Monday, March 25, 2013

Explore-A-Swamp Workshop

Explore-A-Swamp Workshop Participants
Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge
March 23, 2013
The first of four Louisiana Environmental Education Association statewide workshops happened at Black Bayou Lake NWR on Saturday, March 23.  Fourteen of us explored the bottomland hardwood forest at the edge of Black Bayou Lake on a cool spring morning.  It was a gray day and the light was subdued, but mosses, lichens, ferns, and liverworts glowed rich and green beside the nature trail.  We had our notebooks handy to write down our observations of the day.  We noted the many adaptations of plants and animals in this wetland.  For example:  overcup acorns float so they can disperse in high water, trees in the wetland can tolerate water around their roots for a limited amount of time, cypress trees can not germinate in the water so they must have dry conditions to do so, spanish moss is not moss but a bromeliad - a flowering plant, and many fish reproduce in the rich ecosytem of the backwater.  Birds were busy in the thickets and we heard many calling especially the tufted titmouse and the Carolina wren.  Miriam Norris, a self-taught butterfly expert, informed us of the declining numbers of monarch butterflies.  This disturbed us all and we discussed the importance of small patches of flowering and host plants that can be used by migrating butterflies.  Gay Brantley, a retired ranger/naturalist from U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, reminded us not to purchase cypress mulch and support the destruction of cypress trees in Louisiana wetlands.
I was happy to give each participant a copy of my book "Swamper, Letters from a Louisiana Swamp Rabbit" and my husband, Kelby's book "Bayou-Diversity, Nature and People in the Louisiana Bayou Country.  Since literacy across the curriculum is an important part of the Common Core Standards I hope that these books will be of use to educators.  Each participant made a pair of Ecology Vocabulary gloves, which is a "hands-on" (pun intended) activity that I developed to give students a visual clue to important science words like biotic, abiotic, habitat, and niche.  After making the gloves I told the group that they were now all official "Environmental Educators".  It was a great day.  If you are interested in attending one of the three other workshops, please check the website:

Thanks to LEEA for providing funds for this training.


  1. This was a wonderful workshop. So much fun and I learned so much to bring back to my students. Seeing the refuge awaken with spring leaves and visiting it with people who love nature and know so much about the swamp made this a wonderful day.

    1. Lisa, I loved visiting your students at Cherokee Elementary last week. They were attentive, well behaved, and total enjoyment. Amy