LSU AgCenter, College of Agriculture Announce Faculty, Staff Award Winners

by Craig Gautreaux, LSU AgCenter

BATON ROUGE, La. – The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture announced the winners of their annual faculty and staff awards at a ceremony held Dec. 13 at the LSU Student Union Theater.

Ernest Girouard received the Floyd S. Edmiston Award for his work as the coordinator of the Louisiana Master Farmer Program. He has overseen the program since 2008, and 225 farmers have been certified as Master Farmers by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry.

To become certified, farmers must attend educational programs focusing on environmental stewardship, attend a conservation field day or workshop and develop a conservation plan for their entire farming operation.

“It takes a team effort to make the Master Farmer program succeed, and I am fortunate to be surrounded by some excellent people in extension,” Girouard said. “I am also privileged to work with the most productive agricultural people in the country, and I believe they should be recognized for all the work they do in terms of conservation.”

The recipient of the Extension Excellence Award was Tina Goebel, 4-H coordinator in the AgCenter Central Region and extension parish chair of Allen Parish. Goebel has helped increase retention rates of 4-H youth in the 10 parish-area she oversees. She also serves in a leadership position with the State Performing Arts Board.

“I really think this is a reflection of the agents in my region and their hard work,” Goebel said. “I simply encourage and give direction to them when needed. They are the ones on the frontlines getting the work done.”

Yi-Jun Xu, a professor in the School of Renewable Natural Resources who specializes in hydrologic and biogeochemical modeling, received the G&H Seed Company Inc. Research Award. This award recognizes a researcher who has conducted exemplary work in the past five years.

Xu has received more than $5 million in competitive research grants, authored or co-authored 39 peer-reviewed journal articles and taught 16 graduate seminars.

“This recognition comes with a lot of support and effort from many individuals,” Xu said. “Improving and understanding water quality issues is a major task. Louisiana has nearly 500 watersheds and the largest river in North America, the Mississippi. It has several coastal rivers, making Louisiana a very diverse state in terms of hydrology.”

The Doyle Chambers Research Award winner was Jeff Hoy, a plant pathologist who has spent the majority of his 32 years with the AgCenter focusing on sugarcane diseases. One of his chief responsibilities involves developing sugarcane varieties that are disease resistant. His work has led to many varieties that have increased yield and greatly benefitted Louisiana’s sugar industry.

“I really enjoy working with people in the industry, including extension and research personnel,” Hoy said. “I also enjoy that the farming community is very family-oriented. In fact, I am now working with my own second-, and in some cases, third-generation farmers.”

The Denver T. and Ferne Loupe Extension Team Award was given to a team that has taught yoga lessons to youth at 4-H meetings and camps throughout Louisiana as well as a high school football team.

The team includes Jessica Stroope, state 4-H agent; Esther Boe, Avoyelles Parish 4-H agent; Brooke Lafargue, Allen Parish 4-H agent; Joanna Strong, Richland Parish 4-H agent; Betsy Crigler, Tensas Parish 4-H agent; Vicky Green, Bossier Parish nutrition agent; Lekeisha Lucas-Powell, East Carroll Parish 4-H agent; Elizabeth Lynn, Bienville Parish 4-H agent; Kori Meyers, St. Martin Parish 4-H agent; and Ashley Powell, Catahoula Parish family and consumer sciences and 4-H agent.

“There is a great need for self-control and stress management for young people,” Stroope said. “Yoga provides both stress relief along with physical activity. The group has supported one another as we have made inroads in communities across the state.”

A group of researchers who study the effects of insecticides on both mosquitoes and non-targeted organisms, such as honeybees and fireflies, won the Tipton Team Research Award. They are insecticide toxicologist James Ottea, medical entomologist Kristin Healy and insect physiologist Daniel Swale.

“The key to our success is that each of us brings something unique to the project,” Ottea said. “We have different training, experience and insights that allow us to approach problems from unique perspectives. The active participation and support of stakeholders — specifically the USDA Bee Physiology and Genetics Lab and the East Baton Rouge Mosquito Abatement District — have been instrumental to the success of our research.”

Christina Zito Hebert, a 4-H agent in Iberville Parish, received the Rosalie Bivin 4-H Youth Development Award. Hebert and her 4-H’ers have worked with special needs students for the past three years to create a more inclusive environment at school and in the community.

Gary Whatley, research farm supervisor at the Central Research Station in Baton Rouge, received the Ganelle Bullock Outstanding Service Award. Mitch Boudreaux, a research associate and coordinator in the School of Animal Sciences, was named the winner of the Outstanding Service Award for Associates.

Marlene Janes, a professor in the School of Nutrition and Food Sciences who specializes in food safety issues, received the Sedberry Award for Outstanding Graduate Teacher. Janes, who also serves as graduate coordinator for the School of Nutrition and Food Sciences, played an integral role in merging graduate programs from the School of Nutrition and the Department of Food Science when the two entities combined. She continues to teach a number of graduate courses.

Kristin Stair, an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Extension Education and Evaluation, received the Sedberry Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Teacher. She has been extensively involved in developing new curricula in her department and serves as a leader of the Agriculture Residential College.

Receiving the National Association of Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Teaching Award was Georgianna Tuuri, an associate professor in the School of Nutrition and Food Sciences. She has developed two new courses for graduate students and has published 10 manuscripts and 10 abstracts with students the past five years.

The College of Agriculture Tiger Athletic Foundation Outstanding Teacher Award was presented to Michele Ball, an instructor in the School of Nutrition and Food Sciences. She is known for preparing her students for careers in nutrition and encourages her students to use a research-based approach.

Healy, the medical entomologist, also received the College of Agriculture Tiger Athletic Foundation Award for the rank of assistant professors. She was recognized for taking on an ambitious amount of teaching assignments and for developing a forensics entomology course.

Glen Gentry, associate professor and coordinator of research at the Bob R. Jones-Idlewild Research Station in Clinton, was the winner of the 2016 Article of the Year for Louisiana Agriculture magazine with his article “Battling Feral Swine: Research Aims at Effective, Safe Control.”

Service awards were presented to three faculty members for their years of service on the magazine’s editorial board. They were Claudia Husseneder, professor in the Department of Entomology, Megan La Peyre, adjunct assistant professor in the School of Renewable Natural Resources, and Melissa Cater, assistant professor in the Agricultural and Extension Education and Evaluation Department.