At almost 70 years of age Glenn Ousset has been volunteering at the Audubon Louisiana Nature Center for the past 30 years. Prior to Hurricane Katrina, the Nature Center was named one of the top five urban nature centers in the United States.
After August 2005, the Nature Center was in much need of rehabilitation. Hurricane Katrina devastated the Nature Center interpretive center, exhibits and natural forest. The 86 acres of bottom-land hardwoods and bald cypress-tupelo swamp were crippled not only by Katrina’s hurricane force winds but by several micro bursts (mini tornadoes) and approximately 10 to 12 feet of highly saline storm surge. The swamps were inundated with muddy saltwater for nearly a month and an estimated 75 percent of the forest was destroyed.
After Hurricane Katrina struck, Glenn has been unwavering in his dedication to the Nature Center, its forests and wildlife. He has spent countless hours locating, clearing and maintaining trails, removing invasive Chinese Tallow trees and planting bottom land hardwoods.
Glenn’s dedication makes him a knowledgeable team leader for groups of high school and college students in town for Spring Break and eager to help New Orleans to recover. He works with groups of 10-15 volunteers sometimes two or three times a week March through May mentoring them on the importance of removing invasive species and educating them about wetland loss and restoration in southeast Louisiana. Volunteers take this valuable information back to their home states and thanks to Glenn have a better understanding of why our wetlands are not only important to our state but the nation and the world as well.
Through a partnership of Audubon Nature Center, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and Entergy Corporation, Glenn has helped lead over 850 volunteers planting over 2,000 trees at the Nature Center. Since 2005 thousands of volunteers have helped to clear debris and remove weeds and invasive species to ensure the forests survival. Because of Glenn’s dedication and persistence the forests are replanted and beginning to grow back and the Nature Center is starting to resemble what it once was.