This past weekend found me in Baton Rouge at the state-sanctioned Environmental Educators’ Symposium. I was invited to sell copies of my book, Before the Saltwater Came and the companion Guidebook for Educators, and to talk to educators about wetland education every opportunity I could.
What I didn’t expect was to meet a teacher named Barry Guillot who started an organization called Wetland Watchers about fourteen years ago at a middle school just a couple parishes east of here. I had heard of him before but had never met him nor seen his kids in action.
The Wetland Watchers had their own exhibit tables set up to educate us about some of the animals they help take care of as part of their classroom activities, among other things, like naming all the pelts and animal furs pictured above.
These middle school children were about as well behaved as any I’ve ever seen. With about two dozen of them present, I only saw two chaperones. They were cordial, knowledgeable, and ready to educate every person that walked by.
Below are some of the animals that they were teaching about. Some of them are native, some of them are not.
In addition, they had about four species of turtles native to the wetlands. There were interactive educational guessing games set up. My favorite was “match the scat”, which I think is self explanatory!
Mr. Guillot is one of those exceptional and innovative educators that seems to find endless resources, writes amazing grants, and just doesn’t take no for an answer when it comes to getting these kids what they need to keep them dedicated to this program.
He was a great inspiration to me, making me also wonder if somewhere in this parish there might be such a dedicated, foresighted, and energetic educator. What better place to have a middle school or junior high group of kids dedicated to learning all about, caring about, and spending time in their own wetlands than this parish?
The book sales were a little slow this weekend, but it was worth the trip just to have interacted with these students and to have met Mr. Guillot. Personally, I want to thank him for his tireless dedication to his students and their wetland education.
Packing my bags,