Réveillon will raise funds for first public nature trail in parish

Hot air balloon ride, luxurious hotel stays just some of the many items that will be auctioned off at event

November 20, 2008 at 9:01 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

The first public nature trail and outdoor classroom in St. Charles Parish will move one step closer to reality with “A Wetlands Réveillon,” which will help raise money for coastal preservation and reclamation projects.

The gala will be held on Dec.7 and will include entertainment by Amanda Shaw and the Cute Guys. There will also be a silent auction of over 50 unique items, such as luxurious hotel stays, jewelry, swamp tours and a ride in a hot air balloon.

All proceeds from the dinner fundraiser will go towards the construction of the public nature trail and outdoor classroom, which will be located in the LaBranche Wetland Watcher Park in Norco. When finished, the trail and classroom will provide students, residents and tourists with an opportunity to learn about the coastal issues the region faces through firsthand experience.

“In St. Charles Parish, we have some of the most beautiful areas of wetlands in the state, but we do not have any public nature trails to make them easily accessible,” Barry Guillot, Harry Hurst science teacher and founder of the Wetland Watchers, said. “The nature trails will allow all members of our local families to explore deep into different types of wetland areas together without having to wear hip boots.”

Along the trail, there will be learning pads with interactive activities, interpretative signage and self-guided tour pamphlets with facts about the area.

“Families, teachers, students and tourists will be able to take relaxing walks while learning about and experiencing a wetland ecosystem firsthand that has meant so much to Louisiana’s culture and history,” Guillot said.

The entire event was coordinated by students that take the Hospitality and Tourism Pathway at the Satellite Center. This pathway is made up of students in the Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Administration class and the Culinary Arts class. Food will be prepared by students in the center’s Culinary Arts program, as well as local chefs and restaurants.

“Basically, Patrick Phelan, the Culinary Arts facilitator, and I wanted to find a project that would get the students involved,” Craig Howat, the Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Administration facilitator, said. “We wanted the project to support a good cause, and the students voted and chose to help the wetlands.”

Hahnville student Courtney Jones, who is the marketing chair of the event, says that deciding to use the gala to raise money for the wetlands wasn’t a hard choice.

“Like Mr. Guillot says, the wetlands make Louisiana what it is,” she said. “It’s very important for us to do everything we can to preserve them.”

Jones and her classmates have been very busy planning the event and finding both sponsors and gift donations.

“It’s been a lot of work, but this is an experience of a lifetime,” she said. “We have had to contact sponsors and we have a donations committee that has gotten gift cards from 5-star hotels. It’s just going to be a really fun night.”

The Wetland Watchers is a service-learning program that was started in 1997 to immerse students in science while learning about the value of the wetlands.

Over the years, the Wetland Watchers have participated in tree planting, water quality testing and litter removal and have also adopted 28 acres of land in the parish, which is now designated as Wetland Watcher Park.

For six straight years, the program has been recognized as an American Leadership Model Project by the Lieutenant Governor’s Louisiana Serve Commission.

Tickets to “A Wetlands Réveillon” will run $35 and cocktail attire is required. The event, which will be held at the Jerusalem Shriners Temple, will begin a 6 p.m. and last until 9 p.m. To purchase tickets, or to get more information about the event, call (985) 785-2080 ext. 3038 or email info@awetlandsreveillon.org.


View other articles written Jonathan Menard

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