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Press Release

U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey
National Wetlands Research Center
700 Cajundome Blvd.
Lafayette, LA 70506

Contact: Gabrielle Boudreaux Bodin
Phone: 337-266-8655
Fax: 337-266-8541
For Release: March 27, 2000

Linda Beyt, Conoco Win Gulf Guardian Awards

Linda Beyt portraitLAFAYETTE, LA - Linda Beyt, a former school teacher for 23 years now working at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, has received first place honors in the individual category of the Gulf Guardian competition, sponsored by the Gulf of Mexico Program.

She was one of 18 award winners in six categories of the new competition. A second-place tie winner in the business category was also from Lafayette: Conoco Inc., Gulf Coast Assets for its work in the St. Charles Field at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas. Conoco was recognized for minimizing the impact of its work on the refuges primary whooping crane territory. Conoco tied with Texaco and Fuel and Marine Marketing of New Orleans. Other categories were government, civilian/non profit, youth/education, and partnerships.

The Gulf Guardian competition is sponsored by the Gulf of Mexico Program, a partnership of federal, state and private interests dedicated to protecting and restoring the Gulf of Mexico and its coastal habitats.

"The Gulf Guardian Award is a great way for the Gulf of Mexico Program partnerships to recognize and honor the businesses, community groups, individuals, and agencies who are taking positive steps to keep the Gulf healthy, beautiful, and productive" said Jim Giattina, Gulf Program Director. "We knew there were people out there doing good things, but we were overwhelmed at the quality projects weve learned about during this first award program. The Gulf Guardian Award exemplifies what the Gulf of Mexico Program is all about - innovative solutions that come about when we pool resources and look for creative ways to positively impact our quality of life and economic well-being."

Winners will be honored at a luncheon on April 11 during the Gulf of Mexico Symposium 2000 in Mobile, Ala. The April 9-12 symposium will feature Dr. E. O. Wilson of Harvard University, the biologist credited with popularizing the concept of biodiversity. More than 1,000 participants are expected for this symposium, the largest multi-disciplinary gathering for those concerned about the Gulf. There will be more than 200 programs aimed at seven tracks: Community action, environmental public relations, education, business and industry, regulatory and management planning, local government and science and research.

Beyt was nominated for the award for her many educational contributions related to Gulf Coast wetlands. These contributions include the development of an educational CD-ROM Knee Deep in Louisiana Wetlands, biodiversity partnerships with the Museum of Natural History in New York City and helping add technology to the education curriculum at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Dr. Robert E. Stewart, Jr., director, U.S. Geological Survey National Wetlands Research Center, said, "Because of her passion for teaching about wetlands, this middle school teacher has become a recognized leader in education from Louisiana to New York, a partner in research projects from Maine to Florida and an instructor of university faculty to promote and involve technology to teaching science."

Stewart added, "Through her CD-ROM, workshops and classroom and university teaching, Linda has touched the lives of thousands of middle school children and teachers. Her ongoing legacy is to make the children of Louisiana wetland stewards of the future."

The interactive CD-ROM, designed for middle school grades, is scientifically data rich but uses humor to inform about wetlands. She developed this CD-ROM in conjunction with the Educational Technology Review Center at ULL, with sponsorship by the U.S. Geological Survey, Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program, Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Scientists from the USGS National Wetlands Research Center are featured in the CD-ROM.

The CD-ROM integrates information about Louisiana wetlands with the states current middle school science curriculum and has lesson plans, activities and Internet links. It focuses on wetland importance, habitats, issues and research. Nine thousand CD-ROMs with lab packs and lesson plans were distributed last year.

Beyt is currently instructor and trainer under THE/QUEST Grant (Technology in Higher Education/Quality Education for Students and Teachers). THE/QUEST is a three-year grant by the Department of Education to instruct preservice teachers from 19 universities in Louisiana.

She taught at Edgar Martin Middle School in Lafayette, La., from 1988-99; St. Bernard Catholic School in Breaux Bridge, La., 1982-88; and Sentinel public schools in Oklahoma, 1976-82.

As a classroom teacher, Beyt and her students volunteered in a pilot program called BioDiversity Counts, sponsored by the Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Beyt also participated in REEF Watch, a 10-day expedition with scientists to discover factors affecting coral reef biodiversity. During the expedition, she suggested a hypothesis that a scientist at Bigelow in Maine is testing.

She is developing, with the Lafayette Parish biodiversity program, a field trip at the Universitys experimental farm. She has also developed the Louisiana Wetlands Education Web site and has presented more than 50 workshops on wetlands including Project Wet, Louisiana Computing Educators, Louisiana Science Teachers Association, National Science Teachers Association, Communities Working for Wetlands and Hands on Outdoor Training Camp.

Beyt has a bachelor of science degree in education from New Mexico State University and a master of education degree from University of Southwestern Oklahoma.

For more information about the Gulf Guardian Award or the Gulf of Mexico Symposium, call Gaye Farris at 337-266-8550. See the Web site

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Note to Editors - Black and white or color photos of Linda Beyt as well as a complete list of award winners are available through Gaye Farris.

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