Meraux Charitable Foundation donates $100,000 to educational initiative in St. Bernard: Class Act

Ever since the Docville Farm in Violet was designated as an educational center, the Meraux Charitable Foundation has worked hard to create opportunities for students and teachers from across the parish and the Greater New Orleans area. Now, the Foundation has announced that it will donate $100,000 over the next three years to support the Waters to the Sea Mississippi River Delta Educational Initiative in St. Bernard Parish.

The initiative will offer professional development experiences for St. Bernard teachers and enrich learning for students through a focus on Mississippi River delta education. The initiative will include three elements: a three-day Mississippi River Delta Institute for educators to be held each of the next three years at Docville Farm, an interactive multimedia learning program about the Delta’s natural and cultural history, and a teacher exchange program between St. Bernard Parish public schools and two school districts in the Minneapolis, St. Paul area.  The first event supported by the Meraux Foundation funding will be a three-day Mississippi River Delta institute in June 2015.

Meraux Foundation board members Bill Haines and Chris Haines announced the pledge recently while attending the 24th anniversary celebration of the Center for Hamline University’s Global Environmental Education (CGEE) in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Chris Haines said he is excited by this new partnership. “I attended my first Rivers Institute in Minnesota two years ago, and last summer a delegation of educators from St. Bernard accompanied me to experience the world-class program,” Haines said. “At that time we committed to establishing a Delta Institute in St. Bernard that would be modeled after the experiences we had at CGEE’s Institute in Minnesota. Today’s pledge further cements our relationships with partners and stakeholders in the headwaters region.”

The teacher exchange program will continue in St. Bernard Parish next summer at the Delta Institute at the Meraux Foundation’s Docville Farm in Violet. That event will include a delegation of teachers from Minnesota and, in subsequent years, from elsewhere in the U.S.

Tracy Fredin, CGEE director, said these professional development experiences will elevate St. Bernard’s position as a center for education on river deltas.

“CGEE’s Rivers Institutes are field-based courses that address the natural overlap between science and other subjects using rivers as the context,” she said.  “St. Bernard Parish and the Arlene Meraux River Observation Center at Docville Farm offer an ideal location for educators to study river systems, including deltas.”

Bill Haines said he looks forward to the educational collaboration that will be an integral part of this exchange.

“The Mississippi River Delta Institute will be an excellent resource for St. Bernard Parish teachers, and it will attract educators from across the country to experience all that the parish has to offer,” Gue continued.

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