The Louisiana Wildlife Federation has selected Nicholls State University Biology Majors Faith Boutte and Alexandra Himel to join the 4th cohort of the Edgar Veillon Conservation Leadership Corps (CLC).
LWF defines the Leadership Corps as a developmental program providing expert training for future leaders in conservation. The program is only available to undergraduate students enrolled in Louisiana colleges and universities.
Boutte, a junior, and Himel, a sophomore, are among the 22 undergrads selected from 10 Louisiana universities.
Each student will learn about real-world conservation issues from current and former natural resource experts across public, nonprofit, and private sectors.
This year, the cohort will focus on habitat conservation. Students will increase their knowledge in conservation policy and build leadership and advocacy skills by developing presentations, analyzing case studies, and collaborating on projects.
Boutte learned about CLC when a representative spoke at a Nicholls Biology Society in the Fall. Their message grabbed the attention of the Zachary native, whose interest in conservation can be traced back to an Earth Day documentary on Disney with stops in 4-H and a LUMCON summer program along the way. She is working on research regarding the population dispersity of Asian carp in Louisiana – in partnership with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries – and another which uses genetics to study mosquitoes. As her mother has progressed through law school, her interests in conservation have expanded even further to include policy.
“I hope to learn how to effectively use my voice to advocate for issues that matter to me, such as invasive species regulation and sustainability practices to keep the Louisiana waterways that I enjoy, bountiful and diverse for years to come,” she said. “I was excited about being selected. I look forward to learning from professionals and leaders in the industry about how I can be a part of conservation efforts in Louisiana.”
Nicholls Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Tim Clay sought Himel to tell her about the opportunity because he knew of her passion for coastal science. Himel said she saw an opportunity to network with other students, professionals, and organizations from around the state who had similar goals in mind for the environment.
“I was extremely happy when I got the email that I was accepted but also nervous because leading up to this leadership group I have not had too much experience with conservation efforts,” the Schriever native said. “I am looking to learn about new ways that we can promote conservation in our community and how to play a role in conservation efforts around our state.”
Nicholls Biology Department Head Dr. Quenton Fontenot said that Boutte and Himel are two of the best students in the program and are worthy of this opportunity.
“This is going to be great for them because they will be able to build their professional network while gaining invaluable career experience outside of the classroom,” he said.
For more information on Nicholls Biology, visit nicholls.edu/biology.