Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana
Brett Pickett finished his master’s degree in May 2022, but every job he looked at and applied for, even entry-level jobs, required a few years of work experience. “When I found out about Serve Louisiana, I thought, ‘This is perfect for me, I can learn what it’s like to work a full-time position, and get job experience,’” he said.
For this reason, Pickett applied for a Serve Louisiana position at CRCL running their Student Coastal Leaders program. “I was thrown into it and told ‘Go run this program,’” he said. “I helped them expand the program in the aftermath of COVID.”
The program, which Pickett now runs as a CRCL staff member, hosts bi-monthly educational meetings with high school and college students, covering environmental topics such as environmental justice, public policy, and coastal erosion. The program also facilitates young people to participate in hands-on volunteer opportunities with CRCL and other environmental nonprofits like Sankofa and SOUL New Orleans. “We give students hands-on experiences outside with environmental issues,” Pickett said.
CRCL is also utilizing student volunteers to expand their exposure at various community events and festivals. They brought them to tour the state capitol. And students earned free access to CRCL’s State of the Coast conference.
“We are crucially exposing young people to what’s going on in Louisiana and what they can do about it… It’s also about building community… “Because of a program like this, we have a more informed, aware, better prepared population in Louisiana than we would have had in the past.” —Brett Pickett
“I see the program as creating adaptive capacity for young people to be able to deal with our coastal issues now and into the future,” said Pickett. “We are crucially exposing young people to what’s going on in Louisiana and what they can do about it… It’s also about building community. We want students to be more part of this community… Because of a program like this, we have a more informed, aware, better prepared population in Louisiana than we would have had in the past.”
Pickett’s success leading the program led to CRCL inviting him to speak at the national Restore America’s Estuaries Conference. “A huge deal,” he said, “and something I can put on my resume.” Pickett and his fellow Corps Members also conducted research projects in advance of CRCL’s State of the Coast conference. Pickett’s poster focused on his research on “developing the adaptive capacity of young people” at the conference.
Ultimately, CRCL figured out a way to hire him after his term, allowing him to continue his work.
“I didn’t know I wanted to work with College students,” he said. “I hope to continue to expand the Student Coastal Leaders program and refine it,” he said, looking toward the future. “This program is providing support for larger scale things. It shows people want to do this [coastal restoration] work and are doing this work. And that it could be possible to do so much more on a state level.”
By: David Ferris