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Louisiana Sea Grant Expands to Meet New Interdisciplinary Coastal Challenges

Photo: Dani DiIullo

Dani DiIullo

The Louisiana Sea Grant College Program is growing. In March, the new Department of Education and Engagement was added to build more integrated impacts in effective environmental literacy, outreach and education programs. The goal is for this new department to find greater synergies between existing departments and find new and impactful ways for Louisiana Sea Grant to continue to support its stakeholders.

The Education and Engagement unit will not be just a cross-cutting department, but a cross-connecting one. The challenges facing Louisiana are complex—a highly engineered landscape, rapid rates of coastal wetland loss, vulnerability to storms and flooding, fishing industries dealing with chronic and emerging threats—and require a concerted approach. This department will provide strong educational support and stakeholder engagement about issues facing our coast and research attempts to address these challenges.

The program will be managed by Dani DiIullo, who is no stranger to Louisiana Sea Grant. For the last five years, DiIullo has served as communications coordinator with the organization, overseeing and growing both the LaDIA (Louisiana Discovery, Integration and Application) research engagement program and the Watch the Delta Grow youth education modules. She has taught both in the classroom and in outdoor education; has worked with universities, state agencies, non-profits and museums.

“Dani has a strong ability to translate science to multiple audiences,” said Robert Twilley, Louisiana Sea Grant executive director. “She has worked with researchers, she has worked with agencies, she has worked with teachers. For Louisiana to meaningfully address its coastal challenges, we need people with experience working across multiple disciplines—and Dani has that experience.”

In this new role, DiIullo will oversee a staff of four to deliver many historically popular programs, while looking to expand into new opportunities. The new Department of Education and Engagement would continue promoting the long-term impactful programs such as Ocean Commotion, Coastal Roots, LaDIA, Watch the Delta Grow, EnvironMentors and field-based teacher professional development workshops. DiIullo will push to include new initiatives, including community science as a tool to enforce place-based engagement; providing new, innovative ways to support teachers given COVID-19 classroom challenges and expanding workforce development opportunities.

“Louisiana has the best coastal classroom,” said DiIullo. “We are surrounded by incredible tools to teach about wetlands, fisheries, water quality, geology, climate and engineering. I look forward to building these experiences into new environmental literacy and workforce development opportunities.”

Louisiana Sea Grant, based at Louisiana State University, is part of the National Sea Grant College Program, a network of 34 programs located in each of the coastal and Great Lakes states, Puerto Rico and Guam. Sea Grant programs work individually and in partnership to address major marine and coastal challenges.