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Silver Lining for Ocean Commotion

Ocean Commotion marks its silver anniversary in 2023.

Ocean Commotion StudentsOcean Commotion is a one-day, hands-on environmental showcase of Louisiana’s unique habitats. Now in its 25th year, it continues to offer students an opportunity to learn about coastal marshes and wetlands, invasive species, local ecosystems, boating safety, 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.

The coastal education event began as a project between the Louisiana State University (LSU) Office of University Relations and Louisiana Sea Grant (LSG). LSU wanted an event during the International Year of the Ocean that highlighted coastal and oceanic research and would welcome grade school students to the university.

That first Ocean Commotion in 1998 was held at the LSU Field House. More than 2,400 students and 374 teachers attended. In the early 2000s, it moved to the Pete Maravich Assembly Center (PMAC) and has been there every year since – apart from 2020 and 2021 when COVID-19 restrictions moved Ocean Commotion to a virtual event with 27 online exhibits which can still be viewed today at

“We came together to create a big science fair focused on the wonders of the sea and coast for those young children. I don’t believe anyone envisioned the event to be anything more than that one-time ‘commotion’,” said Pam Blanchard, associate professor in the LSU College of Human Sciences and Education, former LSG education coordinator and Ocean Commotion co-founder. “Kudos also go to the myriad of LSU researchers who provide exhibits year after year, and the non-profits and governmental agencies who patiently explain how cool and important our coast and sea are to Louisiana citizens. It’s a big commotion for all the right reasons.”

Photo: Ocean CommotionMany exhibits are run by students, providing an opportunity for near-peer learning. “It’s a great experience for the students,” said Dianne Lindstedt, another LSG former education coordinator. “Students have the opportunity to learn from professionals, but from each other, too.”

Ocean Commotion provides many students the opportunity to experience habitats of Louisiana that they may have never been to – which includes the coast, a swamp or marsh. This may also be their first-time seeing fish and other animals up close. The event also benefits exhibitors by highlighting how important it is to effectively communicate their work to all audiences.

Exhibitors that have been involved since the beginning are still coming 25 years later, demonstrating a fantastic commitment to Louisiana students.

Current Sea Grant Education Director Dani Dilullo is excited for this year’s event. “We are honored to carry on the long tradition of bringing coastal exhibits to the students. And this year’s theme — Coming Full Circle — reflects this lasting commitment. Over the 25 years, we have seen students mature into volunteers, teachers and exhibitors. What started in the Field House has grown to an annual event that has a long-lasting impact for thousands of students.”

The lingering effects of Ocean Commotion prove that it is truly an event worth continuing. Anyone interest in learning more about Ocean Commotion is invited to visit