Conservation Corps Exceeds Goals for Recruitment and Restoration Projects in 2008

Seventeen Student Leaders Complete an Extraordinary Year of Service

BATON ROUGE, LA – The America’s WETLAND Conservation Corps (AWCC) announced today that its members more than doubled their goals for volunteer recruitment and service projects in 2008.

“For the second year in a row, Corps members have not only met, but far exceeded our expectations,” said Val Marmillion, managing director of the America’s WETLAND Foundation. “I’m so proud of this program and of our members for doing such great work. The extraordinary success of this program is a testament to the fact that our young people are committed to serving their communities and helping to stop the loss of our precious wetlands.”

Seventeen full and half-time members concluded a year of service with the AWCC AmeriCorps program and received certificates of recognition at an event held at Lake Fausse Pointe State Park this weekend. These outgoing Corps members include: Lindsay Bordelon of Baton Rouge, David Templet Jr. of Gonzales, Sara Granger of Abbeville, Ashlee Marceaux of Kaplan, Amber Latiolais, and Shelley Martin of Carencro, LaTonya Stemley of New Orleans, Rosina Philippe of Port Sulphur, Gary Decossas of Arabi, Ashley Roach of Ruston, Natalie Hunsicker of Shreveport, Madalynn Watson of Converse, Phylicia Trichell of Lake Charles, and Jacob Bourgeois, Trevor Powell, and Gilbert Gonzalez Jr. of Thibodaux.

“When we added up all the numbers, we realized our Corps members recruited more than one thousand volunteers, worked more than 18,000 hours and completed more than 55 service projects last year,” said Hilary Collis, the AWCC’s program manager. “That’s more than double what we had hoped to accomplish! This is a great group of members who have become stewards in the fight to save coastal Louisiana. I congratulate them all for completing such an outstanding year of service, but am very sad to see them go.”

Through the AWCC, AmeriCorps members and volunteers engage in hands-on coastal restoration and recovery projects across Louisiana. By hosting vegetative plantings, restorative interventions, community-wide clean-ups and other activities throughout the year, the AWCC is working to rebuild our damaged and degraded wetlands, which serve as a critical line of for thousands of Louisianians and hundreds of billions in energy and environmental assets.

Home to dozens of threatened and endangered species and our nation’s largest flyways, America’s WETLAND is one of the most significant estuaries in the world. An amazingly complex ecosystem composed of swamplands, marshes and forests that span over 6,000 square miles of Louisiana’s coast, this region provides protection to hundreds of billions of dollars worth of property and infrastructure, produces 30 percent of the nation’s oil and gas, provides 30 percent of the country’s seafood and is home to the largest port system in the U.S. Despite its nationally strategic importance, this valuable landscape is vanishing at an astonishing rate of 24 miles per year.

The America’s WETLAND Conservation Corps is a partnership of the America’s WETLAND Foundation and the LSU AgCenter, which is supported by AmeriCorpSS , the Louisiana Serve Commission, and the Office of Lt. Governor Mitchell J. Landrieu.

AWCC Member Profiles by Region

Baton Rouge Area

Lindsay Bordelon of Baton Rouge- Bordelon is a sophomore at LSU. She received a grant to do research on how various wetland plants survive based on planting techniques and elevations along a coastal wetland restoration site. She also led a group of 20 volunteers to assist with restoring New Orleans City Park’s tree farm.

David Templet Jr. of Gonzales- Templet is finishing his first year as an AWCC member and has spent his year teaching wetland outreach education lessons in his hometown of Gonzales. He partnered with a local high school shop class to build wood duck boxes and then led a group of 15 volunteers to install the boxes around Spanish Lake in Ascension parish.

Lafayette Area

Sara Granger of Abbeville- Granger is finishing her second year as an AWCC member and the program will miss her enthusiasm and ability to adapt to any situation work throws at her. During her time with the AWCC she has organized pier cleanups for Forked Island Elementary School children along LA Hwy 82. They removed debris and decayed plant matter that had been deposited on the piers following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. They returned in 2008 to clean them again following Hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

Ashlee Marceaux of Kaplan- Marceaux served in both Abbeville and Baton Rouge during the 2008 AWCC service year. She partnered with the local high school shop class in Abbeville to build wood duck boxes and later led a group of volunteers out to the Vermillion River to install the boxes. She spent the summer helping the coastal-wetland themed summer camp “Marsh Maneuvers,” and is currently working on enhancing the wetland education track that is taught at 4H Summer Camp Grant Walker

Amber Latiolais of Carencro- Latiolais is finishing her second year with the AWCC program and her positive attitude will be missed next year. Amber has organized planting projects for volunteers at 4H Camp Grant Walker and has led volunteers to build and install wood duck boxes around her hometown of Lafayette, LA. Amber contributed as an author to the Youth Wetlands Program wetland curriculum binder taught lessons across her parish. She plans to utilize these skills this spring when she begins her new job as a high school teacher.

Shelley Martin of Carencro- Martin is completing her first year with the AWCC program and is also graduating from ULL with a degree in education. Shelley wrote lessons for the Youth Wetlands Program curriculum and plans to utilize the curriculum when she starts working as an elementary school teacher in the spring. She also organized volunteers with the AWCC member Amber Latiolais who helped with restorative plantings at 4H Camp and also building and installing bat boxes around Lafayette.

New Orleans Area

LaTonya Stemley of New Orleans- Stemley is finishing her last year at Southern University New Orleans. She led her daughter’s school group to clean up local parks in her New Orleans neighborhood, which will help reduce non-point source pollution and instill environmental stewardship among the students.

Rosina Philippe of Port Sulphur- Philippe has spent the last year serving in Plaquemines Parish and working in her native community of Grand Bayou. She has worked with hundreds of volunteers at the Woodlands Trail and Park in Belle Chase removing invasive plant species, installing wood duck boxes, and helping rebuild nature trails. She has also been an invited speaker at environmental conferences in New Orleans, Denver, and Portland.

Gary Decossas of Arabi- Decossas is a freshman at LSU and has split his year of service in Baton Rouge and also at his home parish, St. Bernard. He organized 10 4H Junior Leader volunteers to participate in a “trash bash” where they cleaned up litter along Bayou Bienvenue. He also led a group of 10 volunteers to build and instill Wood Duck Boxes at St. Bernard State Park.

North Louisiana

Ashley Roach of Ruston- Roach is finishing her second year with the AWCC program and she will be greatly missed. She has been an enthusiastic member become a favorite wetland outreach teacher in her hometown of Ruston and also at 4H Camp Grant Walker during the summer. She organized 8 volunteers to plant Baldcypress seedlings at Lincoln Parish State Park and has plans to lead a group of volunteers to install Wood Duck boxes around Ruston, LA at the end of January. She has also regularly contributed articles to her local newspaper on her work as an AWCC member and the importance of wetland conservation.

Natalie Hunsicker of Shreveport- Hunsicker is currently working on her master’s degree at LSU in Shreveport. During her first year with the AWCC program she has led over 40 volunteers to build and install wood duck boxes at Sciport Science Center in Shreveport, and she received a fellowship to travel to New Zealand to share information about Louisiana’s coastal restoration processes and learn about wetland conservation practices in New Zealand.

Central Louisiana

Madalynn Watson of Converse- Watson just finished up her degree in Louisiana Technical College in Many, LA. During her time as an AWCC member she led volunteers to clean up trash around North Toledo Bend State Park.

Lake Charles Area

Sharon Nabours of Sulphur- Nabours is finishing up her second year as at AWCC member and during this time she has been one of the programs most enthusiastic and inspiring members. She has organized hundreds of members to work on programs such as restorative plantings at Nibblet’s Bluff State Park and Holly Beach. She’s organized an environmental club called Green T.E.E.N.S. in Lake Charles that have marked storm drains and held trash bashes around the city. She has traveled all across the state to organize educational booths in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Thibodeaux, Shreverport, and Lacombe.

Phylicia Trichell of Lake Charles- Trichell recently graduated from McNeese University with a degree in Wildlife. During her time with the AWCC she has organized volunteers to assist with a tree planting at Jimmy Davis State Park and to pick up trash in her hometown of Jennings. She has worked with the Louisiana Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries to help reduce populations of invasive nutria and wild hog species.

Houma/ Thibodaux Area

Jacob Bourgeois of Thibodaux- Bourgeois is currently completing his second year with the AWCC program and has served both his hometown of Thibodeaux before transferring to Baton Rouge. Jacob has worked with over 100 volunteers on projects such as abandoned crab trap removal programs, building and installing sand fences, marsh restorative planting projects, and trash cleanups. He has also helped increase the AWCC programs partnerships by organizing projects with BTNEP, Coastal Roots, Sea Grant, and Nicholls State University.

Trevor Powell of Thibodaux- Powell is completing his first year as an AWCC member and has assisted with service projects in Thibodeaux and Baton Rouge. Trevor has worked with school groups that grow their own wetland plants for restoration projects, and he has organized a restorative planting project for community volunteers at City Park New Orleans.

Gilbert Gonzalez Jr. of Thibodaux -Gonzalez is finishing up his first year as an AWCC member and has had a great impact on his hometown of Thibodeaux, LA. Following Hurricane Gustav, Gil got involved with recovery efforts in Thibodeaux and Houma by helping with debris removal. He also has organized a “Trash Bash” for community volunteers at Port Fouchon that is scheduled for the first part of January.