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Home > Communications > Newsroom > 2007


Louisiana Sea Grant Extension Agents Receive National Recognition
August 30, 2007

Three Louisiana Sea Grant Extension/LSU AgCenter agents are the recipients of the Superior Outreach Award from the national Assembly of Sea Grant Extension Program Leaders (ASGEPL) for their response and continuing recovery work following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

The three receiving the national award are Albert “Rusty” Gaude’, associate area agent for St. Bernard, Plaquemines and Orleans parishes; Kevin Savoie, area agent and fisheries agent for the Southwest Louisiana Region; and Mark Schexnayder, area fisheries agent and hurricane program coordinator for Southeast Louisiana. In March, the trio received the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea Grant Extension Network’s Outstanding Group Achievement Award.

“Their work is a magnificent example of what a few dedicated Sea Grant people can accomplish working in a Sea Grant fashion – addressing a critical need in a timely, professional manner, and enlisting and involving multiple agencies and citizens’ groups,” said Jack Thigpen, ASGEPL chair. “What distinguishes their work from the other truly excellent nominees from the Sea Grant network this year is that the Louisiana project was conceived, started, and carried out while the agents themselves were in extremis due to the personal impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on them.”

The 2005 hurricane season brought unprecedented devastation to the U.S. Gulf Coast. Despite all three agents being displaced by either Hurricanes Katrina or Rita, they quickly returned to assist their constituents, most notably fishermen and local governments.

Among the trio’s recovery efforts were: soliciting a Marine Travelift from Valdez, Alaska, to get commercial fishing boats back into the water; aiding operators of critical seafood processing facilities in reopening; acquiring industrial ice machines to serve the needs of fishermen in southeastern and southwestern coastal parishes; aiding in the relocation of a displaced Lake Pontchartrain Commercial Fishermen Association fleet; and storm debris marking and removal on Calcasieu Lake.

Many of their efforts are chronicled in a short documentary titled Sister Storms: A Louisiana Sea Grant Response. The film is available for viewing at www.laseagrant.org/comm/media.htm.

“The agents were innovative and adaptive in their methods, particularly since the world as they and coastal residents had known it had been shattered by the storms,” said Thigpen. “The significance of their effort is two-fold. It has profound implications on the ability of the commercial fishery and coastal communities to rebound in Louisiana. It also is a working demonstration of the significance of Sea Grant extension work.”

The Assembly of Sea Grant Extension Program Leaders facilitates communication and interaction among the Sea Grant Extension programs and with others in and outside of the Sea Grant network, and improves the delivery of science-based information to constituent groups at the local, regional and national levels in support of the Sea Grant mission.

Since its establishment in 1968, Louisiana Sea Grant has worked to promote stewardship of the state’s coastal resources through a combination of research, education and outreach programs critical to the cultural, economic and environmental health of Louisiana’s coastal zone. Louisiana Sea Grant, based at LSU, is part of the National Sea Grant Program, a network of 32 university-based programs in each of the U.S. coastal and Great Lakes states and Puerto Rico.

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