Daily archives "April 11, 2016"

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Missing New Orleans

It’s strange to think that just a few short weeks ago, our class was spending the last few days of our Spring Break trudging through the muck and mud of the Woodlands Conservancy trails recording data and counting species. This experience has been one that I will never forget, and not in the stereotypical sentimental way that sounds, but in a real way. I feel like I helped do something during my time in New Orleans.   

We planted gardens for people who don’t have access to fresh food, we helped construct tubs for an organic farmer who provides food in a place that is widely known as a Food Desert, and we contributed to data that is changing the way people look at deforestation and invasive species. We got to experience true New Orleanian traditions. I am lucky enough to have experienced all of this with people I have grown close to in a way that I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to.       

I learned about a city and a culture that I never would have been able to learn about if it wasn’t for this trip. I’m 26, and I’m graduating this semester. I am engaged and plan to get married in a few years. Without this class, I really doubt I would have ever been able to come to New Orleans and I know for a fact I would never have had such a rich experience.

Okay, maybe I’ll never forget this trip exactly in the stereotypical sentimental way it sounds. There’s something to be said for an experience like this one, though, and I think I’m justified in feeling this way. 

Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?

Looking Back

Posted from Camarillo, California, United States.

About 3 and a half weeks ago my classmates, or should I now say friends and I got on a plane to New Orleans and arrived in Louisiana on Saint Patrick’s day.  We were all excited to explore, learn, and give back to the community of New Orleans.  We all began the class knowing very little about the Hurricane Katrina and the city and people of New Orleans and returned with a much deeper understanding of the impact Hurricane Katrina had on lives of the people of New Orleans and the city itself.  Being back now and reflecting on everything that I experienced and learned  in New Orleans I can truly say that I am much more appreciative of home.  Getting to first hand see how the lower ninth ward has not fully recovered from Hurricane Katrina despite it now being almost a little over a decade after the levees in New Orleans failed was very heartbreaking. However, I found comfort in realizing how optimistic the people of this community are about the future and how alive the diverse culture in New Orleans is despite everything that this community has experienced; I find peace in knowing that through this course I was able to contribute and help  the people of New Orleans though our involvement with community food gardens and our Woodland Trails restoration and vegetation work which plays a part in conserving the wetlands of New Orleans which provide a large ecological service and acts as green and blue infrastructure against natural disastrous such as Hurricane Katrina. While the work that we did was helpful and meaningful it is also important to realize that there is still a lot more work to be done in New Orleans and I definitely plan to go back and contribute even more.

There truly is no other place as unique and as alive as the city of New Orleans.  Being back now family and friends ask what New Orleans is like but the truth is that they don’t know “what it means to miss New Orleans” it is a place one must visit and experience first hand.  The food, people, music, and culture that exists in New Orleans no other city in the U.S. or the world can offer , it is a place like no other and I cannot wait to go back. This is experience and city is one that I will treasure in my heart and memories forever.  My short time in New Orleans defenitly helped me grow as a person.  It is by far my favorite college experience and memory thus far.







Reflective Post

This service internship class to New Orleans was another experience. I don’t say that to diminish it’s effect more that another has come and gone and I am a changed person because of it. I was introduced to this class when the famous Dr. A came into my History of Economics of North America class and with so much passion and enthusiasm he sold me on the class. I always wanted to go to New Orleans but they way in which Dr. A is so passionate about everything New Orleans, from the food, the culture, the environmental impact, to the rich history it inspired me to want to be apart of that experience. As everyone knows I’m not an ESRM or biology major but instead a business and economics so for me this was a “for fun” class but more for me to broaden my horizons and view this amazing place from a completely different vantage point than the business perspective.

It’s very different going from the profit side to the labor side of things. I view myself as a hard worker but the time we spent in New Orleans challenged me in that aspect and I know for myself that the work we did is good in small doses but definitely not for a career. I respect my professors and the students I went with that do wish to pursue this kind of work for their careers all that much more because again I couldn’t do it all the time. I think it’s also important for people of my major to realize how hard others work because it will most likely be us who hire others to do work and we need to have an understanding of what goes into a job. So instead of just viewing things as “just business” or by the numbers and we can see the blood, sweat, tears and in this case mosquito bites goes into the finished product.

Though this was a “cheap” way to see New Orleans I paid with those blood, sweat, tears and mosquito bites and I’m very happy I did. It made this experience so much more worth it and I gained a small family which is priceless. Wherever my fellow students end up I wish them the absolute best. Dr. A is known for talking, a lot, but I respect how much passion and energy he puts into everything and his last speech that he left us with really inspired me. Though politics are scary at the moment (a mad man is the front runner for the Republican party) Dr. A said we have to stay connected and that we can’t let that negativity win. We are the agents for change and we have to stay connect and not become bitter, against all odds. Though we may be poor college students at the moment we have the luxury to attend college and afford amazing experiences such as NOLA so in fact compared to most of the world we actually are apart of the 1%. With that comes power and responsibility and we need to use this power for the better and change the world for the good. As much bad as there is in this world there is good and more importantly hope. Even in the darkest room light can get in even if it’s only a sliver and though our efforts in New Orleans maybe miniscule I hope that we will see the much needed change that needs to happen in our lifetime.

With that I leave pictures of my NOLA family:














Auf Wiedersehen NOLA

What it means to miss New Orleans

Posted from Camarillo, California, United States.

We have been back from New Orleans for about two weeks now, and life has somehow returned to normal routines and busy schedules. However, taking the time to reflect on my experience in New Orleans reminds me how much IMG_6311I have grown from this trip. It’s one thing to learn about a place via photos and lectures, but to really learn about a place you have to go there, talk to the people, and experience the culture, history, politics, and landscape. New Orleans is really such a unique place, everything about it is different than what I am used to. Seeing the powerful Mississippi River, salt water eroded marshes, swamps, and Cypress trees made me appreciateIMG_6430 a new kind of ecosystem. Seeing coastal erosion and extreme wetland loss was very eye opening to me.
Spending time in the Woodland Conservancy reemphasized the importance of conservation. All of these realizations made me happy to be an environmental science major, and I am excited to take what I have learned in this program and apply it to helping important areas like New Orleans.

Building food gardens was also a very eye opening experience for me. Sometimes you take advantage of having easy access to food, but not everyone has that luxury. It was rewarding to be able to help build these gardens and take part in giving a community access to food that we normally take for granted.IMG_6289

Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience in New Orleans. Dr. Anderson really did an amazing job at teaching us about every aspect of New Orleans that you can think of. The most important thing I learned from this trip is to never stop asking why. I learned it is crucial to always stay engaged with what is happening in the world, and even though it may seem impossible, everyone can make a difference.

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Posted from Camarillo, California, United States.

IMG_1651Taking a week to reflectIMG_1656
ect back on New Orleans has made me want to go back and do it all again. This was one of the best trips I have ever been on. It was definitely a cultural experience. Before going to NOLA, Dr. Anderson gave many presentations to prepare us. I always got a different image in my head of what New Orleans looked like. From the French Quarter to the Lower 9TH Ward and how hurricane Katrina destroyed many of the districts.

Everything about New Orleans was amazing. The one thing that stuck with me the most was the levee tour because we really got to experience how tragic Hurricane Katrina was. We started in the Lower 9th and walked right up to where the levee had broken. We stood in front of a big concrete wall. Imagining the water coming over that and breaking the levee seemed unreal. It was very emotional because in the lower 9th we still saw houses run down from 10 years ago. It looked as if it happened yesterday. We saw houses slowly being rebuilt. One thing that was very upsetting was learning about the flood insurance. It can take people years to start building because in some cases you have to find the original owners home paperwork. It was sad to imagine the struggles people are still having today.

After visiting the levee, we drove further into the lower 9th. I didn’t think it was possible to get flooding way back there. We stopped at an outdoor museum garden walk like thing that gave a storyline of Hurricane Katrina. Yet another emotional experience. At the garden walk there was a metal post and at the top there was a sign that showed the height of the flooding. It was around 6’5”. Next to it was an abandoned house. It was very depressing. There was a hold in the roof, a car seat in the house, and just a lot of junk shredded throughout.

Final Reflection

Posted from Camarillo, California, United States.

Well we have been home from our trip for about two weeks now and I find myself really missing New Orleans and its people. Although this trip was exhausting it was also incredibly rewarding. One takeaway from this trip is the increased experience in conducting real-world data collection in the field. Constantly cutting our way through thorny blackberry bushes at the Woodland Conservancy was tough but we were rewarded when we collected some useful data for Dr. Anderson, not to mention the occasional adorable armadillo sighting. It was fun and interesting to look at the ratio of native vs. invasive plants in this protected area. We quickly got the hang of plant identification which really got me in the habit of looking at every plant around me, everywhere I went. I remember when we were getting an orientation at one of the community gardens we volunteered for and as I looked around I noticed the two trees right above us were a water oak and a mulberry. I felt pretty proud of myself for recognizing plants outside the field work. Doing the work at Woodlands Conservancy really made me think about the major I have chosen and how happy I am to be pursuing a career where I can do this type of work for a living. I am very happy I chose environmental science for my major and I can’t wait to utilize my skills after graduation.


The community garden work was also very rewarding. I feel confident knowing all the hard work we put into these gardens are for a good cause. So many people in New Orleans do not have access to healthy food, or they can’t afford it. The gardens we worked on were created specifically for people with limited access to healthy food. Two of the gardens we worked on were already established so we just helped by pulling weeds, laying down mulch, and picking ripe food. However, we also spent an entire day creating an entire garden starting with just an empty plot. We spent hours tilling the land and picking out the grass from the turned soil just to prepare the plots for planting. Finally, after all that we planted over a dozen different veggies. It was a lot of hard work for all of us but in the end we built an entire garden for a man with a physical disability who never would have been able to do himself. Not only does he benefit from this food but so do his neighbors, all of which live in tiny mobile homes and do not have great access to food like this. All of our work gardening has really inspired me to look into gardening at my own house and study what plants grow best in what areas.


While the field and garden work were truly inspiring, experiencing the cultural side of New Orleans was just as impactful. Every time someone talks about New Orleans they talk about the food, music, celebrations, voodoo, etc.  Before going, I knew all of those things were part of the culture, but I never would have truly understood them had I not spent time in New Orleans. Never have I been to a place with such a prevalent and rich culture. I don’t often visit places with such a long and remembered history. Our cultural experiences involved: shopping in a farmers market, then cooking Creole dishes with that food, listening to several local musicians, exploring French Quarter, and visiting a historical museum. It was so interesting learning about the history of the land and getting to talk to people who experienced one of the worst disasters of our time, hurricane Katrina. As we explored the city we saw more and more devastation caused by the hurricane from almost 10 years ago. It was insane how prevalent the storm still was to the land and the people. I am so grateful for the opportunity to go to New Orleans and help out the local community and study it from an environmental perspective. I really hope to visit again in the future and I wish much luck to the students who attend this trip in the future.


Trip Reflection

It’s been a couple weeks since the team returned from New Orleans, and for me personally, it’s given me some time to reflect on the entire trip. First and foremost, this trip hands down was the most rewarding trip I have ever been on. I cannot thank Dr. Anderson enough for giving me the opportunity to partake in such an incredible experience. 

New Orleans is an incredible place, full of diversity, history, and culture. Having this unique blend which is made up of its’ people, music, and cuisine, New Orleans definitely won my heart. It was a trip that was over in the blink of an eye, and I think I can speak for the entire team in saying that we were sad to leave when it came time to head back to California. 

Dr. Anderson did an incredible job in making sure we got a full taste of what New Orleans had to offer in everything we did. From our service-learning work; to the people we met; to the places we went, we were able to see all sides of NOLA, both the good and the bad. 

I believe our blog does a fantastic job of showcasing the work we did, and the places we went, so I won’t go into super detail of everything we did. But I will say my most favorite aspect of the trip was the service-learning work we did. From our transects at the Woodland Conservancy, to our community gardens and farms at Capstone and Grow Dat, we were doing our part to help this amazing place and its’ people. Which was most rewarding for me. 

Dr. Anderson (CSUCI), Dr. Huggins (UCLA), Dr. Lambrinos (OSU), and Dr. Patsch (CSUCI) were a phenomenal faculty team, which added to the overall experience of the trip. I cannot wait for the day when I can return to New Orleans, hopefully to continue working with these faculty members.

Here’s to a fantastic trip, full of many memories that’ll last a lifetime! NOLA 2016!