Help Protect This Louisiana Barrier Island

Many Diverse Volunteer Opportunities Exist for Grand Isle

Volunteers with Seattle Academy. Debris removal on Landry-LeBlanc Tract after Hurricanes Katrina and Gustav.  Note, this debris is five years (5) years after the Hurricanes.

By definition a Volunteer is “one who offers oneself for service of one’s own free will”.  The Nature Conservancy of LA’s Grand Isle Field Office has been the recipient of such offers from volunteers who traveled from the Pacific coast, the Atlantic coast, and all points in between.  It is the volunteer spirit that repairs boardwalks, blazes trails through brush, removes storm debris and litter.  Volunteers have built work benches in the Grand Isle School BioLab where students grown native species of trees to be planted on both private and public lands.  They also help plant those trees.  Volunteers provide maintenance skills for small repairs at the office.  They lead groups of experienced and in-experienced birders through the nature trails on our 41 acres of maritime forest.


Volunteers leveled and repaired the Grilletta Tract boardwalk after Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike.  They have planted over 10 thousand trees, cleared over 20 tons of post hurricane debris from the forests, and removed hundreds of tallow trees from the Jean Lafitte Woods of Grand Isle.


All of these efforts are to restore and protect the habitat of this barrier island for the millions of migrating neo tropical songbirds that depend on a first and final stopover during the migration seasons.   Volunteers arrive with smiles and a will to get the job done; always, at their own expense expecting nothing in return but a “Thank You”.  Volunteers are a great factor in our quality of life…Thank You! 


Grilletta Tract Volunteer Experience at Grand Isle on April 4, 2009


My name is Debra Mogg, Administrative Assistant for TNC’s Northshore Field Office(NSFO) located in Abita Springs, Louisiana.  An appeal for volunteers to rebuild/restore the Grilletta Tract boardwalk resonated loudly in our office.  On April 4, 2009, my co-worker, Tom Kennedy, Bio-hydrologist, and I packed our families (Tom’s wife Niki with their two (2) young children and my husband, Mitch) to make the 3-1/2 hour journey to Grand Isle to participate in a “Shaw Group” workday.  We were an army of nine (9) volunteers on that day.  Including, two (2) Shaw Group employees, John Bourg and Joe Chauvin along with Shawna Herbst.  Shawna was one of TNC’s NSFO faithful volunteers also traveled from New Orleans to join the event.  This was Shawna’s last volunteer day with TNC of Louisiana because she would shortly thereafter move to Alaska.  We worked hard (approximately a six (6) hour work day) laughed a lot, ate a good nutritious lunch hand made by Jean Landry, had plenty of healthy snacks for energy, drank lots of cold water, sharing a common goal of bettering the boardwalk, and at the end of the day, we were successful in our mission of restoration!  As we were finishing our work, a group of approximately 25-30 birders from the New Orleans metro area walked along the boardwalk.  One of them was a former co-worker of mine, when I was employed in the legal field, who is a passionate birder.  I was able to share with Mary Ann, my new passion, The Nature Conservancy!  Our group knew that our work to TNC and Grand Isle was especially important because The Grand Isle Bird Fest would be held a couple of weeks after our workday and the boardwalk is an integral part of the birding experience.  Each time I have the opportunity to visit Grand Isle, I try to visit the preserves and walk the boardwalk; I am also captivated by this barrier island – not only its resoluteness to stay and protect Louisiana but also its industrious, hardworking people and incredible beauty.