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Native Plant Advocate of the Month: Jim Foret

Jim Foret is a man of many talents. He is currently an instructor at UL Lafayette teaching courses on plant science, urban tree management, native plants and environmental design. He is also a consulting arborist with almost 50 years of experience studying, admiring, and giving advice on everything to do with trees. His life's work has been connecting people with the beauty of the natural world. At UL he and his students created a mini prairie landscaped with native plants. As superintendent of New Iberia Parks, he expanded the educational and recreational activities. He worked with LA DOTD on the Wildflower Seed Bank Project to plant wildflowers along the I-10, I-49 and I-20 corridors and all state highways in Louisiana. Jim's father was a professor of Horticulture working with the evolving Louisiana nursery trade who eventually served as Dean of the College of Agriculture at UL. From him, Jim learned the beauty and the function of the natural landscape at an early age.

"As a kid, I loved wandering with Dad, listening to his stories, taking in the rural scenery of the prairie terrace. The farms were much smaller then, many still divided by fenced, vegetated headlands and drains with lots of pasture and many of the old homes remaining in place perhaps abandoned, but they and their barns were still common in the landscape. I love these very Elemore Morgan-esque memories. French was frequently the language spoken as we moved about. Today, industrial agriculture and developers have eliminated most of that history by replacing the small family farm with modern farming's big acreages, big equipment and precision leveling and more efficient water removal. This kind of farming coupled with developers paving over paradise meant fewer opportunities for rainwater to soak into the land, resulting in frequent flood events. Progress." Thank you, Jim Foret, for sharing your knowledge and admiration of nature with us.

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