Bruce Schultz, Page, Timothy G. | 10/4/2004 4:26:51 AM
The awards came during a ceremony Saturday evening (Feb. 14) during the first year that the livestock show was held at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales.
The Premier Exhibitor program awards high school students in 4-H and FFA programs for their outstanding knowledge and skills with livestock – whether their animals were selected as champions or not.
"This is where we actually test them on their knowledge and skills," said Dr. Theresia K. Lavergne, superintendent of the livestock show’s poultry division and a faculty member in the LSU AgCenter’s Department of Animal Sciences.
Lavergne said the entrants must take a written exam in their livestock categories, undergo a skills test, write an essay about their projects, prepare a resume about their projects and undergo an interview with panelists.
The top finalist in each category – beef, dairy, goats, poultry, sheep and swine – won a $1,000 U.S. Savings Bond, a commemorative belt buckle and a monogrammed jacket. Each of the other four finalists in each category is awarded a trophy.
LSU AgCenter Chancellor Bill Richardson said the Premier Exhibitor program, now in its seventh year, showcases the dedication and commitment of the young people to accomplish their goals under rigorous criteria.
"It just shows what today’s young people can achieve with a little direction," Richardson said. "From this competition, they have learned what it takes to succeed, and that should carry over into adulthood."
The top winners in the LSU AgCenter’s Gerry Lane Premier Exhibitor Program were:
Beef – Jordan Guice of Lincoln Parish.
Dairy – Kathy Jo Thompson, St. Tammany Parish.
Goats – Aaron Varnado, Livingston Parish.
Poultry – Christopher Shaffett, Livingston Parish.
Sheep – Amber Latiolais, Lafayette Parish.
Swine – Tate Guillotte, Iberia Parish.
LSU AgCenter Vice Chancellor Paul Coreil, director of the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service, said the event shows that the program is unique because it emphasizes more than just the animals – requiring youngsters to show what they have learned and how they have developed their skills.
"That’s the strength of our 4-H program. It sets them on a course for success," Coreil said. "But making the achievements is still up to the youngsters."
Coreil credited Gerry Lane Enterprises of Baton Rouge for establishing the endowment to fund the program.
"We are so fortunate to have people like Gerry Lane who give back so much to the state and invest in the future of our youth," Coreil said.
Other finalists, in order of placing in their respective categories, were:
Beef – Tracie Montoucet, Lafayette Parish; Ben Green, St. Tammany Parish; Tim Thibodeaux, Calcasieu Parish; and Camille Talbot, Assumption Parish.
Dairy – Lauren Tucker, DeSoto Parish; Brittany Thibodeaux, St. Martin Parish; Rebecca Robertson, St. Helena Parish; and Paul Alford II, St. Helena Parish
Goats – Katie Strecker, East Baton Rouge Parish; Rebecca Robertson, St. Helena Parish; Laremy Stilley, Livingston Parish; and Kyle Lamb, East Baton Rouge Parish.
Poultry – Robert Ballard, Livingston Parish; Christy Hutchison, Livingston Parish; Michelle Hullum, Ascension Parish; and Aaron Durr, Natchitoches Parish.
Sheep – Brandon Huval, St. Martin Parish; Charles Edwards, Union Parish; Shea Campbell, Iberville Parish; and Allison Durio, Jefferson Davis Parish.
Swine – Mia Granger, Lafayette Parish; Brandon Huval, St. Martin Parish; Blaire Landry, St. Mary Parish; and Christina Landry, St. Mary Parish.
The LSU AgCenter Livestock Show concluded Saturday evening. Next year’s show is set for Feb. 5-12, 2005.