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20th Annual Ocean Commotion Held

Louisiana Sea Grant hosted the 20th annual Ocean Commotion on Oct. 24 at LSU’s Pete Maravich Assembly Center (PMAC). More than 2,000 elementary and middle school students participated in the one-day educational fair.

“Ocean Commotion is our program’s premier outreach event when it comes to elementary and middle school education,” said Robert Twilley, Louisiana Sea Grant executive director. “It never ceases to amaze me as students’ faces light up learning about our state’s coast and its importance to our nation.”

“It’s a great experience for the students,” said Dianne Lindstedt, LSG’s education coordinator. “Students have the opportunity to learn from professionals, but from each other, too. Typically, several exhibits are run by fifth to twelfth grade students, providing a wonderful opportunity to learn how important it is to communicate science and to embrace stewardship of our natural environment.

“Many of the students may have never been to the beach or even seen a swamp or marsh. This may be their first experience with seeing fish and other animals up close. It also benefits the presenters by highlighting how important it is to effectively communicate their work to all audiences.”

“Ocean Commotion is an interesting mix of ingenuity and total chaos, but that glow you see on the kids’ faces is what it’s all about,” said Alaric Haag, who was a volunteer at the first Ocean Commotion.

“Participating in Ocean Commotion as an eighth grader continues to impact me today,” said Rachel Ellis, now a junior and engineering major at LSU. “I loved learning about the diverse land and sea creatures native to Louisiana. The activities were hands on and some exhibits had skeletons, skins and life size replicas of real animals. It piqued my interest and left me wanting to learn more about the beauty of the environment and how to conserve it.”

Ocean Commotion offers students an opportunity to learn about a host of issues that range far beyond ocean-exclusive themes in a lively, hands-on learning environment. Topics include coastal marshes and wetlands, invasive species, local ecosystems, boating safety and Louisiana geology and wildlife. More than 60 presenters from private business, universities around the state, government agencies, and public, non-profit, and private educational organizations participate as exhibitors each year.

This year, three individuals and six exhibitors were honored for participating in every Ocean Commotion since the coastal stewardship fair was first held in 1998. Those participating for the past 20 years are:

  • Pam Blanchard, associate professor in the College of Human Sciences and Education. Blanchard also is an Ocean Commotion co-founder
  • Ron and Jackie Bartels with the Louisiana Chapter of Safari Club International
  • Dauphin Island Sea Lab
  • Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry
  • Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
  • S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • Safari Club International
  • LSU Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences

For video highlights from Ocean Commotion 2014, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=wssPVsxhFU8.

Photos from Ocean Commotion 2016 can be found at www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/albums/72157674586581202.