children deserve a healthy habitat and we are responsible for ensuring they get it and know how to protect it.”
These programs and activities conducted by MEF add up to thousands of lives that have been touched by Michelle. Examples of Michelle's Earth Foundation's recent work include:
Michelle's Earth Sunflowers in New Orleans (MESUNOLA):
MESUNOLA is a phytoremediation project in New Orleans, Louisiana. MEF volunteers are planting sunflowers to remediate soil contaminated by lead that was present before Hurricane Katrina and exacerbated by the flooding.
MESUNOLA's all volunteer staff initiated its own scientific, labor-intensive experiments by planting over 41 plots of land throughout the city of New Orleans.
MESUNOLA is currently preparing contaminated plots for more extensive study using plants other than sunflowers in cooperation with Louisiana State University. MESUNOLA concluded after almost a year of sunflower plantings and soil testing by Dr. Ed Bush, LSU professor of Agronomy at LSU, that sunflowers have been effective in reducing the soil toxicity of many contaminated lots.
Michelle's sister Yasmine Rassam is living in New Orleans as our on-site fund raiser, supervisor, coordinator of volunteers and partnership builder.
MESUNOLA's Project Director, Ian Willson, along with Vash Williams and Gail Fendley, continue planting on contaminated lots that will eventually become home sites for affordable housing that's being built by Jericho Housing and the Episcopal Diocese of New Orleans.
The MESUNOLA project is currently seeking funding to allow it to continue its soil remediation efforts and education of the New Orleans community about the risks of lead poisoning.
As an extension of the MESUNOLA project, Michelle's Earth Foundation also leads programs to engage students from elementary to high school, to college and beyond:
Taylor School Elementary School, Arlington, VA: Diane Gardner-Quinn and Gail Fendley explained dangers of lead in the soil and helped students plant sunflower seeds in cups to be transplanted in New Orleans for MESUNOLA. H-B Woodlawn, Arlington, VA: Michelle's High School in Arlington, VA: Dave Soles led field trip to New Orleans of Environmental Club to clear lots, till and plant sunflower seeds on contaminated lots for MESUNOLA. Earth Day 2008 in Washington, DC and at Salisbury University in MD: MEF displayed a hands-on, interactive exhibit explaining MESUNOLA's mission in New Orleans.
Coral Reef Conservation Research and Outreach in Quintana Roo, Mexico: MEF volunteer Heather Spence created an educational program and book entitled 'Marine Life of the Mexican Caribbean' to inform tourists about local coastal floral and fauna. A main part of her project is the preservation of coral reefs there and educating children about the ecosystems in the coral reefs, which are being destroyed. Spence makes weekly presentations of the book at hotels in the Acapulco resort region. Spence has also has teamed up with the head of the education department of the Parks expand these presentations.
Green-Collar Environmental Jobs Training, Cairo, Egypt: MEF Board Member Thomas Henry Culhane, a professional Sustainable Development Consultant