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Grant Extends Wetland Days Programming

Louisiana Sea Grant (LSG) is the recipient of a two-year, $92,000 National Academy of Science’s Gulf Research Program (GRP) Place-Based Education grant. The project, titled Wetland Days: Watershed-Based Enrichment Opportunities for Youth, is a continuation of LSG’s existing Wetland Days programming.

Photo: Mark Shirley at Wetland Days

COVID-19 restrictions and hurricanes prevented K-12 students from having field trips in 2020 and 2021. It also prevented LSG’s Engagement and Education team from participating in school events. But the team persisted knowing the value of hands-on, place-based learning by applying for grants to fund educational field trips in 2022. From that effort, more than 600 students from Plaquemines, Terrebonne, St. Bernard, Tangipahoa and Vermilion parishes participated in Wetland Days field trips close to their campuses. Lessons included engrossing hikes, aquatic ecology, native vs. non-native species, sediment cores and water quality sampling. Grant funding for that round of Wetland Days also covered student transportation to and from the workshops, as well as meals.

GRP funding will continue and expand Wetland Days to more than 1,000 students in St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes. Six workshops will be held annually. Principal investigator on the project is Dani DiIullo, LSG education and engagement director.

“We want students to explore their local, outdoor classrooms through hands-on investigations that mirror lessons they receive in the classroom,” said DiIullo. “And we want school systems to see that this time supports in-class instruction, not taking away from it. The connections the students can make between their classroom instruction and place-based learning are powerful and can really enhance their understanding of a subject — whether it’s science, math, social studies or English language arts.”

The National Academies’ Gulf Research Program is an independent, science-based program founded in 2013 as part of legal settlements with the companies involved in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. In supporting a safer, more resilient and sustainable future for the Gulf and all those who call the region home, the GRP uses science, engineering and medical knowledge to empower the region’s citizens and enhance offshore energy safety, environmental protection and stewardship, as well health and resilience. Additionally, the GRP believes that to use information to effect change, evidence-based policies will be supported through education and engagement, data, data products and knowledge.