Ecolympics brings wildlife management awareness to youth through fun challenges

(02/29/24) POLLOCK, La. — A group of sixth, seventh and eighth grade students gathered at the Grant Walker 4-H Educational Center last week to attend the Ecolympics Junior Wildlife Habitat Education Program Challenge, an event designed to give them a deeper understanding of wildlife and various habitats.

Throughout the day, attendees participated in activities such as wildlife identification and creating a management plan for the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden, culminating in a defense of the plan to a group of judges.

4-H youth wetlands program director Adriane Bercegeay said events like this are crucial to educate the youth about wildlife species particular to the south Louisiana bioregion.

“We hope that they get a better appreciation of native species and learn different habitat management practices to bring back to their respective parishes,” she said.

The species the students focused on was the ruby-throated hummingbird. They learned about various habitat management practices and developed a master plan to increase hummingbird viewings.

“We wanted to focus on pollinators like the hummingbird because they contribute to the foundation of our food chain,” Bercegeay said.

Esther Boe, 4-H coordinator for the AgCenter Central Region, said the attendees, while focusing on the hummingbird, got a crash course in the very basis of ecosystems.

“They are learning about single-cell organisms all the way up the ecosystem to get a background on preserving the hummingbird species,” she said.

Reese Fourroux, a Pointe Coupee Parish participant, wearing a bright red 4-H Climate Crew t-shirt, said she was excited to attend the Ecolympics because it seemed like a good way to meet new friends while learning lessons about the environment and simply having fun.

“I really liked when we scanned the QR codes and learned which footprint and skin belonged to each animal, and I also liked the scavenger hunt,” she said.

Student at a display table.

Rapides Parish 4-H agent Heather Bordelon and LaSalle Parish 4-H agent Silas Cecil help youth create seed bombs to foster growth of native flowers that attract native pollinators like hummingbirds and bees. Photo by V. Todd Miller/LSU AgCenter

2/29/2024 7:06:24 PM
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