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Whale Shark Tagging Expedition Deemed a Huge Success

Release Date: 09/21/2011

Whale Shark Tagging 1
Whale Shark Tagging 2
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Effort represents the largest number of individuals tagged at one time in the northern Gulf

(Sept. 21, 2011) - The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in a collaborative effort with several fisheries-based agencies, successfully tagged 10 whale sharks during two recent trips in the Gulf of Mexico.  This represents the largest number of whale sharks tagged at one time in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

The tagging effort is a joint venture between the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, National Marine Fisheries Service, Mississippi Laboratories, Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, On the Wings of Care and LDWF.  The team is hoping the project will reveal precious information about the little-studied fish.

“Historical information on whale sharks in the northern Gulf of Mexico is lacking,” said LDWF Assistant Secretary Randy Pausina.  “We’ve had great success with many other fish tagging ventures and hope that this effort has similar results, providing a wealth of data to assist in the conservation of this species.”

Despite being the largest fish in the ocean, the whale shark is one of the most elusive animals to scientists due to their offshore, nomadic existence.  They are extremely difficult to find outside of a few known seasonal hotspots; therefore, obtaining data on this species is extremely challenging and expensive. 

“If the tags stay on for a significant amount of time, we will learn a great deal about how these sharks use the waters of the northern Gulf of Mexico, as well as where they go in the winter time, which is still a mystery to us,” said Dr. Eric Hoffmayer, a Research Fishery Biologist with NOAA Fisheries Service, who has been studying whale sharks in the northern Gulf for 10 years.  “It is still unclear whether whale sharks are residents in northern Gulf waters or simply seasonal migrants from the Caribbean Sea or beyond.  Hopefully the data acquired from these tags will shed some light onto this research question.”

One of the most accurate and useful tools for studying whale shark movements is telemetry, which involves attaching satellite transmitters to the sharks.  Other behavioral information beyond the shark’s movements can be inferred by assessing oceanic and physical conditions around the shark. 

The satellite tags provide temperature and depth data every 10 to 15 minutes as well as an estimated position each day for the duration of the tag.  The deployment periods for these tags ranged between four to 12 months.  In addition to the standard satellite tags, three position tags were also deployed, which send real-time location estimates to the satellite when the shark surfaces and the satellites are overhead.  These tags should report for up to six months. 

Funding for the satellite tags was provided by the International Foundation for Animal Welfare and World Wildlife Fund. 

“Another important factor contributing to the success of this project and our whale shark research over the years has been the participation by the public in our Whale Shark Sighting Survey,” said Jennifer McKinney, Research Technician with the University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory.  “After receiving several reports from the offshore community about whale sharks in region, we mobilized a trip to conduct the tagging.  Due to public participation, we knew exactly where to focus our efforts and therefore had great success.”

The Whale Shark Sighting Survey can be found at  The survey has been an increasing success over the years, in which the general public has been actively involved in the whale shark research program through their participation. 

For more information about this species, please reference the following: Whale Shark Fact Sheet

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana's abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at on Facebook at or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.

The mission of the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory is scientific discovery related to coastal and marine resources, development of new marine technologies, and the education of future scientists and citizens.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. For more information, visit us at, join us on Facebook at or follow us on  Twitter @usnoaagov.

Bonny Schumaker with On the Wings of Care, a non-profit agency, has provided aerial support for whale shark tagging trips since 2010.

For press inquiries, contact Ashley Wethey at (225) 765-5113 or Kim Amendola at (727) 551-5707.

WEEKLY eNEWS: Upcoming Events, Grants, Resources, & Volunteer Opportunities

A Compilation of Environmental Education News from Across Louisiana 


National Hunting & Fishing Day Outdoor Festival (September 24 – 9 am-3 pm)
Louisiana Game & Seafood Samples, Outdoor Exhibitors, Fishing Contest, Canoeing, Sports Shooting, Archery, Bowhunting Demonstrations, Fly Casting & Tying Demonstrations
FREE Admission & Parking!
Waddill Wildlife Refuge, 4142 North Flannery, Baton Rouge, La
Presented by: Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries, Louisiana Wildlife & Fisheries Foundation
Sponsored By: The Advocate, American Awnings, Associated Grocers, Coca Cola, Sam’s Club
Please see attached flyer.

Sally Ride Science Festival (September 24 – 11 am-4:15 pm)
Former NASA Astronaut Wendy Lawrence will talk about her thrilling path to a career in science and her time spent in space during the highly anticipated keynote presentation! Presented by ExxonMobil, the Sally Ride Science Festival includes: discovery workshops for girls, which may be given by local veterinarians, astronomers, microbiologists and more; workshops for parents and teachers on ways to support girls' interests in science; a street fair with booths, hands-on activities, food, and music.
Festival will be held at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA on Saturday, September 24 from 11:00am to 4:15pm. Advanced Registration Required: Registration open until Thursday, September 22nd at 5pm Central - Fee: $20. While our festivals are primarily focused on encouraging 5th-8th grade girls to pursue their interests in science, everyone is welcome to attend! Sign up now at or call us at 1.800.561.5161.

Explore-a-Seashore - Shark Fest (September 30-October 1)
The Gulf Coast Research Lab in Ocean Springs, MS is introducing a new program for families (adults and their children over the age of 12). Explore-a-Seashore will take place on September 30 (classroom intro) and October 1 (research cruise) and will engage participants in GCRL research: Catch – Tag – Release – You are the scientist and THIS IS SHARK FEST!
Application and more information are available at
Contact:  Martha Brown,, 228-818-8833

Recycle-Bowl School Competition Information (Deadline: October 10)
Keep America Beautiful’s Recycle-Bowl competition for elementary, middle and high-school students was created to increase school recycling participation and teach students about recycling and environmental responsibility. The Competition Division is open to all U.S. schools. The competition runs from October 17 through November 12, culminating around America Recycles Day. The first 1000 schools to register in either the Competition or Open Division will receive a recycling toolkit loaded with recycling posters, a library book, a curriculum, activity booklets and a recycling “coach” t-shirt. Other downloadable educational resources can also be found on At the close of the four-week competition, the school in each state that collects the most recyclable material per capita will win $1,000. A national champion will then be chosen from among the statewide winners to receive an additional grand prize of $2,500. Registration is currently open through October 10th on the Recycle-Bowl website at The inaugural Recycle-Bowl is being sponsored by Nestlé Waters North America.
Please see attached information.

Enter Samsung's $1 Million Technology Competition (September 22, 2011-March 12, 2012)
Samsung and its partners are asking teachers to participate in its contest which will address a key academic challenge in our country: to increase the pursuit of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education. With Samsung and schools joining together, we’re looking to foster interest in these subjects among students and illustrate the practical impact applying these subjects can have. Click here to for more information and to apply. Contest begins 8/22/11, ends 3/12/12.


EPA Accepting Applications for Environmental Education Sub-Grants Program (Deadline: November 8)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing the availability of $1.5 million in grant funding for the Environmental Education Sub-grants Program for 2011. The purpose of this competitive grant program is to increase environmental awareness and stewardship. EPA expects to award one (1) grant for approximately $150,000 in each of EPA’s ten (10) Regions and will accept applications until November 8, 2011. EPA will be hosting three conference calls for potential applicants interested in additional information about the application process. The conference call dates and times are listed below. To participate, dial the toll free number and enter the conference ID code. The call-in number for all three calls is: 1-866-246-5569.
          Sept. 22, 2011, 3:30 pm Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (ID code:  97738763)
          Sept. 27, 2011, 2:00 pm EDT (ID code:  97740900)
          Sept. 30, 2011, 12.00 pm EDT (ID code:  97741103)
For more information on eligibility and application materials, visit:
For direct questions on the Environmental Education Sub-grants Program for 2011, send emails to:

National Science Foundation Program Announcement: Discovery Research K-12
Directorate for Education & Human Resources Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings
Letter of Intent Due Date(s) (required) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time): November 17, 2011 and October 04, 2012
Full Proposal Deadline(s)
(due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time): January 10, 2012 and December 06, 2012
For full program information, visit:

Whole Foods New School Garden Grant (Deadline: December 31)
Whole Foods is giving away 1000 school garden grants valued at $2000.00 each. The application is online and is due December 31, 2011. Here is a link for the application and more information:


The Human Solution to Water Pollution video makes its debut!  
Produced by the Southern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority (SSCAFCA) to supplement its educational stormwater programming, the video targets students in grades 5-8, but is appropriate for grade 4-adult. To view the video, click here: SSCAFCA is dedicated to educating area students, adults, and the community on the issues of flood control and watershed management. This new video is featured in the RiverXchange curriculum. RiverXchange combines a year-long water resources curriculum with class partnerships through social networking technology.

“Our Mississippi”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ quarterly 12-page, full-color tabloid, “Our Mississippi,” covers a wide range of Mississippi River issues as well as stories on travel, archeology, nature exploration, and more. With a coverage area that stretches from the upper Mississippi region to the Gulf, the publication’s primary goal is to promote a balanced, sustainable use of the river and encourage greater appreciation of this national treasure. Past issues have featured kayak water trails, coastal restoration, navigating an icy winter river, the comeback of the otter, and river reforestation. It also includes a series of short profiles about people with a unique connection to the river, including storytellers, oyster farmers, eagle center staffers, mussel divers, and more. The “Our Mississippi Kids” page features child-oriented fun. Attached is the spring issue of the “Our Mississippi.” For more information or to subscribe, visit:

Information Exchange for Marine Educators
The information included in the attached document below has been compiled from many different sources, including EE-NEWS@NAAEE, scuttlebutt, EEinGEORGIA, the Scout Report, edinfo at FREE, and others. They have attempted to verify web addresses, but make no guarantee of accuracy. The Department of Commerce/NOAA does not necessarily endorse or promote the views or facts presented on these sites. If materials or respond to a request for information is requested, please mention that you learned about it in NOAA's Information Exchange. To subscribe to this distribution list, send a blank message to with “subscribe infoexchange” in the subject field. Similarly, to remove yourself from the list, send the subject “unsubscribe infoexchange”. Contact the editor directly at , or by phone at (865) 932-5074, to discuss further enhancements or to contribute information for future issues.


Volunteers Needed to Plant Mangroves at Port Fourchon (September 24)
The Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, the National Wildlife Federation, and the Edward Wisner Foundation invite volunteers to participate in a marsh restoration project along the impacted marshes of Port Fourchon. Volunteers are needed to plant 2,500 mangrove trees which will assist in stabilizing the marsh soils in the hopes of preventing future erosion.  This project coincides with National Estuaries Day. This nationwide event encourages volunteers to spend “a day on the bay” as part of an annual service celebrating the vibrant and essential habitats located where rivers meet the sea.
          Where: Port Fourchon Public Boat Launch
          When: Saturday September 24, 2011, 10 a.m. to no later than 4 p.m.
All equipment (gloves, shovels, dibbles, etc.), sunscreen, and bug spray will be provided.  Drinks and lunch will be provided to all volunteers. Minors under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Old tennis shoes or knee boots are recommended. Comfortable clothes that can get dirty will be needed (a change of clothes and towel for the end of the day is also recommended). Please register online at the or call the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana at (888)-LACOAST for more information.

Find out about wetland outreach activities including symposiums, conferences, meetings, educational opportunities, volunteer opportunities, and related support material at the Louisiana Unified Coastal Community Calendar at

Venise Ortego, Environmental Education Coordinator, 337-948-0255,
Juliet Raffray, Environmental Education Assistant Coordinator, 225-765-0124,
Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries –


West Monroe Man Pleads Guilty to Killing Bald Eagle

Release Date: 09/20/2011


A West Monroe Man pled guilty for violating the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act in the Federal Western District Court of Louisiana in Monroe on Sept. 19.

Jeffrey M. Miles, 22, entered his guilty plea to U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Hayes for shooting a mature bald eagle in Franklin Parish on April 4, 2011.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents initiated the investigation on April 4 after finding a dead bald eagle in a drainage ditch along Camphouse Road.

After a thorough investigation and receiving tips from the public through the department's Operation Game Thief hotline, agents were able to cite Miles on April 22 for violating the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

"Getting a guilty plea in federal court proves that the investigative work our agents did was factual and sound," said Col. Winton Vidrine, head of the LDWF Law Enforcement Division.  "Utilizing the public tips, gathering crucial evidence and interviewing suspects or people with information about this case all led to a successful conviction."

Hayes ordered a pre-sentencing investigation to be completed by federal investigators.  A sentencing date has been set for Jan. 3, 2012 in Monroe.  Violating the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act brings up to a $100,000 fine and up to 12 months in jail.

Agents participating in the case were Capt. Alan Bankston, Lt. Scott Watson, Senior Agent Albert Tarver and Senior Agent Johnny Wilson.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at

Belle Chasse Man Cited for Filing False Boat Registration

Release Date: 09/19/2011


Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division Strike Force and undercover agents cited a Belle Chasse man for alleged boat registration violations on Sept. 18.

Agents cited Benjamin Vodopija, 24, for possessing a motorboat with an altered hull identification number in Plaquemines Parish.  Vodopija was also cited for injuring public records and filing false public records in East Baton Rouge Parish in his attempt to illegally register a boat.

Undercover agents answered an Internet classified ad in reference to a subject wanting to purchase a Louisiana boat registration for a vessel that he was unable to obtain a registration for legally.  Undercover agents made contact with Vodopija and sold him a false registration for $200.  Vodopija allegedly registered the vessel in his name with the false registration.

For filing false public records and injuring public records, Vodopija faces up to five years in jail, or up to $5,000 in fines or both for each offense.  Agents seized the vessel along with a Yamaha outboard motor and boat trailer.

Agents involved in the case were Lt. Joseph Arnaud, Sgt. Todd Laviolette, Agents Charles Talbert, Justin Lowry, Ronnie Engelhard and LDWF undercover agents.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at

LDWF to Begin Accepting Lake Calcasieu Oyster Permit Application September 26

Release Date: 09/15/2011

September 15, 2011 – Today the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries reminds interested oyster harvesters that Lake Calcasieu oyster permit applications will begin being accepted at 9 a.m., Monday, September 26.  Applications may be submitted online only.

To view a sample application click here:

For more information on the Lake Calcasieu oyster permit application click here:

For questions concerning the application process, contact Cole Garrett at (225) 763-5577 or at

As required by Act 329 of the 2011 Louisiana Legislative Session, anyone seeking to commercially harvest oysters in Lake Calcasieu must have one of 126 special Oyster Harvester Permits issued by LDWF. 

Of the 126 permits available, 63 will be issued exclusively to eligible fishermen who have historically harvested in Lake Calcasieu since January 1, 2001.  The remaining 63 permits will be issued to any person who is otherwise eligible.

Permits will be valid for a period of one year beginning October 1, of a given year and ending September 30, of the following year.  Applicants are required to hold a current and valid commercial fishing license and oyster harvester license.

At its September meeting, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission set the 2011 limit at 10 sacks per person, per vessel, per day at Lake Calcasieu.  Only the portion of the Lake known as West Cove will be open for harvest.  The season is set to open on November 1st.

Applications for permits will be available exclusively online on the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries website (  Permits will be issued on a first-come-first-serve basis, determined by the order in which completed applications are submitted through the LDWF website.  Online submission is the ONLY acceptable method to submit completed applications.

Completed applications will be reviewed by LDWF and permits will be issued prior to the opening of the oyster harvest season in Lake Calcasieu West Cove.

Harvesters will be required to reapply on the last Monday of September each year.

A completed application consists of the following information:  applicant’s name, physical and mailing address, phone number, commercial license number, and oyster harvester license number.

For press inquiries please contact Laura Wooderson at or (225)610-2363.


National Hunting & Fishing Day Outdoor Festival


The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) is celebrating National Hunting and Fishing Day (NHFD) on September 24th, 2016. 

NHFD is a national event celebrated by all 50 states on the fourth Saturday in September.  It was created in 1972 when Congress passed two bills establishing a specific day to celebrate the conservation contributions of our nation’s hunters and anglers. Forty years later, the events are still going strong.

LDWF introduced its first NHFD event in 1982 at the Monroe district office.  In the following years, three more locations were developed in Baton Rouge, Minden and Woodworth.  Today, more than 10,000 people statewide attend the celebrations, creating the largest public event for the department.

All four events are free. The number and types of exhibits vary at each location but all include exhibits on LDWF management programs, shooting and fishing demonstrations, exhibits from local chapters of Ducks Unlimited, Safari Club and CCA, and supporting businesses from the local communities. Attendees have the chance to try their skills at the shooting ranges, fishing ponds and boating activities, as well as learn about wildlife with live animals.

For more information about this national event, visit



The Baton Rouge, NHFD event has been cancelled due to damages sustained by the Waddill Outdoor Education Center and surrounding businesses during the recent historic flooding in South Louisiana.

Commercial King Mackerel Season to Close September 16

Release Date: 09/14/2011

September 14, 2011 – Today, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announced the commercial season for king mackerel in Louisiana waters will close at 12 p.m., on Friday, September 16, 2011. 

The closure was made based on data gathered by LDWF biologists and the National Marine Fisheries Service, that the annual quota for king mackerel of 1.01 million pounds for the western zone of the Gulf of Mexico would soon be met.  The commercial fishing season for king mackerel will also close in federal waters at noon on Friday. 

Each year, a commercial quota is established for Gulf of Mexico group king mackerel by NMFS based on recommendations by the Gulf and South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils. That figure is then divided into allocations for various zones and fisheries.  According to the best information available, the 1.01 million pound commercial quota of king mackerel for the western zone of the Gulf of Mexico will be harvested by September 16, 2011.

While there are relatively few king mackerel harvested or targeted by Louisiana recreational anglers, a substantial commercial fishery does exist, which typically lands 800,000 to 900,000 pounds annually at Louisiana ports.  A significant portion of the king mackerel landed in Louisiana ports is shipped to markets in the northeast United States.

For more information, contact Jason Adriance at 504.284.2032 or  For press inquiries contact Laura Deslatte-Wooderson at 225.610.2363 or

WEEKLY eNEWS: Upcoming Events, Grants, Employment Opportunities, & Resources

A Compilation of Environmental Education News from Across Louisiana


NSTA New Orleans Area Conference (November 10-12)
Join the NSTA 2011 New Orleans Area Conference on Science Education where the history is as colorful as the local architecture. The conference headquarters hotel is the New Orleans Marriott. Conference registration and some sessions will be at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center, as will the exhibits and the NSTA Science Bookstore. Additional sessions and events will be held at the Marriott.


Great Opportunity for K-12 Public School Math and Science Teachers! (Deadline: September 16)
Looking for a way to purchase math and science classroom materials? The QSM program administered by the Gordon Cain STEM Center at LSU ( has approximately $162,000 in funds to award grants to eligible classroom teachers for the 2011-12 school year. Grants of up to $750 each for approved materials and equipment are awarded on a competitive basis to individual classroom teachers to use in providing standards-based instruction to help meet state accountability goals. Applicants must show that their proposals will enhance the quality of instruction for regular education students who are enrolled in mathematics or science classes. Only full-time classroom teachers assigned to teach mathematics or science in the K-12 regular education program in public schools are eligible to submit proposals. Go to for the full guidelines and regulations.

The North Face Explore Fund (Deadline: October 5)
The Explore Fund supports organizations that encourage youth outdoor participation, focusing primarily on creating more connections of children to nature, increasing access to both front and backcountry recreation, as well as providing education for both personal and environmental health. Grants will be given up to $2,500. For more information:

Research on Gender in Science and Engineering (Deadline: October 13)
The Research on Gender in Science and Engineering (GSE) program supports efforts to understand and address gender-based differences in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and workforce participation through research, the diffusion of research-based innovations, and extension services in education that will lead to a larger and more diverse domestic science and engineering workforce.
Diffusion of Research-based Innovation Proposals Program Guidelines: NSF 10-516
For more information, please visit:

Gulf of Mexico Bay-Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) Program (Deadline: October 14)
The National Marine Fisheries Service Southeast Region is now seeking proposals under the Gulf of Mexico NOAA Bay-Watershed Education and Training (Gulf B-WET) Program. The full FY12 Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO) can be found at or the following Fisheries Service Southeast Regional Office URL: Applicants should apply through Applications must be received by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on October 14, 2011 to be considered for funding. Please see the FFO for all application details. The Gulf of Mexico B-WET program is an environmental education program that promotes locally relevant, experiential learning in the K-12 environment. Funded projects provide meaningful watershed educational experiences (MWEEs) for students, related professional development for teachers, and help to support regional education and environmental priorities in the Gulf of Mexico.

National Park Service Outdoor Nation Grants (Deadline: October 14)
The Outdoor Nation Grants opportunity is awarding $2,500 to bring innovative ideas to life. This grant is designed to allow youth to tackle some of the many challenges facing young people today, from a population’s disconnect with the outdoors to a community’s overall declining health. These community based, youth led initiatives will leverage existing programs and resources including the National Park Service. For more information:


PolarTREC Now Accepting Applications for 2012 (Deadline: September 30)
PolarTREC (Teachers and Researchers Exploring and Collaborating) is a program in which K-12 teachers spend 2-6 weeks participating in hands-on field research experiences in the polar regions. The goal of PolarTREC is to advance polar science education and understanding by bringing K-12 educators and polar researchers together through hands-on field experiences. Most costs associated with participation in the program are covered. This includes travel, lodging, food, essential field gear, and substitute costs, if needed. Whether you are interested in a teacher research experience, building new professional networks, or enriching your classroom content—PolarTREC has something for every educator! For more information:


Current Event! For information pertaining to the very significant drought and related wildfires in our area of the United States, visit:
Texas Agrilife Extension Service – Click on “Wildlife Resources” and “Drought Information” for excellent information on causes of, preparation, latest maps, etc.:
Louisiana Department of Agriculture & Forestry – Daily fire weather probability map, current burn ban map:
Texas Forest Service – map of active fires with pertinent statistics:

Climate Change Starter’s Guidebook
This publication from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) provides an introduction and overview for education planners and practitioners on the wide range of issues relating to climate change and climate change education, including causes, impacts, mitigation and adaptation strategies, as well as some broad political and economic principals. For more information:

Toolkit for Teachers to Facilitate an Air Quality Workshop
This Toolkit is designed for anyone who would like to conduct an air quality workshop for teachers. The goal of the workshop is for K-12 teachers to gain a better understanding of air quality and air pollution issues, experience hands-on activities, and gain insight into topics such as global warming and climate change, calculating a carbon footprint, and the health effects of air pollution. The knowledge gained will support the teacher’s classroom instruction and in turn will motivate and increase student’s interest in air quality. For more information:

Find out about wetland outreach activities including symposiums, conferences, meetings, educational opportunities, volunteer opportunities, and related support material at the Louisiana Unified Coastal Community Calendar at

Venise Ortego, Environmental Education Coordinator, 337-948-0255,
Juliet Raffray, Environmental Education Assistant Coordinator, 225-765-0124,
Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries –

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