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Home > Current News > 2007

News: 2007

Marine Extension Agents Honored for Recovery, Conservation Work
Posted: 3/22/07

BATON ROUGE – Three Louisiana Sea Grant (LSG) Marine Extension/LSU AgCenter agents are the recipients of the 2006 Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea Grant Extension Network’s Outstanding Group Achievement Award for their response and continuing recovery work following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. One of the three also is the recipient of the 2006 Conservation Educator of the Year Award in the 43rd Annual Governor’s Conversation Achievement Recognition Program, conducted by the Louisiana Wildlife Federation.

The three receiving the Extension Network award are Albert “Rusty” Gaudé, associate area agent for St. Bernard, Plaquemines and Orleans parishes; Kevin Savoie, area agent and fisheries agent for the Southwest Louisiana Region; and Mark Schexnayder, area fisheries agent and hurricane program coordinator for Southeast Louisiana. Schexnayder also received the Conservation Educator honors.

The 2005 hurricane season brought unprecedented devastation to the U.S. Gulf Coast. Despite all three agents being displaced by either Hurricanes Katrina or Rita, they quickly returned to assist their constituents, most notably fishermen and local governments.

“They rapidly became critical points of contact, and their roles in this difficult process are certain to serve as models for other Sea Grant programs confronted with similar circumstances in the future,” said Mike Liffmann, LSG associate executive director. “Rusty, Mark and Kevin provided leadership, advisory and technical support to many of the responding agencies and nongovernmental groups involved in the recovery effort. They saw what others didn’t see and drove a direct path to what needed to be done.”

Among the trio’s recovery efforts were: soliciting a Marine Travelift from Valdez, Alaska, to get commercial fishing boats back into the water; aiding operators of critical seafood processing facilities in reopening; acquiring industrial ice machines to serve the needs of fishermen in Cameron, St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes; aiding in the relocation of a displaced Lake Pontchartrain Commercial Fishermen Association fleet; and storm debris marking and removal on Calcasieu Lake.

Many of their efforts are chronicled in a short documentary titled Sister Storms: A Louisiana Sea Grant Response. The film is available for viewing at www.laseagrant.org/comm/media.htm.

As Outstanding Group Achievement Award recipients, the trio will represent the Gulf region in a national awards competition. The national winners will be announced in the fall.

Schexnayder was honored with the Conservation Educator award for his pre-and-post-Katrina work in New Orleans City Park, among other efforts. Prior to the 2005 hurricane season, Schexnayder aided in the rehabilitation of the lagoons in the park and Bayou St. John. Following Hurricane Katrina, he coordinated volunteers helping restore the park to its pre-storm condition through plantings and debris removal.

Since its establishment in 1968, Louisiana Sea Grant has worked to promote stewardship of the state’s coastal resources through a combination of research, education and outreach programs critical to the cultural, economic and environmental health of Louisiana’s coastal zone. Louisiana Sea Grant, based at LSU, is part of the National Sea Grant Program, a network of 32 university-based programs in each of the U.S. coastal and Great Lakes states and Puerto Rico.

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