LSU AgCenter Lessons Help Students Learn About Storms Coastal Erosion More

Lanette Hebert, Schultz, Bruce  |  9/27/2006 1:20:48 AM

Fourth grader Jarrett Thibodeaux, far left, tells his teacher, Peggy Griffith, far right, about his team’s design for beach erosion control. The experiment was conducted at South Cameron Elementary School from a lesson provided by the LSU AgCenter.

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco talks with students at South Cameron Elementary School about their experiment for ways of controlling beach erosion during storms.

News Release Distributed 09/26/06

GRAND CHENIER, La. – Students at South Cameron Elementary School recently learned about beach erosion control by using an LSU AgCenter lesson plan about hurricanes.

Teacher Peggy Griffith said the lesson works well with the fourth-grade curriculum.

"It fits right in with our lesson," she said. "In earth sciences, we talk about coastal erosion."

Griffith said her students have become more aware of the problems since last year’s hurricanes – particularly Hurricane Rita, which dramatically affected this area,

"They know what’s going on," she said. "They’ve seen it firsthand."

The lesson plans, written by LSU AgCenter graduate assistant Kathryn Fontenot, include details on how storms are formed, Hurricane Rita’s effects on agriculture in the area, hurricane terms, hurricane preparation measures and other material.

Lanette Hebert, the LSU AgCenter’s 4-H regional coordinator for central and southwestern Louisiana, said the hurricane lesson plans will be distributed to teachers across the area by LSU AgCenter agents.

Hebert said the material was written to encourage students to get involved with their families in the hurricane preparation process – with the idea that they can suggest to parents what steps should be taken.

"That’s what 4-H was based on – educating the children so they would go back and educate the parents," she said.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco stopped to visit one of the classes Friday (Sept. 22).

"They’re looking to rebuild strong," she said. "I think this is a good lesson."

Blanco also said the southwestern Louisiana students showed resilience.

"There’s a good spirit," she said. "These kids are committed to making their lives come back."

Cameron Parish 4-H leaders Jake Fontenot and Penny Thibodeaux, along with Griffith, came up with an experiment to demonstrate how beach erosion can be controlled.

In the experiment, sand poured into one end of a plastic storage box was used to simulate a beach. Different erosion control features were built using common items. Students filled the boxes with a 2-inch depth of water, then rocked the containers to make waves.

Dalynn Mhire smashed modeling clay against a popsicle stick fence that she made to hold back waves in a simulated storm.

"All right, look guys, no water is going to get through here," she told her fourth-grade classmates.

One of her team members, Cade Murphy, was worried that the design might not work.

"When we get the wave action, everything is going to tear up," he said.

They installed another wall of three bricks for their first line of defense.

After the experiment, Cade was relieved that, for the most part, the features worked.

"We had some erosion, but not a lot," Murphy said. "We did good."

Students know personally the damage hurricanes cause to buildings.

Their original classroom structure, damaged beyond repair, was a demonstration of what can happen to buildings in a hurricane. Now their classes are being held in a large temporary building.

Many of their homes also were damaged or wiped out by the storm.

After the experiment, students talked about their personal experiences after Hurricane Rita.

Student Kayleigh Fuselier said her family is living in a mobile home.

"If anybody is running in the house, it shakes," she said.

Brianna Fountain said her cousin kept crying, "I want my house back."

"When we got to my house, there wasn’t anything left there but sand," Fountain recalled.

Hallie Boudreaux told the class that when her family returned to Cameron, all they found was devastation.

"On the way, we passed up our house, because there was nothing left," she said.

Luke Miller said his family returned to their home site and found only pilings remained. In a bit of good news, however, he said the family dog that got left behind was waiting on the road.

"He was wagging his tail," Miller said.

Linlee Lalande said her family returned to their home two days after the storm and found the family cat in a tree.

Caine Badon said his family’s cat also survived the storm.

"Her name was Stormy, but we renamed her Rita," he said.


Contact: Lanette Hebert at (337) 788-7547 or
Writer: Bruce Schultz at (337) 788-8821 or

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