NOEMS by Megan Johnson


Every time I arrive at New Orleans EMS operational headquarters, I am amazed by how inconspicuous and small it seems for the action which takes place here on a daily basis. The two low slung trailers, which hold administrative personnel, almost blend into the background of the I-10 above, and stray cats wander the periphery. Beyond those it resembles a large parking lot, full of regular cars and ambulances. Today they have from four to six trucks posted around the city at any given time, ready to respond within minutes to emergencies, but this was not always the case. Although it is not a clear beginning, EMS in New Orleans is considered to have started with horse-drawn carriages provided by Charity Hospital in the early 1900’s. Over time, horses were replaced with early automobiles and eventually the ambulances used today. Similarly, the personnel staffing the mobile units have evolved. The responsibility of providing EMS was transferred to the New Orleans Police Department in 1947, meaning police officers worked the trucks. As emergency medical technician and paramedic training became available, the police department incorporated these certifications into their service, and today all trucks are required to have at least one nationally certified paramedic on board. Also aiding with the high call volume are two supervisors, also paramedics, in sprint vehicles. The New Orleans Health Department had taken over the division by the time Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city in 2005. Most of the rebuilding which occurred thereafter made NOEMS what it is today. The operational side of NOEMS was placed under the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, but all funding comes from the New Orleans Health Department and therefore that portion of the city budget.

New Orleans is also nationally celebrated for the work it is able to perform in New Orleans, a city with one of the nations highest trauma rates. Military personnel have even trained with NOEMS to prepare for trauma they might see in combat, and my EMT-basic claimed they would not have survived the combat zone without their training here. EMTs and paramedics on staff are more than willing to share some of the horrifying things they have seen on duty, with the unfortunate but necessary callous attitude adopted by most of them. In order to survive in such a demanding and exhausting job, emotions have to be set aside and cases cannot be connected to personal life. I have noticed the population base in New Orleans can be incredibly trying at times when it comes to a service which does not discriminate against any caller with an emergency, in my mind the ultimate public service. A lot of dispatches are for patients with advanced cases which could have been managed long ago with preventative care, but the lack of education is to blame in these instances. Additionally, abuse of the healthcare system is rampant. A large portion of the population uses emergency departments for complaints which would be better managed by family doctors or urgent care, also at a lower price. Yet the most frustrating part of all these issues is the minimal time frame EMS staff have to interact with their patients, since little to no change is able to be accomplished within the time frame. EMTs and paramedics are left to deal with problems caused by bad policy and infrastructure. Instead, the most they can do is give their patients the best care within their scope of practice and hope their influence will cause change in the future. Those EMS personnel who cannot manage all of this tend to leave for other, more pleasant careers. However, no medic or EMT that I have met is able to maintain this façade when it comes to children. Even though they will tell you it is easy to blame adults because they have been alive long enough to know better, children are innocent and never deserve the afflictions which befall them. The quietest and most somber call I have ever worked was an infant in cardiac arrest. There were no jokes or fun afterwards, only quiet reflection revealing the still human side of my medic and EMT-basic.

Another amazing quality of the majority of staff at NOEMS is their eagerness to teach, especially when it comes to volunteers such as me. Questions are encouraged, whether they pertain to a call, operation, or hypothetical scenario. Even though the job is hard, it is these moments where the medic’s and EMT’s passion for their work shines through. Most of the time, these lessons are discussions in which they encourage me to use my own knowledge base to come to the proper conclusion. Riding with NOEMS has easily magnified my medical knowledge and made me a better EMT. Before undergoing the extensive testing necessary to become a supervisor for Tulane EMS, I decided to ride consistently and frequently with NOEMS. Watching my crew in action as they digested a scene, determined life threats, and moved the patient towards higher care gave me unparalleled insight into pre-hospital care which is necessary as a supervisor.  However, I would like to think the ride-alongs are not one sided when it comes to learning. My service to them is more than just an extra, capable set of hands to ease their burden. I would like to think I serve as a reminder of the reason they love EMS and were eager to a pursue a career in the field. My presence hopefully becomes a break in the monotony, as they have someone to educate and cultivate in the next generation, which will be responsibly for instituting the social change which is sorely needed in New Orleans. I know through my career in medicine I can apply what I have and will learn with NOEMS to make the healthcare field a better place, and I appreciate the opportunity I have been given. 


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Interning at the Office of Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell by Amy Rodenberger

I am a sophomore from Lancaster, Pennsylvania majoring in Political Science and Spanish & Portuguese, with a minor in Latin American Studies.  I currently intern at New Orleans’ City Hall, in the office of Councilmember LaToya Cantrell.  This is a Public Service Internship for which I am earning 3 credit hours and fulfilling my 2nd tier public service graduation requirement through the Center for Public Service. 
Being an intern in such an active environment, my job changes every day depending on the needs of the Councilmember and her office staff.  Some days are pretty mundane, and I am needed in the office to answer phone calls, send emails, organize files, and do other “classic intern” activities.  On one of my less than favorite days, I typed up the new and dreaded Mardi Gras Ordinances, filed them properly, and defended them on the telephone.
Other days are much more interesting though.  I assist the Councilmember at Council Meetings, Budget Hearings, and Committee Meetings.  I go on sight with other staff members to large protests, city events, and emergency City Government meetings.  I helped organized events, like Wednesday at the Square and the District B Dog Bowl. I also was able to create an afterschool program for kids in the city to teach them about cleaning up trash, and see firsthand the success it has at afterschool programs with the city’s elementary school kids.
Working in an office as influential as Councilmember Cantrell’s allows me to learn more about this city than I ever could have imagined.  I am completely immersed in local politics, and actually live out what I read on the front page of the Times Picayune.  I also am able to meet and work with a huge variety of people in New Orleans, from prominent city leaders to elementary school kids. I learn about so many of the city’s different groups and organizations through my work in the office, and experience just how complex and diverse the problems and the people in this city are.
I have learned a lot about professionalism through this internship, from how to talk to a large variety of people, to how to stay organized and focused through the chaos that is New Orleans’ City Hall.  Things never stop happening there, people are constantly in and out, new problems arrive, and sometimes tragedies strike.  I see the importance of both teamwork and hard work in times like this, and I’ve seen how, when communities unite, a whole lot can happen.  The best thing I’ve learned from this internship though, is the importance of staying positive through everything, the good, the bad, and the even the boring. 
With an office staff as vibrant and energetic as the one in District B, it is hard not to stay upbeat myself, especially because we are working in a city as exciting as New Orleans.  While I don’t plan to keep working in local politics, I believe that the office and people skills I have learned will be applicable to any job I want in the future.  If I do end up staying in politics though, the one thing I know now is there would be nowhere more exciting to work than in New Orleans.
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The Southern Food and Beverage Museum by Sara Muchnick



WHO… is Southern Food and Beverage Museum?

The Southern Food & Beverage Museum is a non-for-profit organization that aims to circulate an awareness and understanding of the New Orleanian love of food and the South’s rich & intricate culinary culture and history to the rest of our country.

The Organization Offers

Exhibits| Galleries | Stories | Research | Culinary Library| Culinary Archive


WHO … makes up the staff?

The Southern Food & Beverage Museum is primarily run by a staff of 12 people who are as colorful as the Food & Beverage culture that we live among. Their vast variety of education and employment backgrounds contributes to the unique range of focus and spirit exhibited by SoFab’s expeditions and overall character. Among the team is a culinary lawyer and writer, a media producer, an award-winning musician, a filmmaker, a culinary arts expert, a graphic designer, and a former restaurant owner. Additional Staffing and Help includes a team of 5 Special Curators & Researchers, 28 members of the Board of Directors, and 13 members of the Advisory Board. The Advisory Board generates a diverse range of perspectives, from professors to doctors to chefs, including New Orleans’ own bigwig, John Besh.


WHO… do they help?

SoFab educates the city, state, country, and hopefully the world through their collection of artwork, projects, research, stories, news updates, library, and archive, some of which can be accessed on their premises or online.

WHAT… are their missions & goals?

Education about culinary culture offers significant information about world history and the evolution of traditions. The organization maintains the prerogative to educate the largest possible audience about the Southern food and beverage traditions and heritage from the ground up, literally. They cover information about the farmers, fishermen, and hunters & gatherers who contributed to the development and establishment of modern day Southern culinary culture. They cover the diverse ethnological components of Southern food conventions that originated from foreign traditions (such as those of African-Americans, Caribbean, French, and Germans) and have become the very core of the South’s own, elaborate traditions. They also focus on the food & drink culture as it is today, with note of the professional realm that make a living working to not only contribute to the Southern food customs but also keep it afloat and alive. These professionals range from processors to inventors to chefs to business people. They are involved in anything from the management of restaurants, to the circulation of Southern food products nation-wide or cross-continentally, and even to their personal preservation of their own or their family’s recipes that reflect the history of the South’s culinary traditions. 


“Celebrate, interpret, investigate, entertain and preserve.”

Specifically, I’ve been helping out with a particular project of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum: the Culinary Heritage Register. This is the first database EVER that works to illuminate and preserve any factor that has contributed to our country’s complex and extensive culinary history and landscape. What makes this Register special is that it will preserve at a level deeper than simply recording historically relevant infrastructure. Instead, the Register will pay homage to “any significant culinary product, process, invention, tradition, and establishment at least 60 years old” that has contributed to America’s identity and that will offer truly valuable insight into its environment, economy, and social structures.

WHERE… is the education spreading?

SoFab has circulated its education about the South nationally and with the launch of the Register, it will expand the historical content it teaches from that which is strictly focusing on the South to that which is emphasizing traditions had across the whole country. Hopefully, with its Internet accessibility, the Southern Food and Beverage Museum will transcend the U.S. borders and educate the world.



The issues that the Southern Food & Beverage Museum addresses are far and wide. For one, it serves its primary purpose as an educational, non-profit source of rich history and culture of the South. However, there are community issues related to food that SoFab has adopted into its repertoire of areas in which to raise awareness. For instance, the childhood obesity epidemic is one that the organization addresses. The museum uses its bi-coastal presence (in Washington DC and Los Angeles) to deliver pedagogical speeches to the world about legal and social implications of this issue.

The organization has also taken it upon itself to initiate Cultural Impact Research by creating a website to collect and distribute information concerning the affects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill. In an effort to promulgate the depth of the cultural consequences of the spill, SoFab also created an open forum that welcomes anyone to post relevant data about the spill itself or additional research or projects dedicated to its cause.


HOW… can they afford it?

Funding for SoFab’s exhibits and other efforts primarily comes from donations, memberships, and gift shop sales. However, the staff’s wide range of expertise allows them to also offer lectures in each of their respective fields, for which they charge a fee.


Food, Law, Policy | Cocktail history | Culinary History of New Orleans | Food Museums

HOW … does it apply to me?

Philosophy is instrumental in the way I think, read, write, understand people & appreciate their diverse approaches. I’ve always worked in the hospitality industry: hostessing and restaurant events, PR, & marketing; and I’ve always converged my education with my passion. Specifically, for marketing, I executed my learned persuasive writing & insight into people in order to package the restaurant in a way that’s compelling. Thus, my marketing and development position with SoFab’s Culinary Heritage Register extracts & applies concepts from my major & experiences.


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I have been jokingly told by the director of the Latino Farmers’ Cooperative of Louisiana (LFCL) that it has been inaptly named. It is an organization that helps all people, not only Latinos; it does not have a farm, only a small community garden; and it is not a cooperative.

But when the organization received its name it was a full-fledged farm. Just last year, LFCL adopted an English language learning program. In an attempt to maintain public recognition, they have kept their name.

LFCL is a demand-driven service organization. That is what drew me to this organization in the first place. Oftentimes service organizations provide what they think a population will need. They do not provide what the population actually needs. But the Latino Farmers’ Cooperative only exists to provide the services that the clients need.


Tom Zolot (my site supervisor) holding up giant turnips from the community garden. 

On the membership sign-up sheet there is a checklist of services that a new member may want to receive from LFCL: a food bank, English classes, nutrition classes, poultry production, farmers markets and/or small-scale urban farming. As I archived the newmember information, I noticed a shift away from an agricultural need and towards an educational need. Similarly, the organization has adjusted to provide a stronger educational component including a diversity of classes and class sessions.

LFCL originally focused on offering education and training so members could grow and eat healthy food in urban sustainable farms. The community garden still allows for small agricultural projects. Nutrition classes are still thriving at the Coopertativa, as we call it there.

The work that I do addressed the socioeconomic issues of the Latino community in Louisiana. As I previously stated, the Cooperativa is available to all people who seek help, not just Latinos. As the assistant to the case manager, I help clients read, understand and fill out legal documents. Most often, we help clients with government aid documents such as forms for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid. These documents are offered by the government in Spanish, but they have been poorly translated. It is as if someone input the English version of the form into an online translator, and they hand out this unintelligible version in Spanish. So as an assistant to the case manager, part of my job is to explain the forms and the timeline the client should expect from the process.


A “Communal Vegetable Sale” sign outside of the Cooperativa. 

To me this is the most interesting part of my internship: being able to help people face-to-face. It is my passion to speak Spanish so I love being able to speak Spanish with the clients. I studied abroad in Chile in South America, but the majority of the clients speak Spanish with a Nicaraguan or Honduran accent. I am learning different dialects and pronunciations through my work at the Cooperativa.

Right now most of my Spanish classes are focusing on Latino literature, which does not exactly tie into my internship. I am taking Latin American culture class though. This class has helped me understand the geopolitics and history of the homelands of
many clients. We are learning about the political leaders who made Latin America independent from Spain and dissuaded the United States from invading after Spain left. This class information allows me to understand the countries where many of the clients have come from. It allows me to understand why people left their home countries to come to New Orleans, a city that does not provide many public services to the Latino community.

So often Spanish-speakers (they aren’t necessarily immigrants) are shunned and do not feel welcomed in this country of immigrants. When I first moved abroad and my Spanish abilities weren’t very good, I would try to run errands and I would get very frustrated at myself and the people around me. Not being able to communicate what I needed made me feel defeated. Store owners worked with me and were happy that I was trying to speak Spanish. I don’t think this is a common occurrence in the United States. Store workers get frustrated when Spanish-speakers aren’t fluent in English and give up on helping. 


Inexpensive international foods for sale for clients inside the office.

LFCL builds a place where people can feel like they belong. It promotes community involvement for everyone. We who work at the Cooperative will not give up on helping our clients. This allows a feeling of belonging for everyone. The Latino Farmers’ Cooperative filled the void of services provided to the Latino community in New Orleans. It allows for a sense of connection to the city for both adults and urban youth.




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Site Analysis: Freret Neighborhood Center By J.R. deBart

When I first joined the Freret Neighborhood Center as an intern, my expectation were that I was joining an organizational that primarily focuses on housing issues for residents of the surround area and after school activities for underprivileged children.  However, once I began my work with the FNC, I learned a lot more about the organization itself, and the extent of services they offered.

One way I found this out was by logging on to the two Freret Neighborhood Center websites along with their Facebook page.  The first webpage,, is the FNC’s main website.  This website is more externally based, meaning its target audience is most likely the general public, or those wanting to learn more about the organization.  The site displays the information on the FNC’s history and background, mission and goals, population served, structure and staffing, and funding.  Below is a tidbit of what you will find on the website.

The Freret Neighborhood Center was opened in 2007 to revitalize the neighborhood and organize community capacity.  The center serves as a space for the community to gather and for the fostering of leadership development in the Freret and Milan neighborhoods.

Everything that the Freret Neighborhood Center does is informed, designed, and implemented by residents. Each of FNC’s programs has a base of leaders who guide the program, volunteers who help to execute program activities and many more residents who participate.

The Freret Neighborhood Center trains neighbors to develop leadership and decision-making skills and carry out essential community organizing tasks: door-to-door, phone outreach and flyers.

The Freret Neighborhood Center has a comprehensive approach to neighborhood development.

The FNC believes that the interconnectedness of factors contributing to neighborhood distress is too-often neglected within the community development field, where the tendency is often to segregate issues into separate areas.


The Freret Neighborhood Center has a strategic planning process.

The FNC records community needs and expectations through the organization’s Resident Satisfaction Surveys.

The FNC sees evaluation as a continuing process and a crucial guideline for action.

In addition to this basic information, the Freret Neighborhood Center’s website also includes tabs that leads the visitor to categorized information on the more specific functions of the organization.  These tabs include, “Revitalizing Community,” “Engaging Youth,” “Connecting Seniors,” “Resource Center,” and the “Freret-Milan Property Campaign.”  Each of these tabs have more written information about each of the services the FNC offers. 

 Along with the Freret Neighborhood Center’s main website, the organization also has a second website that serves a more internal function.  By internal, this means all stakeholders (all active employers, guests, and potential guests) of the FNC.  This webpage—named the Freret Neighborhood Center Resource Page and located at—can be accessed from the organization’s main website by clicking the link under the tab “Resource Center,” but can also be accessed from any of the FNC’s main computers at the center’s location.  This page offers a monthly schedule of the center’s events, the center’s hours of operation, links to various email exchange websites and reputable search engines, and most importantly, tabs at the top of the page which lead users to helpful links that maximizes their use of the Freret Neighborhood Center’s resources and services.

As I have come to learn while at the Freret Neighborhood Center, its Resource Center is one of the most important services offered to its public.  Through our Resource Center, the FNC works one-on-one with neighbors to learn the basics about computers, including how to set up an email account, how to create and save a document like a letter or a resume, how to pay bills online, how to apply for benefits, like unemployment or social security.  The Resource Center also offers resume workshops, job search assistance, and free internet and wireless services.  Additionally, fax & copy services to people who live in the Freret area is offered.  As it states on the website, “The Resource Center is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM and Saturdays, from 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM.”

Lastly, The Freret Neighborhood Center also owns a Facebook page, which I think is extremely positive and displays and symbolizes how, despite being a non-profit, the organization tries to stay current with the times in order to attract everyone within their target market.  In other words, the people at the FCN know that many of their potential cliental are younger kids in school who use social networking outlets such as Facebook, and they attempt to cater to them despite their limited resources in being a non for profit.  In fact, one of my jobs in the next few months is to create and run a Twitter page for the Freret Neighborhood Center! 

Having resources available to the public is why the Freret Neighborhood Center is in existence, and its websites are clear, easy to find and navigate, portrayals of everything it stands for and offers.

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The NORD Foundation Site Analysis By Spencer Schulz

Before reading the weekly IMPACT newsletter from the Center for Public Service, I was completely unaware of the NORD Foundation (New Orleans Recreation Development Foundation). After reading through their internship listing, I immediately knew I would qualify for the job—they needed an entrepreneurial-minded business student, preferably with roots in Baltimore, to sell Super Bowl turf donated by the Superdome. Weeks later, I was taken on as an intern, and I have learned a great deal.

The NORD Foundation was founded in December of 2010 as a private sister-organization to the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission (NORDC) and is a private, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. NORDC is tasked with providing “safe, wholesome, educational, recreational and culturally engaging opportunities to the citizens of New Orleans.” The NORD Foundation supports, promotes, stimulates public interest in, and raises and distributes funds to benefit the construction, creation, preservation and maintenance of public parks and playgrounds, recreational facilities and other leisure programs and activities in Orleans Parish. The Foundation facilitates investment in the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission (NORDC), the recreation system of Orleans Parish. The NORD Foundation firmly believes that access to quality recreational opportunities for all New Orleans citizens—youth, young adults, adults, senior citizens—is an achievable goal.

The NORD Foundation was formed to act as the fundraising arm of NORDC and is one part of a multipronged mission to reestablish the once nationally-renowned recreation department. Since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the recreational department had, in some respects, fallen by the wayside. With the formation of the new foundation, Mayor Landrieu also doubled the 2011 budget for recreation to over $10 million which gave the program greater stability. In late 2011, the chairman of the NORDC, Roy Glapion, spearheaded a search for a chief executive of the NORD Foundation with the help of DHR International, an independent search firm. The search committee chose Anne LaRock, former director of national philanthropy at United Way. Ms. LaRock has vast experience in fundraising and strategic planning and she has also worked with Catholic Charities, the Arts Council, the Friends of WWOZ, and the Martha Graham Center.

A volunteer Board of Directors leads the organization, and members are mostly business owners and well-known in the New Orleans community. This includes Cooper Manning of Howard Weil, Roy Glapion of NORDC, Roderick West of Entergy, Robert Boh of Boh Brothers, and Dell Demps of the New Orleans Pelicans, among others. A good deal of funding is sourced from local businesses, so it follows logically that those donors would like to manage how their donations are utilized. As stated in the mission statement, the foundation serves Orleans Parish.

My Internship

The main purpose of my internship is to raise funds for the New Orleans Recreation Development Foundation through the sale of artificial turf used in the Superdome for the NFL’s championship game. After the championship, the entire field of turf was donated by UBU Sports to the NORD Foundation and subsequently installed at Harrell Stadium in Hollygrove. Approximately 2000 square feet of turf remain in storage ready for sale. This project aims to sell all of the leftover turf and raise as much money as possible in time for the end of the semester/Christmas season. The product is scheduled to launch October 15th.

Secondary goals of this undertaking are the advocacy for equitable opportunities for recreation in New Orleans and publicity for NORDC, natural byproducts of marketing and selling the turf. My internship’s purposes are in line with the mission of the NORD Foundation and address the issues in the same way. I will be turning turf, an in-kind donation, into cash. The funds raised through this project will go the same route as any donation to the NORD Foundation; they are given to NORDC and put to work by building fields and playgrounds, purchasing equipment, and paying for programs.

My favorite part of the working at the NORD Foundation is that it lets me apply my academic knowledge and efforts to a project I find exciting, fun, and entrepreneurial. I use the skills I developed in my A.B. Freeman Communication classes on a daily basis. Besides writing to my supervisor and potential customers, I have written two professional documents for the first time. The first step in this project was writing a business plan which details the strategies and operations of the project. Furthermore, I wrote a press release which will be distributed to radio, television, and newspaper agencies in Baltimore, Maryland. To write my business plan I also needed to do some market research on the typical football fan. This was useful in my marketing and advertising because I knew who to target. I also have done some minimal business modeling and I am using my accounting knowledge to keep track of sales and inventory. After getting some experience in all of these areas, I now have an interest in entrepreneurship.

Approximately 2000 square feet of turf are currently stored in a warehouse in New Orleans East. Disregarding expenses and estimates, the project will potentially raise $50,000 of revenue for the NORD Foundation. After taking inventory of the turf, it will be divided based on color and design (red, purple, basic green, and perhaps confetti).

Because these will be the more sought-after sections of turf, there is some freedom in pricing. The starting price is $25 per square foot, though the pricing structure allows for color-based requests as well; for a square foot of either red or purple turf, customers will pay a $5 premium, bringing the cost per square foot to $30. This allows the customer to choose much more specifically what their turf will look like. Quality of color varies and cannot be standardized, so it will be done on a case-by-case basis.

Customers will pay for shipping and handling, which will vary in cost depending on the amount of turf purchased. For small sales (~1’ x 1’), FedEx can ship the turf in polyethylene bags. Cost will vary slightly depending on the weight of piece of turf. Large-lot sales will be shipped in using the same methods that a carpet company would use. Generally, it would be shipped by truck or maybe by FedEx. The rubber pieces will affect how much each piece weighs, so every effort will be made to reduce the amount of rubber pieces in the final product.

For online sales, we will charge via MissionFish. MissionFish is a PayPal account for nonprofits, and it will be linked to a NORD eBay account through which sales will be processed. All sales will be instead regarded as a contribution to NORD. At a fair market value of $10, each donor will receive a square foot of turf for their donation of $25. By doing this, NORD will not have to collect nor pay sales tax.

Each lot of turf will come with a Certificate of Authenticity signed by the original donor of the turf (UBU) and countersigned by Ms. LaRock. As a secondary authenticity control, each piece will be initialed by a NORD representative.

Buy yours today, and you could carpet your room with championship astro-turf! (See Below)


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Audubon Institute Site Analysis By Erica Venning

The Audubon Institute and Zoo was built on the former homeland of Native Americans. It is located in Audubon Park, a plot of land on the Mississippi River’s edge in Uptown, New Orleans. Although known best for its charming array of animal life, the Audubon Institute has undergone many transitions. The land was initially owned by the original mayor of New Orleans, Etienne de Bore, and it was used as North America’s first commercial sugar plantation. It was the first plantation to produce the now common, granulated sugar. The process was discovered by a free African-American named Rorbert Rillieux. The land was used for commercial sugar production until it was donated to the public in the early 1800’s (The Audubon Story). By the time the Civil War rolled around, the Confederate army adopted the site for its own purposes.  They stationed numerous infantry camps, cavalries and hospitals, most notably the Buffalo Soldiers. The Buffalo Soldiers, made globally famous by the Bob Marley song, were an infamous company of African-American soldiers. After the Civil War, the land saw numerous remodels and was finally reopened to the public for the 1884 World’s Fair. 


Bald Cypress pneumatophores in Audubon Park

It was at this time, the park was officially named Audubon Park, after the esteemed New Orleans based artist, James Audubon. It was not until 1894 that the park was fully landscaped into a public friendly area, modeled after New York’s central park. For the next 30 years the park went through numerous legal battles that enabled the birth of the zoo and the arrival of exotic animals. The park was filled was sea lions, tropical birds, elephants, monkeys and deer. The prolific amount of animals purchased was only possible by the myriad of community groups that came together to contribute to the cause.

Only 5 years later the dark cloud of the Great Depression floated above America, affecting the sustainability of the zoo and park. However, this did not deteriorate the people’s spirit and passion that originally kept the place running. Through a series of generous private donations, most notably from the Merz family, the zoo was able to stay afloat into the 50’s. Throughout the 1950’s and 60’s the zoo was in operation but was in horrible shape, even described by the media as a “ghetto” for animals. Through the 1970’s the Zoo, like America was in resurgence. They subsequently added their infamous world primate section and children’s zoo. 


Male silverback gorilla having lunch at Audubon Zoo

This rebirth set the standard that today’s Zoo is now known for. Throughout the 1980’s and 90’s the institution received praise from its industry contemporaries for its outreach programs and realistic environments. This steam carried over into the Audubon Institute expanding into the nationally acclaimed Woldenburg Aquarium, costing almost 25 million in construction. Finally by the late 90’s the Park, Zoo and Aquarium finally reached success. They provided the New Orleans community with wildlife education and family fun as well as expanding into a serious venture of philanthropy.

The Zoo now offers local schools and outreach programs a place to come and learn about the environment and the beauty of life. It provides children from all walks of life a way to see the serenity of wildlife and an opportunity to fall in love with nature. The Freeport-McMoran Audubon Species Survival Center exemplifies the fundamental ideal of zoology respect as shared the true patrons.

“Unique in the world, the campus combines research laboratories with acres of pristine natural habitat where rare and endangered animals can roam and reproduce. Exotic wildcats, Mississippi sand hill cranes, whooping cranes, saddle bill storks and other vanishing animals find sanctuary and flourish on these grounds, while scientists on-site at Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species wield assisted reproduction technologies in the war against wildlife extinction” (Preserving Wildlife for Tomorrow). 

The center also boasts some of the world’s most modern technology in the field, like a “frozen” zoo that holds the genetic information of extinct animals and plants. 

The mission and goal of the institute is undeniably to serve the community in a positive way. They strive to offer everyone in the community an equal opportunity to learn about and experience wildlife first hand. Offering discounts and financial support to local schools helps spread this initiative. The Institute also makes a point of minority hiring and vendor policies that cater to economically disadvantaged businesses (A Commitment to the Community).

As the Audubon Institute is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization, the pressure to impress donors is incredibly high (Our Mission). One of the ways the Institute maintains its prestige is by staffing according to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) standards. In order to become accredited with the AZA, a zoo must be evaluated based on animal management and care, their veterinary program, education programs, and on the quality of the staff (How Does Accreditation Work?). As the Audubon Zoo is in incredibly high standings, they have no trouble relying on the profits from entrance fees and the generosity of donors.


Bio-Facts in the Audubon Zoo Library waiting to be sorted

With such a vast array of knowledge to be had, the Education Department is an integral piece of the Audubon Zoo. One of the first exhibits you see when you enter the Zoo is the Education Discovery Walk. Interns and volunteers mostly staff the walk, who like the full time employees, seek to spread a love and awareness for nature. A person of any age could take a stroll through the park, and, thanks to the Education Department, learn something completely new. Even as an intern myself, I am still amazed at the expertise of many of the employees at the Zoo. As a keeper, one not only needs to be incredibly familiar with the animal in question, but with their natural habitat too. Most of the keepers designed and built the exhibits themselves (with the help of an on-staff carpenter). The staff of the Audubon Zoo- the keepers, curators, and even cashiers- is united under a staggering appreciation and respect for the natural world and the animals that inhabit it.


Works Cited

“Audubon Story.” Audubon Nature Institute. 2013. Web. 14 Oct. 2013. <;.

“Preserving Wildlife for Tomorrow.” Audubon Nature Institute. 2013. Web. 14 Oct. 2013. <;.

“A Commitment to the Community.” Audubon Nature Institute. 2013. Web. 15 Oct. 2013. <;.

“How Does Accreditation Work?.” Audubon Nature Institute. 2013. Web. 16 Oct. 2013. <;.

“Our Mission.” Audubon Nature Institute. 2013. Web. 16 Oct. 2013. <;








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