Perhaps more than any other state, Louisiana resembles its own nation, with a unique and vibrant culture that is both exotic and welcoming. The state has had it share of hard times, but it will take a lot more than mere hurricanes to keep Louisiana down. Like a phoenix from the ashes, New Orleans has risen from the carnage. Its rich cultural mix of European, Caribbean and African influences is as alive and exciting as ever. Louisiana’s other cities boast a host of attractions as well. Baton Rouge offers a riverfront casino, Louisiana State University’s main campus and the Shaw Center for the Arts. In northwestern Louisiana, Shreveport is home to the Antioch Baptist Church, which was founded in 1866 and is listed in the National Register of History Places. Louisiana abounds in exotic wildlife. Nature lovers flock to Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge to observe alligators, white-tailed deer and the tens of thousands of migratory birds that pass through the area. Louisiana’s saltwater estuary, called Lake Ponchartrain, has inspired scores of songwriters. Musical scribes such as Jimmy Buffet, Jelly Roll Morton, Sheryl Crow and George Strait have invoked its name in their songs. Northwestern State University is home to Louisiana’s oldest state supported nursing program, having first opened its baccalaureate program for nursing students in 1949.