September 15, 2020 — Thibodaux, La. — The Barataria-Terrebonne Estuary Foundation (BTEF), the fundraising arm of the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program (BTNEP), was recently awarded $9,845 by the Bayou Community Foundation to launch a “Trash Free Waters” campaign for Bayou Lafourche.
BTNEP team members will be working with Nicholls State University’s Assistant Professor Nicki Boudreaux and her Public Relations Campaigns class to develop a 6-month long campaign to include billboards, signage, advertisements, videos and social media content aimed at educating the public about the necessity of keeping Bayou Lafourche clean.
“These types of service learning opportunities are such a win-win for both our students and the area non-profit organizations we are honored to work with. This partnership will provide real-world public relations experience for senior mass communication majors while also providing BTNEP with top-quality strategic communications materials they can be proud to implement,” said Nicki Boudreaux, Assistant Professor of Mass Communication, Nicholls State University.
The campaign will be fueled by data retrieved from BTNEP’s annual Bayou Lafourche Cleanup, which has been held for the past 10 years, with over 1,000 volunteers each year. During those 10 years, volunteers have removed over 2,000 tons of trash from the bayou and its banks per year, and each trash item removed has been documented. Items documented have included tires, toilets, lawnmowers, refrigerators, bicycles, and more.
Bayou Lafourche meanders 106 miles from the Mississippi River in Donaldsonville down to the Gulf of Mexico through Ascension, Assumption and Lafourche Parishes, and over 300,000 residents rely on Bayou Lafourche for fresh drinking water.
“Bayou Lafourche touches everyone in this region every day by supplying fresh water. By protecting this water supply, we protect our health. We want the residents of this area to be aware that what they throw in the bayou, goes into their drinking system,” said Alma Robichaux, Education/Outreach Coordinator, BTNEP. “Education is the key to this problem. We cannot clean up our way out of this mess, it must be prevented.”
BTNEP will use the data on the trash collected for the past 10 years, and compare it to the data collected at this year’s Bayou Lafourche Cleanup following the “Trash Free Waters” campaign to measure the success of the 6-month project.
“Our hope is that this campaign will educate the residents that rely on Bayou Lafourche for drinking water of the importance of clean water, and in turn that they’ll stop dumping trash into our bayou — ensuring safe drinking water for all,” said Dean Blanchard, Interim Program Director, BTNEP.
For more information about BTNEP and the on-going projects happening in the Barataria-Terrebonne Estuary, visit btnep.org.