Members of the St. Joseph’s Academy Science Club planted 195 trees at BREC’s Scotlandville Park on March 11. The planting was part of LSU’s Coastal Roots program. This year’s planting involved mixed oak seedlings to help establish new trees in the park.
SJA students grew the seedlings in the school’s nursery, then transported them to Scotlandville Park for the planting. SJA Science Fair coordinator Linda Messina accompanied the group.
SJA was the pilot program for Coastal Roots, which began in 2000. There are now 52 schools in 20 Louisiana parishes and an additional four schools in Chile participating in the program.
Dr. Pam Blanchard, associate professor of science education at Louisiana State University and co-director of the Coast Roots Program, said this weekend’s effort was SJA’s 14th planting. “Over the years, SJA students have planted just over 5,400 trees and 1,800 spartina plants,” Dr. Blanchard said. “What an amazing legacy these students have left for the state of Louisiana. I’ve truly enjoyed working with Mrs. Messina and these committed students.
“I believe that each one of us is called to be stewards of our natural resources,” Dr. Blanchard added. “As I watched the students planting the trees, I witnessed them working hard, enjoying a good conversation and being outdoors, and I thought about how lucky we are to have members of a generation coming up behind us who understand how important the environment is to us and who are willing to take time to take care of it. I am hopeful that these students will remember these hours spent planting these little trees and will make choices as adults to continue to protect and be stewards of our environment.”
Senior Michele Chaky said she has thoroughly enjoyed her ongoing involvement with Coastal Roots. “I love helping the environment and getting involved in conservation efforts,” she said. “It has been a passion of mine since I was a child. Coastal Roots has helped me continue to fulfill my desire to help the world grow stronger and healthier. As I am a senior, this year was my last trip. However, I will continue my conservation efforts in college. I am forever grateful to Mrs. Messina and all her hard work and the opportunity to be involved in a program like this.”
Sophomore Anna Couhig said the tree-planting outing was a great experience. “I really enjoyed getting out into nature and feeling like I am contributing to the environment in a positive way,” she said. “I know that when there is an issue, most of the time I feel like I can’t do anything about it. This helped me to know that I can.”
Sophomore Priya Singleton said she was especially gratified to know she was giving something back to our planet. "For me, it was really important because it was our way as students to help give back to our community and to our earth that God gave us," she said. "This experience reminded me that it doesn't take much to make a difference. It only takes a person willing to give a positive attitude and their time to make a change in the world around them."
Senior Macie Serio said the new location of Scotlandville Park was a great addition to the planting program. "Knowing that the trees we planted will impact people in our nearby community really helps us to know we're making a difference," she said. "Here at SJA, we are so fortunate to be able to participate in a program like Coastal Roots that makes an impact worldwide."
"I had a great time at Coastal Roots planting trees with my friends," said junior Isabel Grandy. "It is awesome to have a club that is so dedicated to helping the environment. For the past three years, this has been my favorite thing we do in Science Club."
The students worked with Ray Lawson at Scotlandville Park. He expressed his extreme gratitude for their efforts. “I thank the SJA faculty, students and parents on behalf of BREC for allowing us to reap the benefit of the trees and the enthusiasm of the students,” he said.
Mindy Brodhead Averitt
Photos courtesy of Linda Messina
Date posted: March 13, 2017