In recent years, UNO’s Institute for Environmental Sciences opened the Shea Penland Coastal Education and Research Facility (CERF) (located next to Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge), serving as a site for each professional research and student education about coastal Louisiana. One of CERF’s chief prerogatives has been connecting all levels of research and education — among scientists, educators and students — pertaining to the economic and social sustainability of the state’s coastal regions.
“One of our major goals with our coastal education program is to raise awareness and increase people’s knowledge and understanding about coastal Louisiana — all of the issues related to coastal Louisiana — coastal land loss, ways in which we might solve some of those problems with coastal restoration projects,” says CERF manager Diane Maygarden. “Over the years, I’m starting to see that this program, in addition to many other programs around the area, are really starting to produce people who are interested in careers that are related to our coast… So gradually, I think we are increasing that understanding on a larger level — just by continuing to reach out to different groups and starting with young students and repeating the message as they get older and giving them different experiences.”
Austin Bergeron, a student in the Department of Film and Theatre at the University of New Orleans, speaks with Maygarden about CERF and its importance to each our community’s eco and educational systems.