Webquil team members from the Satellite Center created a new website for the Wetland Watchers. John Klein, Kandyce Benoit, and Travis Versher worked for two months to design the new Wetland Watchers website.
Hurst teacher, Barry Guillot and some of his students were recently invited to share their experiences and information about the LaBranche Wetland Watchers Service-Learning Project with participants from the Summit for Courageous Conversations: Achieving Racial Equity and Excellence in Education Conference that was held in New Orleans recently. Superintendents, Principals, teachers, and program directors from around the nation gathered for a 3 day conference that examined, embraced, and celebrated equity/anti-racist educational policies, programs, and practices that empower educators to create schools that offer every student a world class education.
As part of the conference, a group of visitors from around the United States and Canada traveled to Hurst Middle School in Destrehan, Louisiana to learn more about Hurst Middle School’s nationally recognized environmental service-learning project.
“I am honored that I was asked to speak to this group and very excited about having 12 of my students as part of the presentation as well. I have always believed that service-learning offers all students educational opportunities that would not be available otherwise, as well as giving students from all backgrounds a chance to be a positive contributing member of their community.” said Hurst teacher Barry Guillot.
During the presentation, students shared insights into their personal motivations for participating in the Wetland Watchers project. Some mentioned their love for animals, or the enjoyment of working with younger students. Others discussed how valuable it was for them as students to have these real life experiences instead of learning straight out of a text book. All of them agreed that they enjoyed working in the wetlands and spreading awareness of the importance of Louisiana wetlands. The visiting teachers remained on the Hurst campus for two and a half hours discussing how they might implement a similar type program at their schools.
“LaBranche Wetland Watchers is a high quality service-learning project that is explicitly linked to content standards. It’s the perfect project to get people new to service-learning engaged and excited about getting involved. It brings all eight of the service-learning standards to life and illustrates how middle school kids can take the lead in building support for Louisiana’s coastal restoration.”
- Wokie Weah, NYLC Vice President, Programs
“We all enjoyed listening to the students’ presentations, and seeing the passion Mr. Guillot has in teaching them about the wetlands.”
-Maya Beecham, National Youth Leadership Council, Program Coordinator
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.