Volunteer Day at DRI2024 – Fighting Back Against Louisiana’s Land Loss

The DRI Foundation is excited to announce the Volunteer Day activities in conjunction with DRI2024, coming to New Orleans Mar. 3-6, 2024. This is your DRI Foundation at work — creating meaningful connections in our communities and engaging members of the resilience field in its mission with special volunteer opportunities in our conference host city of New Orleans, LA.

The Foundation and our indispensable volunteers will give back to New Orleans on Saturday, Mar. 2, working with the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL) on an important environmental project. 

Louisiana’s Land Loss

In recent years, dire predictions of catastrophic consequences have fueled Louisiana’s efforts to restore the failing coast. Comprising nearly one-third of our state’s land area and home to two-thirds of Louisiana’s residents, Louisiana’s coastal zone has been battered by hurricanes and reshaped to meet the demands of modern development.

Since 1900, Louisiana has lost more than 1 million acres of wetlands and barrier shoreline as a result of natural processes and human activity. Louisiana’s coastal wetlands stand on the verge of collapse. In the past 50 years, more than 1,500 square miles of coastal Louisiana have vanished.

Without immediate and decisive action, Louisiana stands to lose an additional 1,000 square miles of land, an area the size of Rhode Island, by the year 2050.

This land is not only an important habitat for fish and wildlife. It also provides an indispensable storm buffer for communities, transportation routes and energy infrastructure.

The Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL)

CRCL was Louisiana’s first statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to coastal restoration. It was established in 1988 by a small group of visionaries – including lawyers, scientists, anglers and members of the faith-based community – who saw the importance of the land loss issue before it was widely recognized by the public.

In partnership with local communities and over 2,000 volunteers, CRCL has constructed over 8,000 feet of oyster reef living shoreline protection with our recycled shells.

Two Volunteer Activities for Saturday, Mar. 2, 2024

While registering for DRI2024, interested volunteers can choose one of two activities, half-day or full-day.

Shucking, Jiving and Building (Half-Day) – You will help prepare the shell for future restoration by shoveling oyster shells into mesh bags to contribute to the next reef build project. Volunteers will also help clean up our shell pile and remove trash and plastics as we bag.

By helping prep the shell, volunteers will play a vital role in creating a new oyster reef that will allow for the growth of new oysters, create new fish habitat, and act as a wave break which will knock down storm surge and allow new land to build up behind the reef.

Riding, Planning and Building (Full Day) – You will take a boat ride to the Central Wetlands Unit  where you will plant Cypress trees to create a coastal forest. These forests reduce effects of storm surge and flooding, offer protection from hurricanes and safeguard local communities as well as improve water quality and create habitat for fish and wildlife.

Additional Volunteer Information

Here’s what our conference volunteers can expect:

  • Check-in will be at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside from 8:45 a.m. to 9:15 a.m.
  • Orientation speech and logistics discussion at 9:15, so please arrive promptly.
  • A boat ride (~20mins) will take volunteers from the Hilton to the project site. They must wear a life-jacket and follow directions from their boat captain (full day only).
  • Snacks, lunch, water, sports drinks and all necessary equipment (including work gloves, sunscreen, bug spray, etc.) will be provided. Please bring a reusable water bottle to cut down on plastic waste.
  • Volunteers MUST wear closed-toed shoes. CRCL will provide boots on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • We are currently unable to accommodate gluten-free volunteers. If you are gluten-free, please bring your own lunch. If you have a severe allergy that requires an EpiPen, please be sure to bring it with you.
  • CRCL staff members are wilderness first aid-certified. If you get injured during any activity, please report it to a CRCL staff member immediately.
  • DRI has defined the number of CEAPs (Continuing Education Activity Points) that can be earned by attending DRI’s annual conference. Not only will you receive points for attending our conference and sessions, but DRI also would like to encourage and recognize the volunteer work that you do! DRI Certified Professionals will earn 1 CEAP for each hour you volunteer.

If you have any additional questions or comments, I’m happy to answer them, and I can’t wait to see you this coming March!

Bonnie Canal, MBCP
Director of Volunteerism
DRI Foundation