Hello from the Crescent City!
by: Meghan Duchene
Although it was the final day of travel for our group, it was nonetheless a busy one! We started off bright and early this morning with a visit to Coffee Call near LSU campus – my first beignet of the trip, and how I both began and ended my final day in Louisiana.
Beignets were a pretty exciting thing forme during the trip – hence why I got them twice…no calories were counted on this trip, let me tell you that much. Beignets reminded me of funnel cakes from the fair, plus five pounds of powdered sugar. Not kidding. Check out the picture from the end of the day, and you’ll understand the mess involved. Regardless, they were delicious!
So, after I succeeded in not making a total mess of my beignets in front of Louisiana Collegiate FFA members, they shared with us a bit about their state FFA program. I found it very interesting that their state CDE contests are not all held in conjunction with their state convention…and that they have a ten-
person state officer team, including a parliamentarian – shout out to other fans of Robert’s Rules of Order!
After learning some differences between our FFA programs, our group then went to hear about Louisiana agriculture at the Louisiana Farm Bureau. Being a Minnesota girl at heart, it was crazy for me to think that corn wasn’t a common crop in Louisiana…however, more and more corn is being planted in the state today than in the past. However, this has put pressure on the cotton crop, which has seen a great decrease in acreage due to increased corn production. To show the warmth we’ve experienced down here these past few days – the state is half done with their corn planting already!
After another fun drive, we made our way to the Insta-gator Ranch and Hatchery between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. This was a highlight of the trip for many of the group, as we got to play with baby alligators! Louisiana has 4 million people…compare that to the 3 million alligators that they are also home to! This ranch was started as part of conservation efforts to restock alligators into the wild, therefore having all ranges of alligator sizes, providing a unique insight to the lifespan of alligators. But the best part was interacting with the alligators…
Once we made it back to New Orleans, it was time for a final night on the town. While we didn’t get to the French Market in time to haggle with the merchants there, I did get another New Orleans tourist attraction under my belt – the Café Du Monde! <insert Café picture> I finished out the day with a great group of ladies eating beignets and walking around the French Quarter – what a wonderful way to end our spring break trip! Aaaand here’s the reason you don’t eat beignets in public….
Au revior from New Orleans!
Baby alligators, four foot alligators, and big alligators oh my!
by: Jaclyn Dingels
Today we toured an alligator ranch (not a farm) and saw many, many alligators. First we learned the difference between alligators and crocodiles. Alligators have round snouts whereas crocodiles have narrow noses and alligators only show their top teeth when their mouth is closed and crocodiles show both top and bottom teeth when their mouth is closed. Alligators make many different leather products such as purses, belts, wallets, and shoes, but the most popular alligator leather product is straps for watches.
Several of our group also had the chance to wrestle baby alligators that were about two feet long. They learned how to properly catch baby alligators because even though they are small and may seem harmless, but the tour guide said that even baby alligators can thrash and throw their jaws (and thus their skull) and potentially break your jaw, hand, or whatever else happens to be near the thrashing gator. Alligators also hatch depending on what temperature the eggs are incubated at. If they are held at 96 degrees or above the eggs will be primarily males and if they are held at below 82 degrees they will be primarily female. However the guide did say that the optimum temperature for healthy alligators and a mix of both sexes. I learned a lot about alligators!
It’s a Ranch…NOT a Farm!!
by: Jenny Frederick
I never figured there was a much of a difference between the two, but apparently, when you are dealing with alligators, there is a HUGE difference, and your guide will let you know! Our crew went and visited the Insta-Gator alligator ranch and hatchery in New Orleans and learned all about gator ranching. The most important fact being that they are in fact a ranch, not a farm. The Insta-Gator ranch goes out yearly and collects alligator eggs from the wild, fending off crabby momma gators all the while, and then brings those wild eggs back to hatch. A FARM, on the other hand, have their eggs laid right on their farm that they hatch, instead of collecting them. After the long moment of learning all about the ranch and the life of a gator at the ranch, and petting a baby gator, we got to go into the “barns” of the year old alligators and feed them…….Marshmallows! I swear I have never had so much fun as throwing those things at alligators and watching them snap ‘em up. Watching others play with baby alligators was so cute, especially those who were slightly afraid of these adorable little things. They were only a foot and a half long and their mouths were taped shut, but some had a hard time handling the squirmers. We also got to get up close to a four-foot alligator, which was cool. The south and their agriculture are so different from Minnesota, and it just amazes me every time we run into something as different as this.