‘Coasting’ through summer

Marsh Maneuvers teaches local students about coastal protection

Starting Monday, July 23, four Webster Parish high school students took part in a week-long 4-H conservation camp on the Gulf of Mexico called Marsh Maneuvers.

Beth Clark, assistant extension agent at the local LSU AgCenter office, traveled with Dara Harvey, Solomon Bryant, Matthew Treece, and Shelby Francis to the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge in Grand Chenier for the camp, which is put on by the LSU AgCenter, Louisiana Sea Grant, and the Louisiana Wetlands Program.

“This is an opportunity that only comes to each parish every four years,” Clark said. “It’s a week learning about the Louisiana wetlands. We learned about the coastal environment and how to prevent erosion. We planted grass, fished, went crabbing and shrimping, and learned a lot about biology. It’s just a great opportunity.”

Francis, a senior at Minden High School this upcoming year, said she had been waiting nine years for a chance to attend Marsh Maneuvers.

“I’m the co-president of nature club at my school,” she said. “Nature is a huge thing for me. Conservation is what I want to do with my early life. So this was right up my alley.”

Harvey was less excited when she first heard about the trip, but she came around.

“It was honestly a life-changing experience,” she said. “At first I had second thoughts, but I took a chance and went for it. It changed my perspective on everything, and I’m even reconsidering my career field. This past week has shown me how important coastal protection is here in Louisiana. We can’t just have a plan – we need people to get up and do the work.”

Clark said she hopes each student left with a better foundation of understanding of the Louisiana wetlands and what citizens can do to prevent the erosion of the coast.

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