Disney’s Planet Challenge is a Project Based Environmental competition For 3rd to 8th graders. And as the Program Manager, I am so excited to travel across the country this year and meet some of these incredible teachers and talented students. all working to create a planet only they can imagine. (upbeat music) On this adventure, I’m headed to Central Intermediate School In Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Between the hurricanes and the oil spills Louisiana has seen more than its share. So I was very intrigued when I heard of Mrs. Cress’ 4th grade project to preserve the Wetlands. My kids were very devastated to see the Wetlands. That were covered in oil and and that our habitat was being destroyed. I said we need to do something with the Wetlands. I said you know, what about the grasses? So we came up with a phrase called Saving the Wetlands One Plant at a Time. And we’re going to strengthen the rhizome which is the underground stem. Maybe that will help strengthen the Wetlands. What inspired you to actually, take the plunge and join Disney’s Planet Challenge this year? We have a generation of students that are, they’re indoor based. One mother told me, she said, “My child doesn’t like the outdoors. He’ll only play video games.” and I said, “well you know what, I think I’m going to change that.” (upbeat music) I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. Okay, today we’re gonna make the imitation fresh water biome. (upbeat music) So, we’re working on saving the underground root. Which is the rhizome. Trying to get that rhizome stronger. Well we’re helping the Wetlands Which will help Louisiana a bunch because it’s like a speed bump for hurricanes. The ways the Wetlands help the oceans is the Wetlands help the oceans stay clean. We’re actually doing something instead of reading about something. I think we’re gonna make a diference because it’s helping the earth. helping Louisiana. And mostly having fun. I wanted to learn more about the role of Wetlands in our Ecosystem. So I headed down to New Orleans for a swamp tour. (engine starts) Right now we’re in a swamp. And it’s a beautiful swamp. In the last 70 years or so, we’ve lost a enough wetlands to equal the size of the state of Delaware. If we didn’t have the Wetlands agricultural runoff, animal waste and sewage created by humans would go straight into the ocean. There’s a purification that’s going on. There are microbes that are only found in our marshes that can break those things down. and there are plants that can safely absorb them. Basically they are pulling those pollutants out of the system where they would otherwise be dangerous and bad to have. To see just how far reaching this project can be. I went to see my friend, Dr. Andy Stamper at Epcot’s The Seas. He was inspired to become a biologist and veterinarian by seeing the loss of Wetlands in his own home state of Indiana. Dr. Andy, can you tell us why it’s important for kids to do these kind of projects at such a young age. Those projects that students are doing are helping to guide people on how to best restore the environment. And it’s extremely important from early ages to be able to be engaged and be able to be stewards for nature. in the future. And what we’re hoping to do is to inspire children to help restore nature to it’s better self. Being surrounded by this magical world around me, it put into perspective the impact that one classroom, through creativity and big imaginations can have to make a difference for a healthier planet. I was honored to spend time with Mrs. Cress and her students.