This summer the Louisiana State University Superfund Research Program (LSU SRP) Research Translation Core partnered with the Buddy Program. The Big Buddy Program, a nonprofit youth organization in Baton Rouge, offers programs and services that provide enriching, positive, and educational programs for youth in the Baton Rouge community.
Big Buddy’s Summer Enrichment Academy serves youth who are in grades K-4th by engaging them in enrichment activities and academic instructional exercises that reinforce the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Over 6 days, the LSU SRP Research Translation Core hosted a total of 136 students who learned about sun safety, household hazardous chemicals, and respiratory health, topics that fit well with the 2014 Summer Enrichment Academy theme, Healthy Habits. During the visits, students had the opportunity to participate in hands on activities and demonstrations, including lung and breathing exercises, and also the opportunity to take a trip to the LSU Dairy Store.
LSU SRP Research Translation Coordinator, Kelli Palmer, served as a workplace mentor to Marchelle Richard, through Big Buddy’s Level-UP! Mentoring and Workforce Development Summer Internship Program. Level-UP! is a work skills program that provides high-school students with the opportunity to explore, discover, and experience professional life first hand by working in a professional environment with a workplace mentor. Richard, a recent high school graduate, interned with the LSU SRP Research Translation core for 20 hours a week for one month and helped to develop the presentation used for Big Buddy’s Summer Enrichment Academy. Richard also attended the programs Tool Time Thursday Workshops each week which were aimed at teaching interns life tools such as business acumen, punctuality, proper attire, financial management, and professional and leadership skills. During one of the Tool Time Thursday workshops, LSU Research Translation Core leader, Maud Walsh, spoke with 106 high school students about the LSU SRP and about environment-related majors at LSU.
The LSU SRP and the Big Buddy Program are currently discussing future partnerships, which may include assisting Big Buddy with the design and implementation of a program on science for middle school students and the submission of grant proposals to support the activities.