Students from several New Orleans high schools have been competing in a friendly community service competition all this month of January. The schools participate in Mission Ignition, a program coordinated by Hands On New Orleans and the United Way Volunteer Center to encourage teens to get involved in their communities. Students are encouraged to attend as many service projects throughout the month to rack-up service hours and represent their school with pride.

On Saturday, January 28th, 30 volunteers collectively from Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Riverdale, and Patrick Taylor High School arrived at The Barataria Preserve- one of the six sites of The Jean Lafitte NHP&P- to trim overgrown palmettos on The Plantation hiking trail and pull invasive plants.

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 The palmetto bushes on the preserve tend to overgrow into the hiking paths, and without trimming maintenance, the leaves of the palmettos could swallow up the pathway. We want to encourage visitors to stay on the hiking trail when they venture out to the preserve, and volunteers help us maintain these paths for continual enjoyment.

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(Above) Volunteer from Ben Franklin High trimming palmettos with a pep in her step and a smile on her face.

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(Above) SCA CVA intern, Brianna Sims, directing her group of volunteers to trim palmettos that have overgrown into the preserves’ designated picnic areas.

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(Above) Volunteers pulling down invasive climbing fern.

The invasive climbing fern is terrorizing the native trees in The Barataria Preserve. In the picture below, you will see just a few of many piles volunteers managed to pull off of the trees along the Barataria Hwy. Thankfully, the invasive vines have not moved deep into the vegetation; we mainly see the climbing fern on the outskirts of the preserve.

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Above, you can see that most of the leaves of the climbing tree fern are dormant this time around, but it is still a mission to extract the vine itself to ensure a proper removal of the invasive.

Collectively, the volunteers worked about 90 hours for their day of service at The Barataria Preserve. Thank you to Rangers Aleutia, Kaylee and Stequeshia for helping CVAs Brianna Sims and myself, Kim Samaniego, make this service event a success!

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