New class begins LSU AgCenter leadership program

Robert Soileau, Bogren, Richard C.  |  1/16/2008 8:58:17 PM

News Release Distributed 01/17/08

Twenty-five men and women from across Louisiana began a two-year venture in the LSU AgCenter’s Agricultural Leadership Development Program when they attended their first class last week (Jan. 8-10) in Baton Rouge.

"We believe investing in people is the way to ensure a vibrant future for agriculture and for the state," said LSU AgCenter Chancellor Bill Richardson. "Our alumni from this program have gone on to become state leaders."

Established in 1988, the Ag Leadership Program provides educational opportunities for potential leaders involved with agriculture and agribusiness, according to Dr. Bobby Soileau, who directs the program for the LSU AgCenter. Since its inception, more than 300 people have graduated from the program.

"This is our 11th group," Soileau said of the class that began in 2008. "The curriculum includes 10 seminars during two years of study – seven on the LSU campus in Baton Rouge and three trip seminars."

The first trip seminar is to Washington, D.C., to meet with the country’s leaders in agricultural policy. Another trip to the central coast of California offers class members an opportunity to learn about environmental and land use policies that have an effect on agriculture. The final seminar is an international study tour during which the group learns about another country’s agricultural, economic and social systems.

"The international study tour is a great opportunity for class members to learn about another culture,” Soileau said. “They visit with farmers, government officials, agribusiness professionals and the citizens. In the past we have taken our classes to Europe, South America and Asia, including China.”

The program is funded through endowments from the Chalkey family of Lake Charles and Dr. H. Rouse Caffey, a former LSU AgCenter chancellor. Participation in the program is based on a competitive application and interview process, and those accepted into the program pay a nominal tuition fee.

Participants in Class 11 include individuals engaged in farming, ranching, forestry, the nursery industry, wildlife and agribusiness. Members of the class are:

Joyce Allen and Bob Allen of Batchelor, Erle West Barham of Rayville, Michael Blazier of Homer, Don Branton of Ferriday, Epney Brasher of Amite, Errol Domingues of Erath, Todd Ellefson of Mandeville, Hunter Fife of Mangham, Stuart Gardner of Sunset, Benny Guerrero of Oak Grove and Hank Jones of Winnsboro.

Others include Wilson Judice of Centerville, Amelia Levin of Amite, Chad LeBlanc of Arnaudville, Jeannine Meeds of Big Branch, Donna Morgan of Pineville, Jenni Peterman of Alexandria, Christian Richard of Kaplan, Scott Shepard of Oak Ridge, Howard Smith of Wisner, Brian Spillman of St. Francisville, John Thevis of Simmesport, Dwayne Viator of Youngsville and Jennifer Young of Zachary.


Contact: Bobby Soileau at (225) 578-5670 or

Editor: Rick Bogren at (225) 578-5839 or

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