Charles Darwin once said, “The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.”

West Feliciana High School ninth-graders from Nicole Means’ and Torrence Williams’ classes recently explored the importance of sustainability of the environment, emphasizing Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. To culminate the study unit, the students created storybooks to showcase conservation efforts through the eyes of native species of the Galapagos.

In September, Means traveled to the Galapagos Islands as part of a National Geographic Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship. She returned to share what she learned with her students. The Galapagos are an archipelago of volcanic islands west of equator in the Pacific Ocean, and they include a national park and a marine reserve. During his voyage on the HMS Beagle in the 19th century, Darwin spent time in the Galapagos as he developed his theory about evolution.

On Dec. 2, several ninth-graders from Means’ and Williams’ classes visited students at Bains Lower and Bains Elementary and shared their stories and what they learned about conservation efforts in the Galapagos.

“In turn, the elementary students connected their own knowledge to geography, recycling efforts, ecosystems and habitats, Louisiana’s conservation initiatives and much more,” Means said.

Additionally, WFHS art and cyber-literacy teacher Killiam Williams is uploading several of the storybooks in a digital format that will be available to the elementary students, and a hard copy of each book will be donated to the schools’ libraries. Some of Williams’ students created video games that feature endemic and natives species to teach the younger students about conservation efforts in the Galapagos.

“My first-graders loved the visit from the ninth-graders,” first-grade teacher Megan Viguerie said. “They thought it was so neat that students at the high school were learning about some of the same things we have talked about.”

Concerning the school visit and classroom project, Williams said, “It was such a great experience for both the students and myself to venture outside of the formal learning environment. There was a great deal of learning and teaching that took place between the high school and elementary school students.”

Means said she has been overwhelmed by the support she has received as she taught her students about the importance of becoming geoliterate citizens.

“My original expectations for this project have been far surpassed,” Means said. “I am humbled to be part of such a wonderful school family.”