Press Releases

The Water Institute of the Gulf, in collaboration with the MSA-West Starship Program, Awarded Community Restoration Project Funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

Oct 18, 2016

Baton Rouge, La — The Water Institute of the Gulf, in collaboration with the Mathematics, Science, and Arts Academy-West (MSA-West) Starship Program, has been awarded federal funding under the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for a project called “The natural classroom: Sustainable restoration and monitoring of Bayou Grosse Tête through community participation and curricula engagement,” which will focus on restoring 26 acres of suburban cypress wetlands along Bayou Grosse Tête in Rosedale, Louisiana. Students at the MSA-West Starship Program will participate in both the restoration and monitoring, including growing native trees and grasses, to gain applicable knowledge and field experience in environmental restoration. The principal investigator is Tim Carruthers, Director of Coastal Ecology at the Institute.

The Institute will work with the MSA-West Starship Program and a range of partners, including Forum 35, LSU AgCenter, Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center, United States Forest Service, and Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. The project prioritizes restoration and monitoring of Bayou Grosse Tête by clearing invasive plant species from the 26 acres, planting 180 native wetland tress and 1,080 native wetland grasses, in addition to assessing water quality and establishing a sustainable water quality monitoring program for six new sites. Continued monitoring will be carried out by students at the MSA-West Starship Program, continuing the ‘natural classroom’ concept.

“The goal of this project is to improve the overall condition of Bayou Grosse Tête while also educating bright young people on the importance of restoration, and developing their skills in measuring ecosystem condition,” said Carruthers. “In addition to facilitating partnerships, the Institute will provide support in approaches and methods for monitoring planning and implementation, and in assessment of data gathered through monitoring efforts. We are excited to work together with the Starship Program to improve the ecosystem condition of Bayou Grosse Tête.”

Joshua Danzy, director of the Starship Program, said, “In order to provide our students a project-based learning environment, we are encouraging them to take ownership in the natural classroom project. Our engineering students will design the hydroponics lab that will be utilized to propagate the plants during the restoration portion of the project. The natural classroom project will prepare our students for the 21st century by providing them the opportunity to conduct research and create innovative methods. The research and innovation developed by our students will generate new ways for scientists to reduce damages caused by pollution.” The Chief Academic Officer, Elvis Jr. Cavalier, said, “The Starship Program provides a fun, inspiring, and non-traditional learning environment that is immersed in technology for students who want science, technology, and math credits.”

About The Water Institute of the Gulf

The Water Institute of the Gulf is a not-for-profit, independent research and technical services resource for resilient coasts and sustainable water systems worldwide. The work of the Institute helps ensure livable communities and a thriving economy and environment. For more information, visit

About the MSA-West Starship Program

The Starship Program was specifically designed for students who want to excel in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics curriculum and plan STEM careers.  Students who attend the Starship Program are immersed in project and discovery-based learning activities that are designed to appeal and engage all learners.