Wetland Watchers Park is located near the Bonnet Carre Spillway located in Norco, Louisiana
Directions to our site from Baton Rouge
Take I-10 East from Baton Rouge
Exit I-10 via ramp at sign reading “Exit I-310 S to Boutte/Houma” and go Southwest for 3 miles
Exit I-310 via ramp at sign reading “Exit 2 US-61 to Kenner/Norco”
Continue on Hwy 61 (Airline Hwy) for 5.5 miles to the Bonnet Carre Spillway
Do not cross the Spillway Bridge
Take a right onto the Bonnet Carre Spillway’s East Guide levee
Continue on the levee road for appx. 2.5 miles.
This is a shell road, but it will be graded before your arrival.
You will be forced to turn off the levee to travel under a railroad trestle and the I-10 overpass.
You will see everything once you pass under I-10!
Directions from N. Causeway Blvd to the Bonnet Carre Spillway
1. Merge onto I-10 W toward BATON ROUGE. 7.7 miles
2. Merge onto I-310 S via EXIT 220 toward BOUTTE/HOUMA. 2.9 miles
3. Merge onto AIRLINE HWY/US-61 via EXIT 2 toward NORCO 6.5 miles
4. Pass by the chemical plants and on your left you will see the Spillway Bar and a Shell Station. Directly across the street from the Shell Station is the Spillway’s East Guide Levee. Turn right onto the levee and drive 2.5 miles following the levee road underneath I-10 to Lake Pontchartrain and you will see Wetland Watchers Park on your right!
Mrs. Rexford’s seventh grade science students attended their first Wetland Watchers Service-Learning trip of the year participating in stations including physical, chemical, and biological water quality testing, planting cypress trees, touring the nature trail, participating in a GPS scavenger hunt, and hands-on opportunities with Louisiana’s most famous reptiles including an alligator, a corn snake, box turtles, and an alligator snapping turtle! We had wonderful volunteers from Dow Chemical and the Motiva Refinery facilitating stations. This is also the first time we had former Wetland Watcher students that are now part of the Destrehan High WISE Club (Wildcats Interested In Saving the Environment) facilitating stations! It was na impressive group of Wetland Watchers alumni taking part including 2 students who had spoken with me in Philadelphia, 6 students who had been on Radio Disney with me, and a student whose picture is in the Heroes of the Environment book! The WISE Club is providing an opportunity for our Hurst Middle students to continue participating in service-learning activities on the high school level!
The Hurst Middle Wetland Watchers were back in action recently as 135 8th grade students used Wetland Watchers Park as a setting for activities focused on geography, history, math, language arts, and science. As a service-learning project, students participate activities where they are meeting required academics standards as well as helping to improve our community and the environment. Students will use some of the information gained to create interpretive signage for the Wetland Watchers Park boardwalk. During the school year, students also share the knowledge they are learning from experts at University of New Orleans PIES, Dow, and Motiva to share with younger students across the region.
Over a two day period, all of the 8th graders at Hurst Middle were given the opportunity to participate in activities at Wetland Watchers Park. As part of the Hurst Wetland Watchers Service-Learning Project students are able to meet required academic standards while participating in activities that benefit their community or environment. This is the first time in 7 years that eighth graders were involved in this type of trip. Where seventh graders focus on Life science subjects like plants and animals and Language Arts descriptive essays, the eighth grade trip focused on Earth Science subjects such as soil composition and quality, as well as exploring Louisiana History concepts by focusing on the incredible local history of the area. Students took part in GPS Geocache activities that introduced them to the towns along the Lake Pontchartrain shoreline that were destroyed by a strong hurricane in 1915 through maps and survivor accounts. Educators with the UNO Pontchartrain Institute of Environmental Sciences led students through guided imagery activities involving firsthand accounts of journals written by Iberville’s carpenter in 1700 as he traveled through the LaBranche area, as well as math activities where students calculated percentage of land loss in the area over a 50 year period. Lake Pontchartrain Basin educators guided students as they dug foot deep holes in the ground to analyze different soil types and composition, while Dow St. Charles Operations volunteers facilitated stations with students testing and comparing soil absorption rates. Students were also involved in collecting sensory information to be used in their Language Arts classes to create poems about the area. This is an important trip for the 8th graders as during this school year, many of them will be working on collecting and organizing information that will be used in interpretive signage throughout Wetland Watcher Park and the future nature trails.
“I am so excited about the new 8th grade trips. Watching the students’ faces as they learn about events that occurred right where they are standing is so exciting. Everyone that visits the area is able to see its beauty right away, but not many people realize all of the history. One of the parents told me that he had lived there his whole life and didn’t know half the information that he learned out there. Actually seeing a Native American midden dated over 500 years old cannot be replaced by reading about it in a text book. Listening to written accounts of explorers that 300 years ago passed within 100 yards of where you are standing while you are surrounded by palmetto trees that are dated over 400 years old brings history to life for the students. It is hard not to be amazed that some of these trees were in the same place as the French explorers traveled by or that Native Americans may have used leaves off of one of these trees to make shelters.” said Hurst teacher Barry Guillot. “So far all of these activities are working wonderfully in their field tests. I am looking forward to having everything all packaged up so teachers from other schools can check out kits for different activities and share the same types of excitement with their students.”
Harry Hurst Eighth Graders Participate in Wetlands Video Conference with Jefferson Parish Third Graders
Recently, technology played a huge part of an education research project as third graders from Catherine Strehle Elementary were able to interview eighth grade students at Harry Hurst Middle school in Destrehan through a Skype video conference call on the computer. Third grade students from Strehle teacher Marianne Glass’s class were projected on the big screen in Hurst teacher Barry Guillot’s classroom as they asked questions about the students’ work in the wetlands as part of the LaBranche Wetland Watchers Service-Learning project. Eighth grade students were able to answer their questions through the video while also taking the opportunity to share some common wetland animals with the third graders.
“I presented the alligator to over 50,000 people last year, but showing them to the 3 rd graders on the webcam was a much different experience! It was so cool to see their excitement and hear their excitement through the computer!” said Hurst eighth grader Miranda Boudreaux.
“I like skyping with the seventh grade because I learned more about the wetlands from Mr. Guillot’s class than I could have from a book.” said Strehle third grader Lukie Lepine.
A huge part of the LaBranche Wetland Watchers service-learning project is the opportunity for students to share what they have learned from their experiences in the wetlands with others. Hurst students have presented to over 300,000 people through outreach events such as many of Louisiana’s festivals, at state and national conferences, at annual Earthday celebrations, and at science nights at many local schools.
“I thought it was really cool that the third graders could see us and speak to us through the camera. It was very educational for the 3 rd graders because even if they could not take a trip to the wetlands, they are able to learn from our experiences.” said Hurst eighth grader Krissy Chaisson.
“I really think that was a good learning experience because when you are reading a book and you are trying to learn – Wow, that is just so boring. I learned that we can save the wetlands. I think the information that I got from the seventh graders was so amazing. Also I learned that young people can save animals even though we are stronger and smarter. We will always save the animals and the wetlands. Also, we will fight to get the land back.” said Stehle third grader Megan Morazan.
“I was so impressed with how easy it was for us to be able to speak to another class at another location so easily!” said Harry Hurst teacher Barry Guillot “Both sets of students seemed to benefit so much from this experience. I am really excited about the many possibilities there are for us to make video conferencing a huge part of our outreach as well as my students learning more about other areas of the country. I am setting up a partnership with a school in Minnesota that is not too far away from where the Mississippi River begins and I think it would be great for the kids to compare what the river looks like at the beginning and the end and research all that happens to it in between!”
“Using the Skype to present was very fun! The kids came up with very interesting questions. In the near future, I look forward to presenting to other schools across the country. Even though I have presented the snake to lots of people, it was a really cool experience to do it with technology!” said Hurst eighth grader Zachary Sellers.
” Technologies like Skype are great benefits to student learning. Global opportunities such as conference calls and webinars allow our students to make connections outside of their normal learning environment. These types of communications are everyday occurrences in the work place today. When our students participate in experiences like these, their learning mimics the real world.” said Colleen Charles , Director of Instructional Technology for St. Charles Parish Public Schools.
“I learned about how they save the wetlands. And I learned about the toothache tree. I felt good to tie in with another class and I had fun.” said Strehl third grader Marcus Landry
“This experience was a privilege for me because I haven’t done anything like this before. I enjoyed talking to the kids because they looked liked they really wanted to learn more about what we do and that was very special to me that I was able to share with them.” said Hurst eighth grader Jacourtney Joseph.
“I’ve been a teacher for 14 years, and the experience of skyping with Mr. Guillot’s class has been the highlight of my teaching career. My third graders were enriched with the opportunity and possibility of learning beyond a classroom and a textbook. It was as though there were 2 teachers in the class! Our students were involved and focused. There was a wonderful connection between the classes as students taught other students with the guidance of the teachers. Mr. Guillot and his class were able to share their wealth of knowledge and experience, as well as live animals such as alligators and turtles, that gave depth and understanding to our study of the Louisiana Wetlands.” said Strehle teacher Marianne Glass.
“I learned that there are ways we could get some of our land back. And I learned that a baby alligator could grow up to 45 inches. I felt so happy during the skype. It was really fun and I learned a lot.” said Strehle third grader Jordan Thompson.
“I think talking to Mr. Guillot’s class was really fine, fun, and educating. The animals were pretty amazing.” Said Strehle third grader Taz Nguyen
“Using the webcam with Skype is such a great way to use technology to teach other kids about the wetlands. Video chats allow us to share information with many more people in other states so that they can learn about the importance of Louisiana wetlands to all of us.” said Hurst eighth grader Shannon Walsh.