Given a chance to grow

Published 2:24 pm Saturday, April 5, 2014

By Monique Roth


NORCO – Twenty-one high school students from Washington International School in Washington, D.C., visited New Orleans this week and dug right in, literally, to aid in coastal restoration efforts.

The Louisiana State University AgCenter and the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority partnered to lead the students on a two-day adventure that included visits to local wetlands and hurricane-stricken areas around New Orleans. As part of the service-learning mission of the trip, students planted native wetland vegetation in Wetlands Watchers Park in Norco.

“We’re very excited to host Washington International School as they explore our wetlands and help us to restore areas that have been damaged by storms and other factors,” said Mindy Brooks of the LSU AgCenter’s Youth Wetlands Program. “Louisiana wetlands loss is a national issue, and we see this as a great opportunity for students in another state to become advocates for our wetlands.”

Ten-year-old Sean Turner, who was named the 2013 Youth Conservationist of the Year by the Louisiana Wildlife Federation, spoke to the students about Louisiana’s coast and efforts to restore coastlines.

Chuck Perrodin of CPRA highlighted CPRA’s Master Plan with the students and discussed how a major component of the plan is to preserve and restore Louisiana’s coastline. Perrodin also guided students through wetland ecosystems that have been restored or are currently being restored, as well as areas that have high plant mortality because of issues like saltwater intrusion.

Washington International student Beatrice Cubitt said the trip was an eye-opening experience.

“It’s amazing that something so dire is going on,” Cubitt said.

Rudy Becker, trip coordinator of Washington International School, said “this unique experience will be very meaningful to our students.”