Reporters for "This Week in Louisiana Agriculture"
Co-Host & Reporter
Avery began his career in broadcast journalism the day after he graduated from New Iberia Senior High, landing a job at his hometown radio station, 1240 KANE.
While at KANE, Avery covered city and parish governmental meetings, schools and, of course, sugarcane farming. While attending The University of Southwestern Louisiana (Now ULL), Avery made the move into television. In September 1995, KATC News hired Avery as the producer of TV-3’s morning show, Good Morning Acadiana. It was there that Avery first worked with TWILA veteran A.J. Sabine.
While at KATC, Avery won his first Louisiana Associated Press award: 2nd place for spot news. In April of 1999, Avery moved to Baton Rouge to work for WAFB-TV 9 as the weekend and investigative producer.
Following the September 11th attacks, Avery was the first and only reporter to travel with a group of Louisiana volunteers called the Gumbo Krewe to Ground Zero. There, Avery documented how Cajun hospitality extended well beyond the Bayou State. It was that series, Operation: Gumbo, which won Avery his first 1st place award from the Louisiana Associated Press for an In-Depth Series.
In January of 2004, Avery became the first Louisiana reporter to cover the war in Iraq from Baghdad. Avery traveled to the Middle East with a group of Louisiana medics who worked for Med Express out of Alexandria. Their job was to set up and operate an urgent care clinic for the contractors working at the “safe-zone” around Baghdad International Airport. Coverage of that story earned Avery another award from the Louisiana Associated Press: 3rd Place for an In-Depth Series.
During the following years, Avery worked his way up to weekend anchor at WAFB. In March 2008, Avery began working for "This Week in Louisiana Agriculture" as a reporter and executive producer. “It’s the people who make a story great,” Avery says, “and agriculture is blessed with lots of great people with wonderful stories to tell.”
In his spare time, Avery plays bass guitar in a local band and enjoys watching live music
Co-Host & Social Media Specialist
For as long as she could remember, Kristen Oaks-White had a passion for two things in life: agriculture and broadcasting. It was always her goal to prove to everyone that agriculture is much more than "sows, cows and plows."
She grew up on a ranch in Calhoun, LA and showed Angus cattle for 12 years. In fact, her debut on TWILA was during "Beef Month" in 2004, when she served as the Louisiana Cattlemen's Association Queen.
From those experiences with media, Kristen decided to pursue a career in broadcast journalism at Louisiana State University. Her career at LSU diversified her experience through leadership roles and involvement in Tiger TV, Student Government, the College of Agriculture, Omicron Delta Kappa and her sorority Kappa Delta.
In 2009, Kristen graduated from LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication with a Bachelor of Arts and a minor in Agriculture Business.
During the fall of 2009, Kristen traveled the state as the sideline reporter for the Cox Sports Louisiana High School Game of the Week. In addition to her television work, she also has experience in radio broadcasting, print advertising, web design, public relations and political lobbying.
"I finally have a chance to tell the story of agriculture to everyone," Kristen says. "This is my dream job."
Executive Producer & Reporter
Neil Melancon is the executive producer of This Week in Louisiana Agriculture and former general manager of the Louisiana Farm Bureau Agri-news Radio Network (LFBARN).
Neil has been with Farm Bureau since 1996 and has served in a variety of public relations functions, including webmaster, TWILA producer and writer.
In 2003, Neil was the first reporter from TWILA to travel abroad, reporting from Japan on the status of rice trade between the two countries.
In 2005, Neil was recognized by the National Association of Farm Broadcasters for his efforts in covering the aftermaths of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Neil holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Louisiana Tech and a Master's of Mass Communication from LSU. He is married to Sherry, a biologist, and they reside in Baton Rouge.
Neil is a native of New Orleans, and in his spare time he runs a martial arts studio.
A.J. Sabine has been on the air for nearly 20 years. A New Orleans native, A.J. got his first “on air” break as a country music DJ on KXKC radio in New Iberia. Simultaneously, A.J. worked on the “Good Morning Acadiana” show at the ABC affiliate, KATC TV 3 in Lafayette, all while getting his undergraduate degree from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
From there, A.J. started telling the story of the people of Acadiana through the lens of his video camera as a news photographer at KATC. A.J.’s passion for news took him to the Midlands of South Carolina at NBC affiliate WIS-TV. At WIS, A.J. literally “spread his wings” as an airborne traffic reporter and photographer on the WIS NewsHawk helicopter.
While in the Palmetto State, A.J. covered major news events, including the 2000 Presidential Primaries, to the historic removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina State House, and the remarkable raising of the Civil War submarine, C.S.S. H.L. Hunley.
In 2002, A.J. came home to WAFB-TV 9 in Baton Rouge, as a general assignments reporter and photographer. It wasn’t long before he got the call of agriculture and brought his storytelling experience to the turn rows and open vistas of rural Louisiana.
“It’s important to give agriculture a fresh perspective,” he says. “Farming affects us all and if I can tell the story in an interesting and entertaining way, it may give someone an appreciation of what producers are up against."
When he’s not covering farm news, A.J. loves spending time with his family, cruising the interstate on his Harley, and dabbling in community theatre as an actor at the Baton Rouge Little Theatre.
Executive Producer & Reporter
Karl Wiggers grew up in Franklin Parish, splitting his summer days between baseball fields and the cotton fields of his family’s farm. The highlight of his childhood years was when the cotton pickers hit the field to bring in the year’s crop.
“Seeing the sacrifices my dad made as I grew up had a huge impact on the way I view agriculture,” Karl says. “Farmers have a tough job, and are often under appreciated by others of my generation. I’d like to help change that.”
Karl is a graduate of the University of Louisiana at Monroe where he received a bachelor’s degree in communications, with his focus being on digital media production. He wants to share his passion for agriculture through today’s technology.
Karl is involved in his church, where he serves as part of the worship team. In his free time, Karl loves to play music, attend LSU sporting events, and finding his way back home to the farm whenever possible.
Karl’s first experience with Louisiana Farm Bureau was with an internship during the summer of 2014.