Grounds Work & Habitats
At the University of New Orleans, we strive to use our land strategically and sustainably while improving habitats for native flora and fauna.
Our commitment to adding rain gardens, pocket parks, and more to our campus stands to improve the lives of our neighbors. With various green infrastructure projects, we aim to manage storm water and restore the native ecosystem. As stated in the UNO Campus Master Plan, we must embrace the long-term interests of our community when approaching beautification and grounds work.
Native plants support pollinators, birds, and other native animals that have co-evolved with their environment. Many insects and animal species depend on native plants for their survival! Because these plants have adapted to the local environment, they require less maintenance and help with storm water management, passive solar energy use, and water conservation—all while providing space for our community to enjoy UNO's beautiful campus.
Current & Pending Native Plant Gardens
|#1||UNO Office of Research
|Administration Entrance||Plant List||Completed|
|#2||Christopher Belser||Merrick/Latter & Blum Patio||Plant List||Completed|
Privateer Pocket Parks
Privateer Pocket Parks is a new initiative on campus that asks volunteer students, faculty, and staff to "adopt" small gardens or landscaped areas on campus and improve them through the addition of rain gardens, native plants, bird houses, and more. Contact Keep UNO Beautiful for more information, or fill out the form below to adopt your own park!
Current & Pending Parks
|#1||Administration Courtyard||UNO Office of Research||In the center of the Administration Building and the Administration Annex||Plant List||Completed|
|#2||Fine Arts Park||School of the Arts: Fine Arts||Entrance to the Fine Arts Building||Plant List||Completed|
Map of the Parks
Go to the UNO Sustainability Map to see the locations of all current and pending Privateer Pocket Parks.
The Privateer Pocket Park program provides resources for increasing the number of native plants on campus in order to improve the biodiversity, sustainability, and beauty of our campus.
Regular maintenance of these parks will be key to their success. Implementing a Privateer Pocket Park is not enough—volunteers must be willing to:
- Keep the area litter-free
- Remove weeds, as necessary
- Water the plants until they are established
Birds, Bees, & Butterflies
New Orleans is a key stopover for migrating birds!
However, we also rank as one of the most deforested cities in the nation. The decline in native plants imperils local species that cannot survive without them. Pollinators, in particular, have greatly decreased in population size due to loss of their habitats and to the excessive use of insecticides.
Keep UNO Beautiful wants to attract more butterflies, birds, and other native wildlife to UNO's campus using wildlife habitat gardens.
Basic Needs for Wildlife Habitat Gardens:
- Food source(s)
- Water source(s)
- Places to breed, raise young, and multiply
- Sustainable landscaping
By increasing biodiversity, we can even use the UNO campus as a living lab—engaging our community and beautifying our place of work and study!
6/14/22: UNO student artists paint on-campus mural to draw attention to climate change
UNO student artists paint on-campus mural to draw attention to climate change
In Spring 2022, Keep UNO Beautiful and the UNO Office of Research funded a student art project that transformed an otherwise nondescript set of utility doors into a vibrant and poignant art installation drawing attention to local birds affected by climate change.
The collaboration was inspired by the National Audubon Society’s Audubon Mural Project and spearheaded by Carol Lunn, UNO’s assistant vice president for research & economic development in the Office of Research. She is also the university affiliate coordinator for Keep UNO Beautiful.
"In the fall of 2021, I was on a Zoom with a co-worker, and she had a beautiful image of birds as her background, with the logo for the Audubon Mural Project," Lunn said.
The co-worker was Elizabeth Sigler, assistant to the vice president for research & economic development and director of the Center for Undergraduate Research & Creativity.
"After the meeting, we spoke about the mural project, and later I researched it online," Lunn said. "The more I reviewed the site, the more passionate I became about implementing something similar on UNO’s campus!"
As noted on their website, the Audubon Mural Project is informed by Audubon’s groundbreaking science report "Survival By Degrees," which found that climate change threatens 389 birds species—at least half of all North American birds—with extinction.
Lunn hoped that a mural similar to Audubon’s on UNO’s campus would generate attention for UNO’s sustainability initiatives while getting students involved in an in-person project, once classes came back on campus.
Working together with partners nationwide
But realizing this idea required extensive collaboration with various partners. Lunn identified the best location for the mural by walking campus with staff members on her team, and the planned location was approved by Deborah Hadaway, associate vice president for UNO’s Facility Services.
Next, Lunn needed to find UNO artists who could take her concept and implement it. She reached out to Kathy Rodriguez, assistant professor of fine arts at UNO. Rodriguez offered to incorporate the mural as a class project in her spring Painting II course.
As part of the Painting II curriculum, students researched the topic, submitted designs in a competitive selection process, then collectively implemented the selected mural design.
Rodriguez said, "Working collaboratively with so many moving parts on this mural, the first of its kind in Louisiana, has given not only the class but all members of the UNO community a rich and expansive opportunity for learning. I’m grateful to be able to share my experience painting in this format with our students and to learn from them."
With a plan in place, Lunn and Rodriguez reached out to the Audubon Mural Project in New York—and they were quickly connected to several experts who agreed to speak with Rodriguez’s students.
Avi Gitler, one of the co-founders of the Audubon Mural Project, joined Rodriguez’s Painting II class remotely and gave a presentation on the original project. Dr. Erik Johnson, director of bird conservation for Audubon Delta, joined remotely and discussed the importance of the region to local and migratory bird populations as well as the threats posed by climate change.
"Erik is also a talented photographer, and our art students had as many questions about his camera and lenses as they did about the birds!" Lunn laughed.
Nic Dixon, an outreach associate with Audubon Delta, joined the class on-site to document the painting process and interview the students and staff members involved.
Student painters included Lydia Barbry, Zen Castro, Trinity Jackson, Rowan Lambert, Jamie Risbourg, Larrencia Smit, Rebekah Tomblin, Estelle Vanthier, and Daneia Williams.
Julie Landry, office manager for the Office of Research, also photographed and videoed the painting process. She further assisted with the administrative efforts of acquiring the painting supplies.
"So, there is obviously a lot of networking occurring here," Lunn said. "This was all done very organically and in a relatively short amount of time, thanks to technology that enabled free exchange of ideas and dedicated people who love what they do. The hours spent coordinating and sharing knowledge go well beyond what is mentioned here."
Student-driven mural installation features threatened pine warblers
After listening to the guest speakers from Audubon, Rodriguez’s students set to work researching the birds listed in "Survival by Degrees." Each student designed and painted a small-scale idea for a mural. Lunn worked with a committee including the university’s President John Nicklow to select the winning design from all submissions.
Jamie Risbourg, a junior majoring in studio arts, submitted the winning design.
"When I enrolled in this class, I had no idea that we would be doing a mural," Risbourg said. "I have done murals in the past, but on my own. I have never gotten a chance to be a part of a group project for a mural. So, this is really exciting, to not only be involved but, now that this design of mine has been chosen, I get to maybe help oversee some of what is happening as well."
And she did! Throughout the collaborative painting process, Risbourg advised and directed her fellow students, all of whom participated in painting the mural Risbourg designed.
The mural features three pine warblers, one of the bird species listed in "Survival by Degrees" with the highest vulnerability to climate change in Louisiana.
In Risbourg’s mural, the pine warbler is shown in its natural habitat of pine trees along with some of the insects it eats. The pine warbler is a bird commonly found on UNO’s campus—but it is at risk of disappearing.
According to the report, if action is not taken to hold off climate change, a quarter of the pine warblers’ range will be lost as the average temperature warms by 1.5 degrees. 38% of their range could be lost with two degrees of warming, and 59% could be lost with three degrees of warming.
For more information about Risbourg and her experience with painting the mural, watch the Office of Research’s video spotlight on her.
At this time, UNO’s pine warbler mural stands in tribute to the national Audubon Mural Project—but Keep UNO Beautiful has been working with project coordinators to explore opportunities for an official partnership.
Improving ecosystems with native plant gardens
Even so, the mural on its own did not satisfy Lunn’s ambitious plans for the area.
"To create a complete project, I committed to installing a native plant garden next to the mural, so we could tie in art with a complete eco-system," Lunn said. "I met with Dan Scheiman, a Plants for Birds program manager with Audubon Delta in Arkansas. He gave me some great information, and he set UNO up in the Spring 2022 Louisiana Native Plant Sale, so people could donate plants right to our garden!"
According to the Audubon website, the Plants for Birds program is "designed to help inform and encourage individuals and communities to grow native plants that benefit wildlife. By adding native plants in one’s yard, balcony, container garden, or public space, individuals can not only attract more birds but give them the best chance of survival in a modern landscape of fragmented habitat, and in the face of climate change."
In addition to receiving the native plant donations, Lunn worked with Tammany Baumgarten, a licensed horticulturist, owner of Baumgardens, Inc., and president of the Native Plant Initiative of Greater New Orleans. Thanks to their partnership, the landscaped area on the eastern side of the UNO Administration Annex is now a native plant garden designed to attract birds, bees, and butterflies.
"Audubon helped make UNO’s campus a living lab—that allowed students to implement what they learned in the classroom—all while beautifying campus and bringing attention to environmental issues," Lunn said. "This was a successful semester with amazing teamwork!"
Go to the UNO Sustainability Map to see the locations of all bird houses, bee hotels, and Monarch Way Stations.
Tree Planting Projects
- 58 trees and shrubs planted at the Fine Arts Woodlot on January 29, 2022
- 8 trees planted at the Fine Arts Woodlot on April 1, 2022
- 43 perennials planted at the Fine Arts Woodlot and 37 trees planted at the Liberal Arts Woodlot on December 3, 2022
- 37 trees planted at the Liberal Arts Woodlot on January 28, 2023
For lists of the above trees, visit the UNO Birding page and read about the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation Urban Bird Treaty Grant.