Professional Development Tours

ACE 2017 Conference attendees may opt to participate in one of four professional development tours, designed to support the conference theme of renewing and refreshing our work, skills, and professional connections. Tours are scheduled for the afternoon of Wednesday, June 14. Pre-registration is required and additional fees apply. Tour registration is limited to conference attendees.


New Orleans Gardens

This tour features urban horticulture work in the New Orleans metropolitan area. Anna Timmermann, LSU AgCenter extension agent for Jefferson Parish will host the tour, highlighting urban Extension connections.

The New Orleans Botanical Garden was originally planned in 1930, but it wasn’t until the Works Progress Administration (WPA) began construction in the mid-thirties that the gardens really began to take form. The gardens feature a conservatory, garden study room, rose garden, butterfly garden, azalea and camellia collection, farm-to-table section, and a new living wall exhibit near the main entrance in addition to many other botanical collections and exhibits. Hurricane Katrina brought three feet of toxic water to the gardens, killing 90% of the plant exhibits. The gardens have been replanted and continue to be beautiful and fascinating to visit year-round. Susan Capley, Education Director at the gardens, will help lead the tour.

Located in City Park, the Grow Dat Youth Farm works to train young leaders to be entrepreneurs and community advocates through the experience of growing food. Each year the farm generates over 12,000 pounds of sustainable food, 70% of which is sold at local farmers markets, and the remaining 30% goes to the Second Harvest program for distribution to low-income families. The farm practices chemical-free, natural, and ecologically friendly farming methods.

David Young began Capstone Farm in the Lower Ninth Ward shortly after Hurricane Katrina as a project to bring fresh food into a food desert. Capstone provides organic produce to those that need it at little or no cost. In addition, Capstone has many beehives and sells honey at local grocery stores to fund the program. The farm has become a much needed community resource and welcome addition to the neighborhood.

Cost: $35


New Orleans Communication Firms

Get the big picture (Billboards!) down to the small details (Brand Management!). This tour features three New Orleans firms that specialize in different aspects of communications.

Lamar Advertising is one of the largest outdoor advertising companies in North America. Learn about their design process and what goes into large-scale advertising. Vivid Ink Graphics specializes in large-format printing, and every job this company creates tells a story about its clients. Tour their production facility and meet their team. Zehno works to strengthen brands and marketing communications for schools, colleges, and other education organizations. Their team has dedicated problem solvers, and Zehno likes to say they are seasoned like a New Orleans crawfish boil.   

Cost: $25 


Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium/Audubon Aquarium of the Americas

This tour features two facilities that take interactive displays to the next level. Re-energize your creativity by experiencing the exhibits, and return home with with refreshed ideas for incorporating some of these elements into your next project.

Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium is a one-of-a-kind interactive museum that includes breathtaking displays of live insects (ranging from roaches to butterflies), animated presentations to make learning about bugs “fun,” and much more. There’s even a chance to sample “chocolate chirp” cookies to commemorate your visit. Just steps away (and both within walking distance of the conference hotel), Audubon Aquarium of the Americas spans the underwater world from the Caribbean to the Amazon Rainforest to the waters that give New Orleans its lifeblood: the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico.

Cost: $45


Mardi Gras World

This tour shares the spirit and history of Mardi Gras, and it’s also the stuff graphic designers’ dreams are made of.

The Mardi Gras World tour includes video presentations about the history of Carnival in New Orleans and the chance to try on a costume or two and shoot some photos. But the bulk of the fun involves a stroll through one of famed Mardi Gras artist Blaine Kern’s “working warehouses,” where craftspeople demonstrate the process of taking concepts that sometimes begin as pencil drawings and transforming them into the elaborate Mardi Gras floats found on display in the warehouse and seen each year rolling the streets of the city. You’ll be amazed at what can be done with poster paper and some paint and glitter. Most of all, you can be inspired to imagine more of what you can do with the simplest elements.

Cost: $35


On your own

If you opt not to participate in one of the four organized conference tours, there are many other options for exploring New Orleans on your own. Here are a few starting points.


Self-guided walking tours

New Orleans has a wealth of self-guided walking tours that are free to download. They take you through neighborhoods and areas ranging from the French Quarter to the mansions of the Garden District. Grab a friend or two and learn pieces of the history of your host city. Even more, consider how the principles used in these tours could be used to make tours of your campus or another site much more appealing and engaging.



These Louisiana State Museums located on Jackson Square and flanking famed St. Louis Cathedral offer way more than a chance to take in the iconic view from the square. Interested in learning more about Hurricane Katrina? They’ve got it, along with much more. They also show you what can be done with the restoration of centuries-old buildings and a state budget to showcase a variety of aspects of the area’s history and culture.


New Orleans French Market

It’s an icon from television and films depicting the city, but it’s also one of the oldest produce markets around. Now part of a variety of shops, restaurants, and parks known as the French Market District, the New Orleans French Market still boasts a section devoted to produce and Louisiana agricultural products, as well as a cooking demonstration stage. It’s at the opposite side of the French Quarter from the hotel, so it also provides an opportunity for a stroll and to enjoy the unique architecture of the French Quarter.


Ride a Streetcar

Take a streetcar, any streetcar. New Orleans now has three or four (depending on your perspective) streetcar lines. All for $1.25 per ride (Be sure to bring correct change).