State of the Coast: Louisiana’s Largest Coastal Forum

State of the coast

Louisiana’s Largest Coastal Forum

Blog by Addison ellis, crcl’s communications senior coordinator

August 18, 2023

In the 1980s, the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana became the state’s first organization dedicated to confronting coastal land loss. Recognizing the urgency of the situation, a group of concerned residents, scientists and community leaders came together to form the organization. Since that time, we’ve grown a lot. Our work continues today through initiatives like the Native Plants Program, Oyster Shell Recycling Program, Future Coastal Leaders and the State of the Coast conference (SOC).  

We concluded our seventh iteration of the conference in June 2023. SOC is held every other year in south Louisiana. For the past 13 years, it has been connecting people from varying disciplines and backgrounds with the primary focus of restoring and protecting Louisiana’s fragile coastline and communities. State of the Coast is the largest conference of its kind.

You might ask what makes State of the Coast so special. It comes down to knowledge sharing, collaboration and networking, policy development and advocacy, global perspective, education and public awareness, scientific advancement and accountability. 

Knowledge sharing: State of the Coast conference brings together community members, experts, scientists, policymakers, activists and stakeholders from various fields related to Louisiana’s coast. The conference provides a platform for the exchange of knowledge, research and best practices. Participants can learn from each other’s experiences and gain valuable insights into environmental issues and potential solutions. SOC serves a valuable role in elevating community voices in Louisiana’s restoration by bringing coastal leaders and coastal citizens to the same room.  

Art and artists across all mediums are important for telling the story of the coast. SOC works with local filmmakers to organize a dedicated film room throughout the conference. SOC2023 content also included a plenary speech and book signing with author Mike Tidwell, local photography and book signing by Ben Depp, and a poem excerpt from local artist and writer Ray “Moose” Jackson. We are looking forward to expanding the role of art throughout the conference in 2025 and beyond. 

Collaboration and networking: SOC facilitates collaboration among individuals and organizations working toward the same goal of a healthy and sustainable coast. SOC offers opportunities for coastal community members to build networks, establish partnerships and foster interdisciplinary collaboration. By connecting people with diverse backgrounds and expertise, State of the Coast promotes innovation and collective action for addressing environmental challenges.  

SOC hosts CRCL’s Coastal Stewardship Awards, where we honor Louisiana’s coastal heroes. In addition to community and student scholarships, CRCL and Sea Grant host the SOC Student Awards, where top SOC student presentations win cash prizes. 

John Day, CRCL founding Board Memeber posing with his art “Delta Doodles” at SOC2023.

Policy development and advocacy: The State of the Coast conference always engages policymakers and government representatives. These events serve as forums for discussing and formulating policies related to environmental protection, climate change mitigation, conservation, and sustainable development. SOC provides a platform for raising awareness and advocating for policy changes that can have a positive impact on the environment. 

One 2023 attendee said: “I love State of the Coast! It brought everyone into the same room to talk and learn about Louisiana!”  

Global perspective: SOC attracts participants from around the world, enabling a global perspective on coastal issues. This highlights the interconnectedness of environmental challenges and the need for international cooperation to address them. Louisiana is setting the precedent in the United States for coastal restoration planning and efforts, and SOC provides that forum for learning from the rest of the world. The conference contributes to the sharing of experiences and solutions across borders, promoting a unified approach to environmental conservation and sustainable development. 

Education and public awareness: State of the Coast not only supports professionals through continuing education hours, but also provides opportunities for students and the public to learn about environmental issues. Sessions, exhibitions and outreach activities help disseminate information, raise awareness and educate individuals about the importance of Louisiana’s coast and its conservation. These events can inspire and empower attendees to take action and make environmentally conscious choices in their daily lives.  

Scientific advancement: The State of the Coast conference plays a crucial role in advancing scientific knowledge and research. Researchers present their findings, engage in discussions and receive feedback from peers. This exchange of information contributes to the development of innovative solutions, technologies and approaches for addressing environmental challenges. SOC also serves as platforms for the publication of research papers and the presentation of cutting-edge advancements in the field.  

Monitoring progress and accountability: State of the Coast often provides an opportunity to review and assess progress made in achieving coastal goals and targets. It can serve as a platform for monitoring the implementation of major projects, such as those in the Coastal Master Plan. SOC allows for the evaluation of ongoing efforts, identification of gaps and discussions on strategies for improvement. 

Overall, the State of the Coast conference will continue to play a vital role in fostering collaboration, knowledge sharing, policy development and public awareness. It will serve as catalysts for action, enabling stakeholders to come together, learn from each other and collectively work toward a more sustainable and environmentally conscious future. 

On a personal note, I feel deep pride in helping to facilitate this forum and continuing the legacy of my predecessors. A lot of love and care goes into this space — from the internal planning to the knowledge that is being shared. Louisiana is lucky to have all these dedicated and passionate people who come together to create something incredible. The conversations we foster through this conference are laying the foundation for the rest of the country and for future generations.

The State of the Coast conference is made possible through state and nonprofit partnerships including the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, The Water Institute, Louisiana Sea Grant and the Restore the Mississippi River Delta.  

How has State of the Coast made an impact on your work? We want to hear your stories. Join the conversation on social media! Tag @crcl1988 and use hashtag #StateoftheCoastLouisiana to be entered in a drawing at SOC2025. 

State of the Coast is supported through sponsorship funding and partnerships. SOC sponsors benefit from extensive promotion leading up to and throughout the conference, recognition on materials and signage as well as their presence in the exhibitor hall, where we host several events throughout the conference. Custom sponsorship opportunities are available.

Help shape SOC2025!