On-field competition doesn’t hamper off-field cooperation

Mark A. Schexnayder, Morgan, Johnny W.  |  1/5/2008 1:06:48 AM

News Release Distributed 1/4/08

On January 7, the two top college football teams in the nation will battle to see who will win, but for many people devastated by Hurricane Katrina, both are already winners.

On that morning, more than 50 Ohio State alumni, faculty, staff, administrators and students will tour Louisiana sites where OSU students have been helping the recovery effort over the past two years.

Since just after the storm, the LSU AgCenter and The Ohio State University have been coordinating their efforts to help in the recovery of the devastated region.

Dr. Paul Coreil, LSU AgCenter vice chancellor and director of extension, said the event comprises more than a football game; it is a display of two championship university systems coming together to help a community needing a ray of hope even two years after Katrina.

"LSU and Ohio State are not only national champion contenders on the football field, they are also champion citizens helping New Orleans recovery from the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina,” Coreil said. “Over the past two years, numerous Ohio State University students and faculty have joined the LSU AgCenter's Cooperative Extension Service faculty and staff as volunteers, putting in countless hours helping with the recovery in South Louisiana.”

Ohio State University students have made seven trips to the area to help with the recovery in the region. Each trip involved about 30 students coming to work for about a week.

"We're looking forward to a great engagement with LSU on the football field," said Dr. Bobby Moser, Ohio State University vice president for agricultural administration and university outreach and dean of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

"Even greater is our collaboration with the LSU AgCenter off the field,” he said. “This partnership highlights just one strength of the land-grant system.

“When our students provided service to agricultural businesses devastated by Hurricane Katrina, the LSU AgCenter provided them with an equally important service -- real-life training and experience,” Moser said.

He said in the face of adversity, the professionals at the LSU AgCenter worked tirelessly to coordinate volunteers and assist the people they serve in Louisiana.

On these trips, LSU AgCenter agents coordinated the work that allowed the OSU students to get the most work done during their time in the area.

Amanda Hardesty, a member of the first group of students, enjoyed the feeling of helping those in need so much that she decided to stay.

“I was in my last semester of college when we came down to help out,” she said. “And after seeing the amount of devastation the storm caused, I knew I had to do more.”

“This display of character by student and faculty volunteers was being exhibited way before anyone knew LSU and OSU would be in the championship game,” Coreil said. “And we know it will continue way after the game is over."

Mark Schexnayder, who heads the LSU AgCenter’s Hurricane Katrina task force, said the students were ready to work when they arrived.

“Before they arrived, I had been coordinating with our agents in several parishes so we could make their time most valuable,” he said.

On these trips to the hurricane-devastated areas, the students were divided into work crews, and each crew went to where the work was most needed.

Schexnayder said some of the crews were sent to dairy farms in Washington Parish to help repair fences, while others worked in the seafood industry, at area greenhouses and with citrus growers.

“Many of these students were agriculture majors, but overall, they were just students who wanted to help,” Schexnayder said.

Additional information on how to help in the recovery effort is available from Schexnayder at (504) 838-1170 or mschexnayder@agcenter.lsu.edu or from Amanda Hardesty at Amanda.j.hardesty@gmail.com.

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Contacts: Mark Schexnayder at (504) 838-1170 or mschexnayder@agcenter.lsu.edu

Amanda Hardesty at amanda.j.hardesty@gmail.com

Writers: Johnny Morgan at (225) 578-8484 or jmorgan@agcenter.lsu.edu

Suzanne Steel at (614) 292-9637 or steel.7@osu.edu

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