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Grant to fund Grand Isle clean-up, art exhibit

THIBODAUX – Calling community service a “vital tool in shaping the moral character of students,” University of Louisiana System President Randy Moffett awarded $5,460 to Nicholls State University on Friday, Dec. 5, to fund a project to remove litter from the beach at Grand Isle State Park.

The grant will also help fund a debris database for the park as well as an exhibit of marine debris sculptures that will inform the public about Louisiana’s litter problem and the negative impacts of marine debris on ecological processes.

“This project will give our students the opportunity to see firsthand the amount of debris that is deposited on our coast,” said Dr. Quenton Fontenot, associate professor of biological sciences, coordinator of the marine and environmental biology graduate program and co-principal investigator for the Grand Isle project. “Our students will participate in a real-world program that educates the public about the scale and problems of litter.”

Additional project administrators include Dr. Allyse Ferrara, principal investigator and associate professor of biological sciences, and co-principal investigators Trisha Zeringue Dubina, instructor of art; Dr. Gary LaFleur Jr., associate professor of biological sciences; and Michael Williams, assistant professor of art.

Williams said the art exhibit will be part of the syllabus for his sculpture class in fall 2009, following the beach sweep for debris.”The product will be a physical manifestation that comments on the problem of pollution,” Williams said.

Moffett made the presentation of the third round of Learn and Serve grants at Nicholls during a regular meeting of the Board of Supervisors of the UL System. The awards are part of a $1.2 million Learn and Serve grant secured by the system in 2005. The grant, along with university matching funds, brings the total ULS financial commitment to service learning to $2.4 million over a three-year period.

Moffett presented more than $130,000 to the eight ULS campuses Friday for projects ranging from cyberbullying and environmental education to disaster preparation and outreach to Louisiana’s growing Hispanic population.

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