Louisiana youth to explore state’s wetlands April 22-27

News Release Distributed 04/04/12

Students across Louisiana will be engaged in wetlands-related activities during Youth Wetlands Week, which runs April 22-27. Activities will revolve around learning the vital role wetlands play in offering recreational and economic opportunities along with their ecological value such as protection from hurricanes and their ability to improve water quality.

Youth Wetlands Week is organized by the LSU AgCenter’s 4-H Youth Development department. Ashley Mullens, Youth Wetlands program director, said activities are planned across the state based on a curriculum developed by the department with input from Louisiana science teachers.

“We provide an extensive curriculum that offers teachers a choice of lessons based on their access to a wetlands area. Some of the lessons can be conducted on a large-scale if a teacher has a major wetlands area nearby, and some can be performed on a small stream or even a water garden on the grounds of the school,” Mullens said.

This year marks the sixth consecutive year for celebrating Youth Wetlands Week. The curriculum is provided free to teachers and is distributed through the LSU AgCenter’s parish extension offices.

In northeast Louisiana, Mullens said students will have a special opportunity to participate in the Louisiana Wetlands Exploratory Days at the Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge near Tallulah. Starting on April 24, for four consecutive days, students visiting the refuge will conduct tree plantings, identify macro invertebrates and learn how animals have adapted to live in wetland areas.

“This year we decided to select an area of the state to coordinate our state office personnel with local agents and experience different lessons in a large wetlands location. The Tensas refuge is an excellent site for this,” Mullens said. She also said that plans are to select a different part of the state for next year’s exploratory days.

Other agencies expected to participate at the refuge include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the National Resources Conservation Service and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.

The Youth Wetlands program has been recognized nationally by the USFWS as a program connecting youth to natural resources. The program was named a national program of distinction by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and as a program of excellence by the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents.

Funding for the Youth Wetlands program is provided by the Louisiana Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration. The program is in the final year of a three-year contract with that agency.

Craig Gautreaux

4/4/2012 11:41:23 PM
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