July 15, 2020 New Orleans, La.
The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) would like to express our sincere gratitude to these organizations for their donations that have allowed us to construct the LICI's iris holding area in the Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood of New Orleans:
Friends of Louisiana Wildlife Refuges The Meraux Foundation The Native Plant Initiative of Greater New Orleans
1) The Friends of Louisiana Wildlife Refuges, Inc. is made up of dedicated community members who magnify the power of conservation efforts and help the national wildlife refuges in Louisiana meet conservation goals that would otherwise be out of reach.
They do this by donating hundreds of volunteer hours and raising money for our local refuges. In the process, Friends help engage the people of the area in wildlife conservation, improve access to outdoor recreation and strengthen relationships between refuges and their neighboring communities.
Friends of Louisiana Wildlife Refuges, Inc.
Just like at many regional US Fish & Wildlife refuges across the country, local Friends of the Refuge members lead tours, staff refuge visitor centers, organize wildlife festivals, sponsor photo contests, operate nature shops and help organize habitat restoration and trail maintenance projects. Their annual October "Wild Things" festival brings in thousands of people to the event at the Lacombe, La Southeast Louisiana US Fish & Wildlife Service's headquarters complex.
2) The Meraux Foundation is a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was established by Arlene Meraux to benefit the community of St. Bernard Parish by leveraging its landholdings.
From their website: "When Arlene Meraux founded the Meraux Foundation, she asked her niece, Rita Gue, to manage it with a simple guiding principle: to ensure that the land resources that Arlene transferred to the Foundation would be used to improve the quality of life in St. Bernard.
The Meraux Foundation
The Foundation's Docville Farm has over 130 acres designated as an educational learning center that hosts art series, workshops, and a number of community events, such as LSU’s AgMagic on the River. One of the many buildings on the Docuville Farm campus is a greenhouse that, in addition to raising plants, it serves as a learning resource for K-12 students throughout the year. It has become a highlight of AgMagic on the River, an annual event the Meraux Foundation hosts to link Louisiana’s agriculture and environment with people’s everyday lives.
“We continue to build out Docville Farm so that it can better meet the needs of the community. Beyond hosting events and providing space for community dialogue, the farm is a hub for positive growth — now both literally and figuratively!” says Gue.
"The foundation's Coastal and Environmental Initiatives range from outreach to schools in St. Bernard to prepare students for jobs in the growing field of coastal restoration to engaging stakeholders in efforts to protect the coast and respects the way of life in St. Bernard," Gue adds.
Blaise Pezold joined the Meraux Foundation a few years ago as Coastal and Environmental Program Manager to spearhead the nonprofit’s ever-expanding plans to protect, preserve, and restore St. Bernard Parish’s rapidly disappearing coast. He is LICI's contact person with the foundation.
3) The mission statement of the Native Plant Initiative of Greater New Orleans (NPI) is very straightforward; "To increase the use of native plants in our area by expanding public awareness of their ecological benefits, boosting availability, and by preserving and creating native plant communities." This is accomplished with educational efforts, including public plantings of wild flowers, the NPI's regularly held meetings and special seminars that they organize.
Native Plant Initiative of Greater New Orleans
The NPI also join forces on projects with other groups that are working to preserve or restore native Louisiana plants. That's where the Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative's work comes into play. One of the proposed projects is to reintroduce the native Louisiana iris species I. giganticaerulea to the swamp at the Lockport Elevated Wetlands Boardwalk in Lockport, LA.