“Fragile Grounds” Research Wins CRCL Stewardship Award

Fragile Grounds

Mary Manhein and Jessica Schexnayder were  awarded the Coastal Stewardship Award for their research on how sea level rise and flooding affect Louisiana’s cemeteries. 

BATON ROUGE – Jessica Schexnayder, retired communications coordinator for Louisiana Sea Grant, and Mary Manhein, former LSU Forensic Anthropology and Computer Enhancement Services, or FACES, Laboratory director, were recently awarded the annual Coastal Stewardship Award for their research documented in “Fragile Grounds: Louisiana’s Endangered Cemeteries” on how sea level rise and flooding affect Louisiana’s cemeteries.

“Fragile Grounds” compiles stories and photographs of endangered cemeteries throughout the state’s coastal zone and beyond, linking the fragile land to the frailty of the state’s threatened community structures. It highlights the state’s vibrant diversity as shown through its unique burial customs and traditions, while promoting the need for ongoing documentation of cultural elements at risk.

The book focuses on how coastal erosion, sinking land, flooding, storm surge and sea level rise have created an inland migration which threatens to unravel the fabric of Louisiana’s communities and, by association, hastens the demise of its cemeteries. 

Schexnayder, of Denham Springs, La., is a Louisiana native and is passionate about documenting the people, history and culture of south Louisiana. Her writing and photography have been featured by the Louisiana State Archives, Louisiana Cultural Vistas, Country Roads, Heart of Louisiana and Inside New Orleans.

Manhein, of Baton Rouge, La., is also author of “The Bone Lady: Life as a Forensic Anthropologist”; “Trail of Bones: More Cases from the Files of a Forensic Anthropologist”; “Bone Remains: Cold Cases in Forensic Anthropology”; and the mystery novel “Floating Souls: The Canal Murders.” Manhein retired from LSU in 2015 after a 30 year career in forensic anthropology.

The Stewardship Award, presented by the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, honors individuals and organizations who demonstrate outstanding commitment to the coast and have made significant contributions to the restoration and conservation of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands.


Additional Links:
23rd Annual Coastal Stewardship Awards: https://www.crcl.org/programs/stewardship-awards-banquet.html 

“Fragile Grounds: Louisiana’s Endangered Cemeteries”: http://www.laseagrant.org/2017/endangered-cemetery-book/ 




Contact Beth Carter
LSU Media Relations


Ernie Ballard 
LSU Media Relations