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School of Environment and Natural Resources


ENR undergraduate shares service experience

April 28, 2023
A nursery with plants on top concrete block tables in New Orleans

The Ohio State University is dedicated to fostering a culture of engagement and service. Many of our students are engaged and serve in our communities.  Read about Ashley Malefant's spring break experience - engaging in ecosystem restoration and hurrican relief efforts. Ashley is majoring in environmental science in the School of Environment and Natural Resources.

Over spring break, I went on a Buck-I-Serve trip to New Orleans to help with a variety of service projects. A majority of our projects focused on ecosystem restoration and hurricane relief efforts. 

On Monday we worked with an environmental nonprofit group, Sustain the Nine, in the lower 9th Ward that focused on wetland restoration. They talked to us about the benefits of wetland ecosystems and their importance to New Orleans and Louisiana. It was very interesting hearing from them first-hand. Most people in the area are aware of climate change and the importance of wetlands because they provide a buffer from hurricanes. I helped clean up the non-profit's tree nursery and also helped to replant irises. Irises are native Louisiana plants and I found it very interesting how they act as natural water purifiers by absorbing nutrients and heavy metals out of the soil. Their extensive root systems are also good at holding the soil together which is one reason why they were planted. Another interesting project that we didn't get to participate in but learned about is their Christmas tree project. They had people drop off their used Christmas trees and the trees are placed in a local bayou a little bit from the edge to capture sediment and reduce erosion. When the trees degrade, they are also a good habitat for fish and other organisms. 

On Tuesday we worked with the nonprofit, Soul Nola, to plant trees in the residential neighborhood. New Orleans has the lowest tree cover of any city in the United States. This occurs because hurricane winds knock down trees which makes the wind impact stronger on the trees in the next storm, leading to even more trees getting knocked down. By planting more trees, Soul Nola hopes to decrease the temperature in neighborhoods and create more of a buffer against wind. In total, we planted 50 trees in one day. 


Nursery with tables of irisesBuck I Serve

Overall, the trip was very worthwhile and it was great to see some of the environmental topics I have been learning about in classes occur in real-world situations. The trip also made me realize how extensive hurricane damage is and the issues that are occurring in Louisiana because of them. 

Contributor: Ashley Malenfant