into Louisiana Grade Level Expectations.

The curriculum focuses on outreach and impact, with experiential learning at the forefront, Mullens said. Students get to take what they learn in the classroom and apply it by gathering data and experimenting.

More information on the 4-H Youth Wetlands Program is available from Mullens at 225-578-2196 or by email.

Brandy Orlando
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