Paul Coreil, Coolman, Denise, Roberts, Kenneth J. | 10/10/2006 12:22:48 AM
News Release Distributed 11/19/2003
OAK GROVE – Representatives from the Cooperative Extension Services in Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi met last week (Nov. 13) to discuss how and when they will bring educational and outreach programs to the economically depressed Mississippi Delta region.
The meeting came about as the result of an agreement signed this spring in which universities in the three states agreed to share knowledge and expertise to bring such programs to the region.
That memorandum of understanding between the LSU AgCenter, Mississippi State University and the University of Arkansas was signed in May and says the Cooperative Extension Services operated by those land-grant universities will participate in multi-state programs directed at childhood obesity, workforce preparedness, Master Farmer programs and rural community development.
In the latest meeting, representatives from the three states met with members of the Foundation for the Mid South, which is headquartered in Jackson, Miss., to discuss Phase 1 of the project.
"The people we are trying to reach are what I refer to as those with ‘unheard voices’," said Dr. Ken Roberts, associate vice chancellor of the LSU AgCenter. "These are people whose needs may not be met unless we help them."
Lionel "Bo" Beaulieu of the Foundation for the Mid South agreed.
"We’re trying to provide more opportunity for those who have had no voice in the past, to have a voice and be heard," Beaulieu said.
Parishes and counties targeted for the programs during Thursday’s meeting are Morehouse, East Carroll and West Carroll parishes in Louisiana; St. Francis and Chicot counties in Arkansas; and Coahoma, Le Flore and Washington counties in Mississippi.
The first phase of the programs will consist of efforts dealing with leadership development, community asset mapping, child-care training, financial literacy and strategic planning.
That phase is expected to begin in February 2004, said Beverly Divers-White of the Foundation for the Mid South. And the initial memorandum of understanding between the three universities will be in effect for three years.
Dr. Paul Coreil, LSU AgCenter vice chancellor, said the educational programming is a result of the three state agencies’ "passion to help people," adding that the collaboration among the three states will help to reach more people.
"We will be able to use our talents from across three states to bring excellence to an area that really needs help," Coreil said. "By working together, we will be able tap into more resources."
Statistics for the Delta Region show the total population for the region in 2002 was more than 10 million. The total number of jobs in 2000 was only 5.4 million, and the average poverty rate in 1999 was 17 percent.
In addition, other statistics for the area show some of the problems to be faced:
–In Arkansas, 24.7 percent of the population 25 years and older in 2000 had no high school diploma, compared to a 19.6 percent average across the United States. In addition, only 16.7 percent of the population had a bachelor’s degree or higher – compared to 24.4 percent U.S. average.
–Louisiana statistics weren’t substantially different in 2000. More than 25.2 percent of those 25 and older had no high school diploma – a rate even higher than Arkansas. And only 18.7 percent of the population had a bachelor’s degree or higher, which rates above Arkansas but still well below the U.S. average.
–In Mississippi, 27.1 percent of the population 25 years and older in 2000 had no high school diploma and only 16.9 percent had a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Other statistics can be found at the Foundation for the Mid South’s Web page at www.fmsindicators.org. Additional information about the research and educational programs of the LSU AgCenter can be found at www.lsuagcenter.com or by visiting your parish LSU AgCenter office.
Paul Coreil at (225) 578-6083 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Ken Roberts at (225) 578-578-2391 or email@example.com
A. Denise Coolman at (318) 644-5865 or firstname.lastname@example.org