La. 4-H program wins national award

Richard Bogren, Tassin, Mark G., Mullens, Ashley  |  1/4/2011 1:11:28 AM

News Release Distributed 12/14/10

An LSU AgCenter 4-H program has been chosen for a national award by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Youth Wetlands education and outreach program was selected to receive the U.S. Fish and Wildlife-4-H 2011 Connecting Youth with Nature Through Natural Resources Conservation Education Award.

The award consists of a $10,000 grant to the LSU AgCenter Youth Development Department plus travel for five program representatives to attend an awards reception at the North American Wildlife and Natural Resource Conference March 16, 2011, in Kansas City, Mo.

“We’re thrilled to receive this recognition,” said Mark Tassin, head of the LSU AgCenter 4-H Youth Development Department. “It’s a testament to the strong work of a whole lot of people in our 4-H program.”

The Youth Wetlands Education and Outreach program is a statewide LSU AgCenter 4-H initiative by the Louisiana Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration, Tassin said. It’s designed to heighten students’ awareness of Louisiana’s wetland loss through an organized educational program of outreach, empowerment and advocacy.

“This program exemplified the objectives of this award, which recognized outstanding 4-H programming in wildlife conservation and environmental education areas,” said U.S. Department of Agriculture youth development program specialist Maria Arnold. “The development, implementation and evaluation of this outstanding education program demonstrate sound stewardship of fish and wildlife resources.”

Louisiana 4-H provides participating teachers with program materials – including structured lesson plans, materials used to teach lessons and step-by-step procedures to activities – at no cost, said Ashley Mullens, youth wetlands program manager in 4-H Youth Development.

“This esteemed national award represents a strong recognition of Louisiana’s 4-H programming excellence,” said Paul Coreil, vice chancellor of the LSU AgCenter. “We are very fortunate to have strong support from the Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration in our youth educational efforts as well as a talented team of 4-H agents and school teachers dedicated to the full awareness of the value of Louisiana’s coastal and inland wetlands.”

Teachers present the lessons throughout the academic year, and the program culminates during Youth Wetlands Week, Mullens said. The program curriculum is endorsed by the Louisiana Science Teachers Association, and lessons are designed to follow Louisiana’s Grade Level Expectations. Students complete pre- and post-tests, and the results reflect increased knowledge of main science concepts.

During summer, students are encouraged to attend four summer camps that use the program curriculum and provide wetland-related, hands-on learning activities. Students also have other opportunities to participate in wetland restoration projects throughout the year in various locations across the state, Mullens said. “They have helped with vegetative plantings, constructed and installed wood duck boxes, and assisted in trash bashes and beach sweeps.

Rick Bogren

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