Hurst Wetland Watchers filmed for national video

By Staff Report

May 26, 2009 at 2:23 pm  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Maddy Wegner, communications director for the National Youth Leadership Council, and Jana Larson Program Manager at Hamline University in Minnesota interview Associate Professor Dinah Maygarden the educator coordinator from University of New Orleans Pontc
Maddy Wegner, communications director for the National Youth Leadership Council, and Jana Larson Program Manager at Hamline University in Minnesota interview Associate Professor Dinah Maygarden the educator coordinator from University of New Orleans Pontc
Students who are part of Wetland Watchers, an environmental service-learning program at Hurst Middle School in Destrehan, are making both local and national news for their historic protection and reclamation of a 28-acre area in St. Charles Parish.

In April, they were one of three sites in the nation to be filmed for a teacher training video that will help other schools and school districts nationwide understand how to implement service-learning programs.

The National Youth Leadership Council, an education nonprofit based in St. Paul, Minn., is developing the video for schools interested in this teaching strategy that involves young people in applying their academic skills to community needs.

The video will be released in November and will initially be available to a national network of schools that practice service-learning, the Generator School Network.

“Wetland Watchers is one of the best examples of service-learning I’ve seen,” said NYLC President and CEO Jim Kielsmeier. “The students and their teacher have made significant impact on St. Charles Parish’s future through their reclamation work and ongoing stewardship of the area.”

Science teacher Barry Guillot began the program that now has more than 40 community partners about 10 years ago, when he recognized that getting students into their natural environment would both increase interest in science and have significant outcomes for the community.

“I am so excited to share our project with others across the nation.” says Guillot “I have been a huge advocate of service-learning. I am very proud that the partnerships that we have established across the community, the hard work of our students, and the support of our school system will be featured as a national model project to encourage other teachers to integrate service-learning into their curriculum. Service-learning projects offer students educational opportunities and academic applications that are not otherwise possible.”

To date, Wetland Watchers has had the acreage donated to the parish from the Pontchartrain Levee Board, have plans to build a 3,000-foot nature trail, have included over 14,000 students involved in environmental education concerning the flora and fauna of the area at Wetland Watchers Park, have spoken to over 300,000 other people through outreach events, planted approximately 3,000 trees, contributed significant data on water quality, and provided more than 80,000 hours of service to the wetlands.




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