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Fête de la Terre kicks off with the First Louisiana Sustainability Summit

Blair Begnaud -- Thu, 04/25/2024 - 9:34am

2024 Louisiana Sustainability Summit Recap

View the program2024 Louisiana Sustainability Summit Program

Fête de la Terre is UL Lafayette's Office of Sustainability annual week long celebration of the Earth, and it was started in 2012, and it is filled with all sorts of fun events! This year’s festival kicked off on April 10th with the very first Louisiana Sustainability Summit!

The Louisiana Sustainability Summit, sponsored by Keep Louisiana Beautiful(KLB) and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Office of Sustainability, was held from April 10-12 at UL Lafayette as a kick-off to the Fete de la Terre Earth Week Celebration. The Summit is an educational experience for attendees of the resources and advancements in sustainability-focused work that exist state-wide. Topics such as environmental justice, gathering data, coastal resilience, renewable energy, community enagement, and waste management was primarily discussed.

Attendees were invited to go on a solar tour of UL Lafayette PART Lab to begin the Sustainability Summit, where participants gained firsthand insight into the sustainable solutions shaping our future. Following the tour, the Summit transitioned into a welcoming cocktail hour at Adopted Dog Brewing.


The following morning on April 11 began with breakfast, mingling, and a welcoming address from KLB's Cabell Mouton and Dr. Gretchen Vanicor, as well as her presentation on data-informed decision making. After a short break, guests learned about renewable energy and infrastructure upgrades with Louisiana Energy Partners (LAEP) discussing “Strategies for Making the Economics work for Campus Sustainability Projects,” in Session 2. The session covered the advantages of renewable energy initiatives and campus infrastructure enhancements accessible to every public university under their Cooperative Endeavor Agreement with the State of Louisiana. This engaging presentation explored the environmental, social, and economic impacts of embracing renewable energy solutions. Attendees gained insight into how these projects not only contribute to a sustainable future but also offer compelling benefits for communities and the broader economy, all within the framework of LAEP's strategic partnership with the state.

Session 3 consisted of presentations on costal loss and restoration. Speakers included Dr. Heather Stone on “Collected Memories: The Stories of the Jean Charles Choctaw Nation,” Brett Picket and Morgan Randall on “Coastal Work with CRCL,” Dr. Beth Stauffer’s “From lab bench to hatchery: advancing oyster restoration in Louisiana using modern approaches to production,” and Leigh Anne Sharp’s “Recent Observations from Louisiana’s Coastwide Reference Monitoring System (CRMS).”

Guests were served lunch as the Alumni Community Engagement portion began. Among our alumni panelists, we were able to hear from Dan Hare, Director of Community Engagement, Alumni Affairs, UL Lafayette; Paul Scelfo, Chief Regional Officer -Second Harvest Food Bank – Feeding Acadiana & SW Louisiana; Diamond Williams, Resource Development Director - Lafayette Habitat for Humanity, Inc.; Stephen Broussard, Executive Director, Bayou Vermilion District; and Marjorie Horn, Marketing and Communications Manager of United Way of Acadiana. Each organization does an unquantifiable amount of good in Acadiana and surrounding region so to hear from their perspectives and upcoming projects was incredibly enlightening. 

After the Lunch Panel, guests were led on a sustainability tour of campus and played sustainability bingo and while the tour was going on there was an University Affiliate Meeting with 9 universities representing a cross-section of academic disciplines and departments related to sustainability. Afterwards, Keynote Speaker, Marc C. Benfield, presented on “A Closer Look at Plastic Pollution and Microplastics in the Gulf of Mexico” and did a live demonstration with water from his own washer machine to look at microplactics and contaiminants under a microscope. Session 4 included presentations that covered community engaged research and scholarship information. This encompassed Dr. Brian Bolton, Endowed Chair in Finance Department of Economics and Finance, UL Lafayette, Dr. Emad Habib, Endowed Chair and Professor of Civil Engineering, LA Watershed Flood Center, UL, Dr. Kimberly Terrell, Director of Community Engagement, Tulane Environmental Law Clinic, and Dr. David Yarbrough, ​Dean of Community Service, Professor of Human Development and Family Science, UL Lafayette.


The Sustainability Summit concluded at the Hilliard Art Museum with an Eco-Art event on “Ana Mendieta Creative Conversation” led by Marla Kristicevich. This was a wonderful way to wrap up everything discussed throughout the day and bring people together through nature and art.

On April 12, The Graduate Student Sustainable Development Research Summit was held at the LITE Center where 22 Masters, Ph.D, and Ed.D students presented on their work related to sustainability. Presentations topics included "Our Shared Experiences", "The Louisiana Environment", "Safety, Security, and Technology", "Environmental Innovation", "The Human Element", and "Education and Inclusion". Students had 5 minutes to present their presentation and each presentation topic had 3-4 students. Coffee, sweets, and boxed lunch was served. 


We are so thankful for the success of our first Sustainability Summit, and would like to thank everyone who attended, led a presentation, and/or sponsored this event! 

A special thanks to our Fête de la Terre Sponsors:

Century Oak/Official Presenting Sponsors:

  • Keep Louisiana Beautiful
  • UL Lafayette Office of Sustainability 

Live Oak Partner Sponsors

  • Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Louisiana
  • Bernhard

Sapling Partner Sponsors: 

  • Republic Services 
  • Expro

Seedling Partner Sponsors: 

  • HDR
  • Eco Products
  • Backyard Sapphire Glass Recycling
  • UL Lafayette Dining Services

Sprouting Partner Sponsors:

  • Freese and Nichols
  • JMB Companies
  • Hilliard Art Museum
  • Second Harvest Food Bank
  • Designing Women of Acadiana:
  • eBikes Plus
  • UL Lafayette Office for Campus Inclusion
  • UL Lafayette Federal Credit Union
  • UL Lafayette Alumni Association

It's heartening to see the collaboration and support from various sponsors and partners, demonstrating a shared commitment to advancing sustainability initiatives in the state of Louisiana. Such partnerships are essential for driving meaningful change and fostering a culture of sustainability within communities.