For the more information about the geologic resources of the National Park Service, please visit http://www.nature.nps.gov/geology/.


Jean Lafitte BioBlitz:
Youth Ambassadors Blog

Jean Lafitte BioBlitz Youth Ambassadors
2013 Biodiversity Youth Ambassadors

Dara, Valyssa, and Parker are back as biodiversity youth ambassadors during the 2013 BioBlitz at Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve in Louisiana. This year they are joined by Caleb, the newest ambassador. Read about their experiences searching for life in the park below.


Jean Lafitte BioBlitz—Day 1

Opening Ceremony


BioBlitz opening ceremony
Opening ceremony

Dara
Today at the Pass the Torch ceremony I learned a lot of things. I learned that it is okay to be unsure of what you want to do in the future as long as you have a passion. If you don't know what your passion is, it will eventually come around. Once you have it, you will eventually find what you want in the future. I also learned that if you want to get anywhere in life and want to have a certain career, you must really want it and work hard. Also, always strive for the best.



Valyssa
What I learned today was that if you get offered a job in conservation that you didn't have as your first option, take it. It could lead to something better. If you're really passionate about the job you wanted go for it. If you work in conservation, the job is difficult but with hard work it's not impossible.

Parker
The morning was the most exciting part of trip yet. We counted down at the opening ceremony as well as worked with scientists to discover "the horizons of the future." I just came up with that obviously. Anyway, speaking with scientists has been one of my favorite things about past 2 BioBlitzes. The scientists, especially Bert, always have something to say about what they did to help me notice how they motivate people. More about that later.

Caleb
The opening was great. Talking with the scientists gave me the opportunity to ask questions about marine biology. I enjoyed hearing about the scientists' backgrounds and passions. This gave me the opportunity to learn about how to choose a field of study.

Day One Inventories


Searching for aquatic life
Searching for aquatic life

Dara
One of the inventories I did today was the aquatic invertebrates. We went on a boat out to the bayou and observed very interesting species like the turtles and white egrets. We used nets to find invertebrates like the invasive apple snail and its eggs, minnows, and spiders. I also saw a 12 ft alligator named Nosee. I learned to appreciate all species even if you are not that fond of them. My favorite part of today was finding the apple snails and getting closer to the other ambassadors.

Valyssa
The Search for Snails: Today we found an apple snail, little clear snail, fishing spider, dragonfly larva, crawfish, little baby shrimp, apple snail eggs, water beetles. We stopped three times to see what kind of invertebrates were living in the water and grasses. The most exciting part of the day was going into the bayou, and touching a spider (on accident!).


Parker
When discovering canals and bayous we came across many macroinvertebrates and bugs similar to last year in the creeks and rivers of Rocky!

Perhaps my favorite part was seeing how fast the little buggers went across the water. And the wind in your face as we whizzed down river, that was cool too. And I looked at the tiniest bugs in the water. It made me wonder how different they could all be as well as how small they were.

It amazes me how we walk over such little things that makes so much of a difference in the grand scheme of things. The DNA of all these tiny bugs deserve research so we could learn about our DNA. The colors, physical characteristics, and adaptability are all kept in that DNA,and might help all of biological science if we study it.

Caleb
I don't know about many people, but I love being on the water. This was my favorite part of the day. Many people visiting from other areas have heard about the Louisiana bayous and swamps. Today many of them were able to see them for the first time. The best part was the reactions from those who had never seen alligators before. We made our way through the water hyacinth and collected many minnows, water spiders, and even crawfish. It was fun to help people understand what is my home.

Day One Wrap-Up


Alligator
Alligator

Valyssa
My experience today was amazing and completely different from the Sonoran Desert where I grew up. It was different because we were surrounded by water. The aquatic plants and animals were a great new experience to discover. Both regions have lots of reptiles. The Sonoran Desert has gila monsters, desert tortoises and rattlesnakes. Today we observed alligators and turtles and I learned that the park has lots of snakes. The highlight of my inventory today was letting a clear snail crawl on my hand and letting a water spider walk on me. I can't wait to see what tomorrow has in store!


Jean Lafitte BioBlitz—Day 2

The second day of the BioBlitz...

Dara
On the second day of BioBlitz, I got to do the small mammal inventory. We used a way cool way of sampling by using a camera on a pole and using it to look into cavities of trees. One of our main goals was to find the southern flying squirrel. Even though we did not find one, we did get to observe other species and habitats like tree frogs, armadillo, scat and footprints of the wild hog. I also got to use the Project NOAA app where I got to take pictures of species I thought were interesting. I also got to use head cams to record what it is like going on cool inventories like this. My favorite part of the inventory was probably just walking in the woods and observing the world around me.

Valyssa
Today we went on a mammal inventory. We used cameras to see what's on the inside of a tree. We discovered that there's water in the tree. I also saw a dragonfly that had the colors of black and yellow.

Parker
This morning we went out on a small mammal survey in "Transect 1." This transect was 20 hectares big and was a survey area for this BioBlitz. When we searched across the transect for small mammals, we looked in hollows of trees that were either formed by a branch breaking or bore out by an animal. The southern flying squirrels live in these, an animal that has not been properly documented in the area, but is known to exist in neighborhoods. We hooked a camera on to an extender pool net stick and were able to see the cavities through a remote DVR system that allowed us to take pictures and record video. As we peered into trees, I found it cool that you could even see inside a tree, and that animals live there. The handheld camera that remotely connected to the "pole cam" allowed us to see what the average person cannot see. The anticipation of what we would see in each tree was the most exciting part. This entire process inspires me to think outside the box and be creative with my approach with nature. I want to organize a BioBlitz on my school grounds because of this experience.

Scientists using camera to look into tree
Using a camera to look into tree cavity

Caleb
Well, apart from the fact that we were in typical Louisiana humidity, it was still cool for May. We participated in the bird inventory in the early afternoon. There were many more birds than I expected for that time of day. We saw warblers, vultures, and cardinals. We heard many more than we actually saw.


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Last Updated: May 21, 2013