By Tobie Blanchard, LSU AgCenter
BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana FFA has two new leaders. Eric Smith is the organization’s executive director, and Cade LeJeune is its executive secretary.
Smith’s main roles will be in curriculum and governmental relations for FFA. His plans are to increase agricultural-related certifications high school students can receive through FFA.
Smith will serve on the state’s Agricultural Education Commission and work closely with Louisiana’s Workforce Investment Council and the Louisiana Department of Education.
“I want to develop more opportunities for our students to earn credentials in the agricultural field, which will improve their chances of getting hired after graduation,” Smith said.
High school students can obtain a variety of certifications in fields such as welding and carpentry. These certifications are designed to make the students job-ready. Smith’s first goal will be to increase awareness of the newly adopted statewide agritech credential.
Smith also will work with agriculture education teachers across the state to ensure students are getting the best agricultural instruction in the classroom.
Smith, who recently received his doctorate in human resource education, was an agriculture teacher at Lakeview High School in Natchitoches Parish for 14 years.
LeJeune taught agriculture education in Springfield before joining the state FFA staff. He will work on the student side of FFA — growing membership, preparing members for leadership roles and organizing events.
FFA has 9,600 members statewide, but approximately 17,000 students are enrolled in agriculture education classes in Louisiana.
“Many of these students who aren’t in FFA are missing out of the full benefits of our ag education program,” LeJeune said.
To expand the reach of the program, the state FFA officers have begun work on a year-long project to increase FFA membership in Louisiana by at least two percent during the current school year.