Nicholls responds to gulf oil spill

THIBODAUX – Nicholls State University is offering several services in response to the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Dr. Quenton Fontenot, associate professor of biological sciences and coordinator of the marine and environmental biology graduate program, said Monday that the university administration has granted permission to provide space at the University Farm for a temporary, animal rehabilitation center. Administrators have already notified the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries that the facility is available if needed, and area veterinarians have been alerted that their voluntary assistance might be required. Fontenot said the rehab area will include an arena barn as well as two, 12-foot circular tanks suitable for marine life.

The Louisiana Native Plant Initiative, which operates in part at the Nicholls Farm, is also providing post-oil spill aid. Fontenot said 3,000 mangrove plants stand ready for coastal restoration. Plus, university personnel are preparing a couple of acres at the Farm for the cultivation of additional, locally adapted coastal plants.

“Biology faculty and student volunteers will soon be making trips to the coast to retrieve plants, so that we can increase their abundance,” Fontenot said.

In addition to scientific aid, Nicholls is providing linguistic assistance. Marilyn Gonzalez, assistant director for international student services, said Monday that BP recently requested the services of a Nicholls employee or student who can communicate with the Vietnamese population on the Louisiana coast. Senior multinational business major Linh Nguyen agreed to fill the temporary position, which could last until the end of the summer, Gonzalez said.

“Linh is a very strong student with high academic standards,” Gonzalez said. “She is fluent in both Vietnamese and English, and she will prove to be a valuable asset in her new position.”

Nguyen was recognized as the university’s top international female scholar at the 2008 International Students Banquet.

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