Lock Historic Site, Iberville Museum host day of learning for 180 Lukeville students

Staff Report

The third grade classes of Lukeville Elementary School in Brusly – about 180 kids plus their teachers and chaperones – were treated to a special day of fun and learning at the Plaquemine Lock State Historic Site and the Iberville Museum on April 6. This visit marks the return of large student tours for the first time since the pandemic.

A student from Lukeville Elementary School holds a live baby alligator during a trip to the Plaquemine Locks State Historic Site. He is seen with volunteer Bailey Vidrine.

The students rotated among eight stations throughout the day, where they learned about our connection to the Mississippi River, Bayou Plaquemine and the Atchafalaya swamp.

They participated in several hands-on activities, including holding a live baby alligator; saw historic boats, learned how the Lock worked and its importance to the economy and culture of south Louisiana in the early 1900s, and enjoyed lunch on the beautiful grounds of the Plaquemine Lock site.

Students from Lukeville Elementary School, seen here in the Gary J. Hebert Memorial Lockhouse, learned about the history and operations of the Plaquemine Locks during a recent field trip. The Plaquemine Locks –  completed in 1909 after 14 years of construction – operated until the Port Allen Locks opened in 1961.

“This field trip was full of educational value for our students,” said Lukeville teacher Becky Landry, who requested the day-long field trip and was the school organizer. “They got to see first-hand what we have been studying all year and it's right here in our ‘backyard.’ Everything was planned out and ran smoothly. Several parents and students said this was the best field trip ever!”

The field trip was coordinated by the Iberville Tourism Department and its Consultant Courtney Zito-Elliott, with the assistance of Friends of the Lock (FOL) and Iberville Museum Director Abbie Carrier.

Lukeville Elementary School built cardboard boats during their field trip to the Iberville Museum, directly across from the Plaquemine Locks State Historic Site.

Special thanks to Iberville Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso, Jr. and the Iberville Council for their assistance in getting the Lock property ready for the visit; along with Mayor Edwin “Ed” Reeves, Jr. and the City of Plaquemine for making sure the grounds were mowed and neat. Also, thanks to the Plaquemine Police Department for the barricades that kept the third graders safe while crossing Main Street between the Museum and Lock site.

Also special thanks to those who volunteered and assisted in providing the educational stations: the Lock site staff Stan Richardson and Leesa Dwyer, FOL members Alan Kirkland and Mike Carringone, who led the boat station; Dan Mooney of the Baton Rouge Audubon Society and volunteer Dennis Barker, who led the birding station; the Atchfalaya National Heritage Area and workers, who led the Atchafalaya station; Gene Seneca and Bailey Vidrine, who led the alligator station; FOL member Charlene Bishop, who assisted in the Lockhouse; and Iberville Museum volunteers Rachel Rapier and Alison Nikitopoulos.

Students from Lukeville Elementary School learned about the history and rich scenery of the Atchafalaya Basin during their visit to “Atchafalaya Basin: A Journey to the Past, A Map to the Future” a 1,400 square-foot exhibit at the Iberville Musuem.

The Friends of the Lock thanks Parish President Ourso and Plaquemine Mayor Reeves for recognizing the tremendous historical, cultural and visitor value of the Lock site and for their continued support of the Lock site by providing tour guides, utilities and grounds keeping of the site.