LSU AgCenter honors 12 adults for service to Louisiana 4-H

Mark Tassin, Merrill, Thomas A., Coreil, Paul D.  |  6/24/2009 11:23:05 PM

News Release Distributed 06/24/09

The LSU AgCenter honored 12 adults Tuesday evening (June 24) for their service to the Louisiana 4-H youth development program.

Among those honored were four 4-H alumni, two school system administrators, two LSU AgCenter faculty members, two secretaries from AgCenter offices and two volunteer leaders who were honored for their outstanding service to 4-H.

The awards were presented during a banquet on the first day of 4-H University – a gathering of 4-H’ers from across Louisiana that brings them to Baton Rouge for three-days of competition, educational activities and entertainment.

“Our 4-H program makes a difference in the lives of young people across Louisiana,” said LSU AgCenter Vice Chancellor Paul Coreil. “But it wouldn’t be possible without the dedication of volunteers, the support of school superintendents and the members of our faculty and staff who go above and beyond the call of duty.

“We’re glad to be able to recognize a few of those outstanding individuals with these awards each year,” he continued.

The 2009 4-H Alumni awards, which recognize former 4-H Club members for continuing to be active with the youth development program, went to Beryl Ford of Vernon Parish, Dr. Cindy Gillespie of Vernon Parish, Christi Motschman Turner of Bossier Parish and Jamie Berthelot Manotas of Livingston Parish.

School Superintendent awards, which recognize parish school administrators for their exceptional support of the co-curricular 4-H youth development program, went to Stephanie Rodrigue from Cameron Parish and Dr. Catherine Segura from Iberia Parish.

Awards to LSU AgCenter secretaries for their service to the program went to Diane Schneider of the AgCenter’s southwest regional office and Barbara Marshall of its Winn Parish office.

LSU AgCenter specialists recognized for dedicated service to 4-H this year were Cynthia Stephens, an extension agent in Ouachita Parish, and Dr. Greg Lutz of the AgCenter’s Aquaculture Research Station.

Finally, two volunteer leaders were honored for their service to Louisiana 4-H. Sharon Nabours of Calcasieu Parish received the Salute to Excellence Lifetime Leader Award, and Charlene Smith of Calcasieu received the Salute to Excellence Volunteer Leader of the Year Award.

As the daughter of a county agent, Ford had the opportunity to participate in all aspects of 4-H. Then as she progressed through being an educator, mom and now grandmother, she continued to support the 4-H program in Vernon Parish. She has worked with Character Counts!, served on the 4-H livestock and overall 4-H Advisory committees, served as a judge for various contest and now supports the program as she serves on the Vernon Parish School Board. Ford said she is a true believer in that 4-H teaches the necessary life skills that all youth need to be successful.

Gillespie grew up in Pennsylvania where she participated in 4-H through community clubs. Through her years as an educator and a school principal and school superintendent, she continued to support 4-H by welcoming it into schools, supporting new programs and even funding for camps, equipment and an educational trailer. Although Gillespie has now retired, she promises to continue to support 4-H as a judge and on the 4-H Advisory Committee.

Turner was a 4-H member in Bossier Parish for nine years, and her participation included taking part in the 4-H Exchange Program with Colorado. She also was a member of the Collegiate 4-H Club at LSU and has been a volunteer leader in Bossier Parish for the past 10 years – working with the Junior Leadership Club, serving on the State 4-H Advisory Committee and working as a State 4-H Fashion Board leader for the past five years. She has attended 4-H U as a volunteer leader for the past nine years and has won the top leader award for Bossier Parish with her leader portfolio.

Manotas has been involved with the 4-H youth development program since she was in the fourth grade. During her years in the program she held a variety of officer positions and was active in local, parish and district contests. In high school she was a member and officer of the parish Junior Leadership club and participated annually in 4-H Short Course, now 4-H U. At LSU, Berthelot continued her 4-H career as a member of Collegiate 4-H. She also spent seven years as a 4-H agent with the LSU AgCenter in Vermilion Parish and now serves as a family and consumer science teacher at Denham Springs High School, where she also is the 4-H organizational leader.

Stephanie Rodrigue has the privilege of being recognized as a charter member Louisiana 4-H Hall of Fame, and those who nominated her for this award said her contributions to Louisiana 4-H lie both in the past and in the future. She was an active member and volunteer in Lafourche Parish and she continues that work today in Cameron Parish, where she also is the parish superintendent of schools and a strong supporter and liaison for the 4-H program.

Segura has been a 4-H Club member, school leader, principal and is currently a supervisor with the Iberia Parish School Board. As a leader and principal, her 4-H Clubs were outstanding in their participation in various contests and events. Now, in her current job, she has been a champion of agriculture awareness and has helped the parish Ag Days grow into an annual event that reaches all third graders in the parish. She believes in the 4-H motto of “learning by doing” and that all students who are introduced to 4-H can improve their communication and public speaking, social and decision-making skills, which allow them to positively contribute to a society and the communities in which they live.

Schneider joined the LSU AgCenter in 1993 as a secretary in Jefferson Davis Parish and transferred to the AgCenter’s southwest regional office in 1998. Her responsibilities include both research and extension work but a large percentage of her time is dedicated to the area of 4-H Youth Development. She has been and continues to be instrumental in 4-H lessons developed by the agents in the region. She also manages the equipment and exhibit inventory that is used regularly by 4-H faculty in the area, and her coworkers say she is always “willing to go the extra mile” to support the 4-H program.

Marshall’s nomination describes her as “professional, loyal, helpful and dedicated.” An employee of the LSU AgCenter for 13 years, she is considered a valuable resource throughout the community, parish and region and is said to truly understand the importance of providing researched-based material to the clientele of the AgCenter.

Stephens is credited with leadership in the formation of an ag awareness program known as Ag Alley in northeast Louisiana. Formed in 2002, it since has been replicated across the state and is one of the LSU AgCenter’s most visible program events. Stephens has been the chair of Ag Alley since its inception, and the event has reached more than 6,000 fourth-graders each year fort eh past several years.

Lutz, a professor with the LSU AgCenter’s Aquaculture Research Station, has statewide extension responsibilities for all commercial aquaculture, as well as recreational and ornamental residential pond management. Lutz has played a critical role in the success of the AgMagic program held each spring on the LSU campus in Baton Rouge. Officials say his positive attitude and desire to have youth learn about agriculture is second to none and that his commitment to youth is evident in his enthusiasm when working along with youth.

Nabours has been a 4-H volunteer leader in Calcasieu Parish for the past 14 years. She began her involvement with 4-H when her oldest daughter was in fourth grade and joined 4-H for the first time in Sulphur, La. As an organizational leader for her daughters’ 4-H clubs, the clubs witnessed their largest enrollment and most active membership to date. Nabours also has been active in the Louisiana 4-H Volunteer Leader Association and has participated by presenting workshops at and in the planning for the Southern Region 4-H Leader Forum at Rock Eagle, Ga. In addition, she currently serves on the Louisiana 4-H Foundation Board of Trustees, participates yearly in 4-H summer camp and LOST Camp, works with her parish Sports Fishing club and presents a portion of Clover College during 4-H University.

Smith has been a 4-H volunteer leader in Calcasieu for the past six years, and, like Nabours, her involvement began helping as her children got involved in the program. She began as a home-school mom of two 4-H’ers and quickly got involved with the organizational program. With her leadership the Home School 4-H Club membership in her area grew from about 30 members to more than 100 and spilt into three clubs (elementary, middle and senior). This past year she has expanded her volunteerism as she served as an instructor for the first LOST Camp, and she also participated in the Southern Regional 4-H Leader Forum.

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Contacts:  Paul Coreil or Mark Tassin
Writer:  Tom Merrill

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