What We Do!
Wetland Watcher Service-Learning Projects
Louisiana State University Coastal Roots Project
Harry Hurst students work with experts to learn how important trees are to Louisiana Coastal Wetlands. Students research indigenous trees and which trees grow best in their planting sites. Students prepare the soil and plant enough seeds to potentially grow nearly a thousand tree seedlings. Students then learn the best ways and places to plant the seedlings throughout our local wetland areas so that they can facilitate younger students on tree planting trips. For more information about the Louisiana State University Coastal Roots Project visit the following website: http://lamer.lsu.edu/projects/coastalroots/
University of New Orleans – Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Sciences Water Quality Testing Project
Harry Hurst students work with experts from the University of New Orleans to learn how to collect physical, chemical, and biological water quality data. Students are introduced to the different units associated with each parameter. In their science classes, students discuss what the data means to the testing site. In their math classes, students analyze water quality data collected over an 8 year period and create line graphs noting any changes. Students make predictions on what caused the changes and are able to check some of them using farmersalmanac.com. Students use the expertise they have gained to facilitate younger students in collecting water quality data at Wetland Watchers Park.
LaBranche Wetland Watcher Swamp Sweep Community Clean-ups
Students choose an area in or near Wetland Watchers Park that needs litter picked up. The students organize a date and publicize for volunteers to come help clean-up. All volunteers fill out data sheets recording every item collected. Students create bar graphs with the collected data. Using this data, students attempt to target a group of people that are leaving the most trash behind (boaters, shoreline fishermen, picnic groups, campers, etc.) Students discuss ways that they can get information to these groups to make sure they know how their actions impact the areas that they depend on for recreation activities. Students create signs, brochures, avatar psa’s, and other forms of media with information concerning the impact of litter.
Wetland Watcher Outreach Presentations
Harry Hurst Middle school students share the knowledge they gain from their experiences in the wetlands with visitors at outreach opportunities all across southeastern Louisiana. Students create presentation activities, train to present wetland animals such as alligators, snakes, and turtles, and create presentation scripts based on facts they have researched. Students have spoken to over 450,000 visitors through outreach opportunities including science nights, Earth Day Celebrations, festivals, and environmental conferences.
The Traveling Shrimp Boot Project
White shrimp boots are a Louisiana staple. Often referred to as “Cocodrie Converse” or “Swamp Nikes”, these popular boots are more of a symbol of Louisiana than merely the boot shape. They represent the hundreds of millions of dollars worth of commercial fisheries that are dependent on Louisiana wetlands. Louisiana contributes a great deal of the nation’s commercial catch as well as other valuable resources. As part of this project, students paint the boots themed after what they love most about Louisiana. Students design activities to place in the boots that help students in other states realize how important Louisiana wetlands are to them and that the coastal land loss in Louisiana affects all of us – not just Louisiana residents! These boots will be loaned to classrooms throughout the United States. Participating classes will complete the provided activities and then use the included webcam to interview my students via Skype video conference calls. My students will answer questions about the wetlands and also ask questions about environmental issues the cooperating students may have in their area.
Louisiana History Wetlands GPS Cache
As part of their Louisiana History class, students study geologic and cultural history of our local wetlands areas. Beginning with the land formation nearly 5,000 years ago and the evidence of Native Americans nearly 3000 years ago, students create timelines and comparisons to other word events occurring at the same time. Students work together to check their facts and create concise historical reports to be hidden in areas related to the events. For example, one of the sites selected is a Native American shell midden dated at about 1200 years ago. Students use GPS instruments to mark the longitude and latitude of a hidden container containing the historical information for visitors to find and learn more about our local wetland areas.
Wetland Watchers Park Plant Identification Guide
Students have noted that many of the Identification guides that we use are based on a wide variety of wetland areas and much of the information is not related to our specific wetland areas. Students are working with the Louisiana State University Ag Center and the LSU Coastal Roots Project to collect and document plant samples from the area by taking pictures and cutting leaves to be pressed. Once the project is completed it will be checked by experts and then copied to be used by other area teachers who wish to bring their students out to Wetland Watchers Park.