Amy Griffin Ouchley
Naturalist and environmental educator Amy Griffin Ouchley conducts encounters with the outdoors for students and teachers, children and adults, through workshops, field trips, and conferences, as well as programs in schools, libraries, nature centers, and museums. She received the Conservation Educator of the Year Award in 2011 from the Louisiana Wildlife Federation. She lives with her husband, Kelby, in northeast Louisiana near an overflow swamp.
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Swamper: Letters from a Louisiana Swamp Rabbit
Swamper, a fictitious swamp rabbit, lives in the bottomland hardwood forest, or overflow swamp, which is a very real environment. In twelve "letters" addressed to his human friends, Swamper shares his vivid observations about life in a Louisiana swamp. With excitement and captivating detail, he explains ecological concepts such as food webs, energy flow, decomposition, and reproduction. He recounts adventures like escaping his predators, the great horned owl and the red fox, and swimming for his life after a flood forces him to find higher ground. The alert swamp rabbit even describes the seasonal migration of birds and the monthly phases of the moon. While educating students about the interconnected life cycles found in a natural habitat, Swamper's first-hand account of the richness and value of the wetlands will also help young readers develop a deeper appreciation for this delicate ecosystem. Though written for all ages to enjoy, the content specifically aligns with life science and environmental science educational standards for 4th through 7th grades.
A glossary of key terms
Questions and a creative activity for each letter
Biologically accurate drawings of animals and habitat
Color photographs of the environment
Supplementary online resources for teachers and parents
Swamper, the swamp rabbit, wanted to answer some of the questions.
Swamper’s most important lesson:
Swamper writes, “I wrote the letters to help people learn about my ecosystem, the bottomland hardwood forest. Rabbits, spiders, butterflies, and plants all connect and interact in some interesting way in this swamp ecosystem. The web of life here is as fascinating as Silk’s spider web.”
Amy’s motivation to write the book:
I wanted to share Swamper’s letters because most Louisiana students don’t learn about the ecosystem around them, the bottomland hardwood forest. My life-long dream was to write a book about this environment and to help others become acquainted with it. Finding Swamper’s letters was a boon to this endeavor.
Amy’s most enjoyable part:
I adored discovering the muddy letters from Swamper, the swamp rabbit, in a stump out in the middle of the swamp. The amazing editors at LSU Press helped make mine and Swamper’s dream come true. Swamper seemed to enjoy sharing his world.
How does the story resonate with Louisiana?
Dozens of meandering bayous and rivers flow across the Louisiana landscape. The bottomland hardwood forest, a kind of swamp, borders these waterways and is the home for a variety of organisms. I hope that Swamper’s letters will encourage people of all ages to discover and explore the fascinating biodiversity found there. I am thankful that Louisiana’s natural world has survived the recent disasters. It remains resilient and resplendent.
What excites you about the festival?
I enjoy introducing readers to Swamper and his swamp. The Louisiana Book Festival is the perfect venue for that activity.
My presentation at the festival:
I am a naturalist and environmental educator and I want to excite both book lovers and nature lovers with Swamper’s letters and his stories about the dynamic interactions and connections in a Louisiana swamp.
I like to say: “Get a kayak and go visit the swamp!” Swamper writes: “Nature waits for you.”
From the Swamp,
Amy & Swamper
Book-loving volunteers are essential to the Louisiana Book Festival's success. Whether it's escorting authors, guiding visitors, selling refreshments, working with children in the Young Readers Pavilion or other fun and rewarding assignments, the Louisiana Book Festival wants you to join the volunteer team.