INSPIRING LOUISIANA’S NEXT GENERATION OF COASTAL WARRIORS
Through an exciting new educational initiative called “The 300,” the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana – Louisiana’s largest and oldest coastal advocacy organization - engaged high school juniors and seniors, and teachers from throughout Louisiana in a series of coastal experiential learning opportunities.
“The 300” inspired our next generation of coastal warriors and encouraged some participating students to pursue the coastal sciences in their post-secondary education. Others were inspired to seek professional opportunities to protect and restore our coast. At a minimum, the effort created a more informed and inspired coastal citizenry committed to stabilizing and preserving our coastal cultures and communities.
Each participant took part in four coastal learning events throughout Spring 2018. Each event included an initial orientation with presentations from coastal experts and leaders, followed by hands-on experiential learning events in March, April and May, including a visit to the Louisiana Legislature in Baton Rouge, a marsh planting at Freshwater Bayou in Vermilion parish, and a trip to the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Lake Borgne Surge Barrier in New Orleans.
We kicked off the first event Tuesday, March 6, 2018 at the Center for Coastal and Deltaic Solutions in Baton Rouge. The program is dubbed the “The 300” partly as a nod to 300th Anniversary of New Orleans, which is becoming more and more a coastal city, and to signify that we are working to inspire Louisiana’s next generation of coastal warriors.
The day-long event began with a welcome from CRCL Executive Director Kimberly Davis Reyher, followed by presentations on coastal issues, harnessing the power of the Mississippi River, and a visit to the newly opened LSU Center for River Studies and the Lower Mississippi River Physical Model.
To finish the program, all participants were invited to the biennial State of the Coast conference – the nation’s largest conference focused on coastal Louisiana – for a culminating event on June 1 that featured a special program agenda for “The 300.”
Student participants enjoyed rich and memorable learning experiences and met other students with similar interests from throughout Louisiana. Teachers discovered deeper context and practical aspects of the coast to bring back to the classroom to benefit even more students. Field trips were conducted in groups of 50 participants per outing.
The program was open to any school that wanted to participate provided resources were available. We concentrated our recruitment efforts in southeast and southwest Louisiana. Each participating school designated at least one teacher to take part. Most schools had one teacher joining five students to create a unit of six participants from each school. However, other student to teacher arrangements were accommodated. Each participating school determined how students were selected for the program.
We had a diverse group representing 11 parishes and 22 schools, and one homeschool group.