Outreach forum focuses on urban programs

Johnny Morgan  |  9/14/2016 5:24:14 PM

(09/09/16) NEW ORLEANS – The LSU AgCenter and Southern University Ag Center held roundtable-style discussions to assess the needs of Orleans Parish and Jefferson Parish residents on Sept. 7.

The forum, which was held at the Pavilion of Two Sisters in the New Orleans Botanical Garden, was designed to begin the process for developing a sustainable urban program, said LSU AgCenter regional director Regina Bracy.

“We want to determine community needs and then form action committees to address the issues,” Bracy said. “We will have small roundtable discussions where attendees will be talked with, not talked to.”

The plan for the outreach effort is to reach a much larger population who have different needs, Bracy said.

“Programming in the urban area is a little different than what we have traditionally done in the rural areas,” she said.

The topics addressed at the forum included: health, nutrition and food access; youth development; healthy home; family matters; quality of life and enrichment, and community issues and safety.

Bracy said the process began with the agents in Orleans Parish and Jefferson Parish getting together to brainstorm.

“We wanted to know what we can provide to people, but we also wanted to know where we are limited and we need help,” Bracy said.

The overall goal of the forum was to identify needs in the community, build collaborations and set an action plan in motion.

Chevon Smith, a participant at the forum, said she feels this approach is a good idea, but she doesn’t think the residents are getting the information they need.

“We need to make sure that the people who need the information the most are being provided it,” she said.

LSU AgCenter nutrition educator Dominique Jackson from Orleans Parish said that she is passionate about this process.

“I feel there are people here who are really passionate about the community, but I feel we should have the people we want to help here,” she said.

Jackson said it’s easy to write down what are believed to be the needs of the community, but it’s impossible to know for sure.

The next step is for action groups to determine their focus and begin developing plans.

Bracy said the forum was not expected to develop ideas that go nowhere. She has plans to make the goals attainable for residents with the most needs.

“We will be forming working groups after the forum today,” Bracy said. “They are going to meet, they’re going to strategize, they’re going to make the plans, and they will actually move the plans forward.”

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LSU AgCenter nutrition instructor Denise Holston discusses ways to improve nutrition for residents in the New Orleans area during an urban outreach forum sponsored by the LSU AgCenter and Southern University Ag Center at New Orleans City Park on Sept. 7. (Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter)

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LSU AgCenter housing specialist Claudette Reichel explains ways to keep homes healthy during an urban outreach forum sponsored by the LSU AgCenter and Southern University Ag Center at New Orleans City Park on Sept. 7. (Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter)

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LSU AgCenter regional director Regina Bracy gives instructions for follow up planning to the action groups following roundtable-style discussions to improve urban programming during an urban outreach forum sponsored by the LSU AgCenter and Southern University Ag Center at New Orleans City Park on Sept. 7. (Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter)

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