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2014 Student Poetry Contest Winners

As part of Wetlands Week, the CPRA and 4-H Youth Wetlands Program sponsored a poetry contest for students. This year’s theme was: “Louisiana’s Coast: What does it mean to you?”

Thank you to the more than 400 students from around the state who took the time to craft wonderful, heartfelt poems, and congratulations to this year’s winners.

Click each winner’s name to view his or her poem.

Upper Elementary Division
Place Name Age City
1st Stephen Embrey 11 Ruston, LA
2nd Nikos Verlenden 10 New Orleans, LA
3rd Eleanor Guichet 10 New Orleans, LA


Middle School Division
Place Name Age City
1st Daniel Guillie 14 River Ridge, LA
2nd Caitlin McFarland 14 New Orleans, LA
3rd Emma Beauchamp 14 Saint Francisville, LA


High School Division
Place Name Age City
1st Meredith Perniciaro 15 River Ridge, LA
2nd Gilberto Sotres 16 New Orleans, LA
3rd Madison Pillaro 16 New Iberia, LA


1st Place Upper Elementary
The Amazing Louisiana Coast
By: Stephen Embrey

My coast, so broad, so wide
The ocean blows side to side.

The coast, my life my soul,
Ocean depths, black as coal.

“Stop the erosion, stop the decay”
I shout to the ocean waves.

Save the creatures, crabs and all,
Don’t let them die like the ones they are.

Let us enjoy the coast,
Let us brag, let us boast.

This is the time to stop and savor,
Drop the tools for all labor.

Enjoy our beautiful coast,
For it might be gone in our futuristic most.


2nd Place Upper Elementary
Our Under Water World
By: Nikos Verlenden

The waves crash through the Gulf,
The water,
As green as an emerald,
Is the home to the most beautiful of creatures —
The shrimp, which float through the current,
The fish that swim through the muddy waters.
The one thing that beats them all,
Is the art piece they make,
The amazing world we never see,
Always flowing in harmony.
Beneath the waves is a palace of blue
To house the creatures of the Gulf.
For things so big and things so small,
A perfect under water world.


3rd Place Upper Elementary
The Adventurous Bayou
By: Eleanor Guichet

Cypress roots above the land
Bugs fly here and there
Iris in my hand

Mushy mud against my feet
Pelicans gliding
Finding fish to eat

Moist humid air in my lungs
Lizards crawl up trees
Snakes hiss with their tongues

A green blanket over Earth
Some blue ribbons flow
It gives my mind new birth


1st Place Middle School
Fading Isle
By: Daniel Guillie

Papa closed his eyes as if to recapture
the carefree days of his childhood
the scenic drive down Hwy. 1 to Grand Isle
towering oak trees, brown pelicans, blue heron, snowy egrets
welcoming weekend families along the seven mile stretch
dawn brings the first of many fishing adventures on
“the island”

Specs, black drum, sheephead
long treks through the marsh, scooping up shrimp
carefully looking out for cotton mouths and alligators
evenings spent swatting mosquitoes, catching lightning bugs
falling asleep in the hammock listening to stories of Jean Lafitte
Like papa, who loved it so much
“the island”

fades away


2nd Place Middle School
Wetlands: Guardian of Louisiana
By: Caitlin McFarland

The coast,
full of drips and drops
mingled with the buzzing and clicking
of the insects of the thick, deep wild.

The spongy ground,
that sinks beneath your boot,
like the flesh of a sleeping animal,
lounging in the shade.

The coast,
a storm buffer to the fragile cities
that lie behind the green trees,
hung with gray moss.

The great protector of the exposed and naked
civilization of internet and coffee shops,
of loved ones and your mother’s famous
Louisiana jambalaya, as you sit around the table
on a warm summer night.

The coast,
full of wet and wild life,
flourishing in the dense and muggy air.

That Louisiana wetland coast,
my home.


3rd Place Middle School
The Place I Love the Most
By: Emma Beauchamp

There is a place, a place meant for me,
We call it a Gulf, get it straight, not the sea.
Waves splash against boats, a magnificent sight,
Brown pelicans and other birds take off in flight.
Fish swim beneath its unpredictable surface,
When I come out on a boat, I can’t feel nervous.
Hot sun beats down, giving new freckles and burning my face,
I love the way the air smells in this place.

I sit in a tree at our camp, at the coast,
Deciding this is the place that I love the most.
From my rope swing that hangs from the old oak trees,
To the bayou’s Spanish moss and cypress knees.
From oyster shells that litter lost lives on levees,
To fresh fried fish, makes us crumbly and messy.
From shrimp boats filled with shrimp, with help from above,
To our shed that sits in the water because of a hurricane’s love.

Could all this be gone, the love, the culture, the food?
Could all just vanish by my child’s first moon?
Our coast defines us, makes Louisiana what we are,
Why do we let it fall like a dying star?
This land is our home, this is our coast.
It’s the place all Louisianan’s love the most.


1st Place High School
Laissez Le Bon Temps Rouler
By: Meredith Perniciaro

“Let the good times roll”
It’s the motto of my Louisiana people,
It helps us to remember
A different time, a different place, or a different person
But for me…
I think of the Louisiana coast
I think of the old camps on the water
The fishing with family
The birds soaring across the bayous
The crawfish boils
I think of every moment of joy
And then the hurricanes
I think of every moment of sadness
Like those hurricanes that chip away at our coast
But not the people
Those hurricanes have never taken away the joy of the people of Louisiana
Those windy disasters brought us even closer to finding a way
To finding a way to save our wetlands
And slowly, very patiently
We will find a way to solve this problem
So that the people of Louisiana can once again say,
“Laissez le bon temps rouler.”


2nd Place High School
By: Gilberto Sotres

Louisiana, home of Jazz, Mardi Gras, and the Big Easy
Yet the most ignored thing is the coast of our state
If it is ignored there will be no Big Easy
Just ignorance
Blinded by profit
Blinded by greed
Sweet hot southern sun
Beaming down on the coast
Shelter, refuge, and concealment
Mother to our culture
Our home
This is my Louisiana


3rd Place High School
Coastal Paradise
By: Madison Pillaro

A swaying sea of brown and green
Filled with life often unseen
Majestic home to valuable life
An innocent victim of nature and human strife

Clothed in silence and mysterious grace
Where birth and death interlace
A blue heron sings its ancient song

Tupelo cypress bend their weathered knees
Peering from dark and murky seas
A water-logged wilderness
Dressed to impress

Bright dragons in blues and greens
Hunt their prey over primordial streams
Designed by our creator’s hand
A fragile and essential land

Where bobcats, black bear, and nutria thrive
A paradise that must survive
Through it flows the land’s life water
Slowly bleeding into the depths of sea

The picture changes from hour to hour
As day draws close where the cypress tower
The creatures of the night begin their flight
As the Louisiana sun extinguishes her light

As this ancient land ends its day
Its hope is that human kind will allow it to stay
Set aside dreams of wealth
To protect this treasure renewed stealth.