World Wetlands Day….The Students’ Way!

By Wendy Dew

The students at Hurst Middle School think protecting their wetlands is a yearlong job! The LaBranche Wetland Watchers is a school-based service-learning project primarily funded through a grant from the Louisiana Lieutenant Governor’s Learn and Serve America Commission. Over 35 separate partnerships with local, regional, state, and federal agencies, universities, non-profit foundations, local businesses and international corporations also play an integral role in the success of this project.

Each year, over 1100 fifth, sixth, and seventh grade students attend service trips to the adopted site in the Bonnet Carre Spillway. Throughout the school year, students plan and participate in activities such as water quality monitoring, macro-invertebrate collection and identification, litter clean-ups, soil and plant identification, and tree planting. This year students have focused on creating what will one day be the first public nature trail in the region. All service activities are tied to required academic standards in each of their core subject areas.

Students who participate then use what they have learned to guide other fifth and sixth graders on wetland trips each year. Over the last six years, students have spoken to over 45,000 adults and students about wetland conservation during outreach events. Through education, service, and awareness, students are leading a community effort for wetland conservation.

Wetlands are areas where water covers the soil, or is present either at or near the surface of the soil all year or for varying periods of time during the year.

February 2 is World Wetlands Day and May is American Wetlands Month.

For more information about wetlands

About the author: Wendy Dew is the Environmental Education and Outreach Coordinator for Region 8 in Denver, Colorado.

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