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NOLA 2023 Reflection

Before I came on the NOLA trip I did not know what to expect. I was nervous but excited knowing I would be traveling to a new state to help out the community as an environmental scientist. Reflecting now after those 10 days have ended I can say it was one of the most challenging but fulfilling experiences I have had so far. It was rough as we were outside for the majority of the time no matter if it was raining, hot, humid, or cold because we were there to get as much restoration done on limited time. This trip was fast paced but I enjoyed seeing all the places we saw and learning about New Orleans culture, it’s food and it’s people. Everyone was so welcoming and took the time to tell us their story and thanked us for the work we provided for them.

The part of the trip that really tested me physically was when we did transects at Woodlands preserve. I was not prepared at all for that type of work. It was definitely an eye opening experience as we had to go through bushes and bushes of blackberry vegetation covered in thorns. Being out there until the sun set was very draining especially when the mosquitos would come out in the evening. I have never been bitten by that many mosquitos ever. But even after all that there were times when I would stop what I was doing and I would just take in the moment and appreciate the nature around me. It really grounded me and gave me the motivation to keep on going knowing that the work I was doing was going to benefit this area for many years to come. I’m really thankful I decided to come on this trip as this is my last semester here at CSUCI. I learned so much and I will definitely take these experiences with me after I graduate and in my future career.

BBQ Dinner at Woodland Plantation

When our team visited Woodland Plantation – A Country Inn we were greeted by Foster Creppel who is the owner of this establishment. He had a few tasks assigned for our team to help him with around the property. I was assigned to help with removing weeds from areas that had been planted by the NOLA team from last year. After an hour or so of work our team gathered and took a little tour around the property. I was amazed by the beautiful natural aspect of the area and was fascinated with the alligators that live on the property. After the tour we headed back to have dinner as they had prepared a traditional New Orlean’s BBQ dinner for us. It consisted of Jambalaya, salad, crawfish boil with sausages and corn and for dessert some bread pudding. This was my first time trying Jambalaya which is a cajun rice dish with various spices that contains sausage, chicken and shrimp as well. The crawfish reminded me of shrimp and was tasty as well. To finish it off the bread pudding was just as tasty and I recommend anyone to try it if they have the chance. This dinner was the perfect treat after a day of hard work!

Building Aquaponic Systems

Today our NOLA team traveled to the Lower 9th and were welcomed by David Young a retired police chief who founded a nonprofit community farm called Capstone. In this location he grows vegetable gardens and fruit trees for this community as food is limited. Our main task for the day was to build two aquaponic systems where catfish will be kept to grow more plants and vegetables. It was interesting to learn that in aquaponic systems the fish and plants work together in a symbiotic relationship where the fish waste provides all the necessary nutrients for the plants to grow while the plants purify and filter the water for the fish making this a self-sustaining closed system that requires minimal maintenance.

To create these foundations we used cinder blocks and glued them down with liquid nails. These foundations were a rectangular shape that had five levels in height. It was a challenging but rewarding task because these systems will now be in place for many many years and will help the Lower 9th ward.

Aquaponic Systems

New Orleans Pre Trip Reflection

The thought of visiting New Orleans next week has me feeling a variety of emotions. First of all I am very excited that I will have the opportunity to experience a totally different environment than what I am used to. This will be my third time traveling out of the state but my first time traveling via airplane. I am quite nervous about that because I do not know what to expect. I’ve heard how hectic things get at the airport so I am hoping everything goes smoothly. I can’t wait to see the view once we are on the airplane as it has always been something I have wanted to see and experience.

Once we arrive to New Orleans I just want to learn about its culture, history, cuisine, and the stories of the people who live there. I’m thrilled to begin helping the community any way I can. I know it will be challenging and tiring but at the end I know it will all be worth it. I’m just happy I have the opportunity to go on this trip on my last semester here at CSUCI.