New Faculty Profile: Kristin Stair helps students get broad view of agriculture

Tobie Blanchard  |  6/11/2018 4:06:04 PM

Tobie Blanchard

Kristin Stair is one of the few faculty members in the LSU College of Agriculture who gets a broad view of the college’s students in all majors.

Stair, an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Extension Education and Evaluation, is one of two rectors for the college’s Agriculture Residential College. First-year agriculture students can participate in ARC. The students live in the same residential hall and take some classes together, including AGRI 1001, which Stair teaches. The class introduces students to many issues in agriculture.

“Our ARC program encourages a deeper understanding of agriculture and the importance of research. Through the AGRI course and the ARC program, students visit academic departments and research stations, participate in community service, are exposed to numerous clubs and organizations, and attend a wide variety of college activities,” Stair said.

Stair has been instrumental in growing the agriculture and extension education program at LSU. She was hired in 2014 when the major moved from the College of Human Sciences and Education back to the College of Agriculture.

The department has seen an increase in students majoring in agriculture and extension education. Stair said it is vital to have qualified professionals who can educate youth and adults about agriculture.

“We are seeing new agriculture programs being added across the state, and so we are working harder than ever to recruit students. Our numbers have grown significantly during the past four years, and we are gaining the reputation for putting out excellent students who have received a well-rounded agricultural education.”

Stair recently took a group of students, including students from the residential college, to Nicaragua during spring break to learn about that country’s agriculture.

The excursion was marketed to freshmen as a way to introduce them to international experiences while allowing them to travel with Stair and Mike Kaller, the other rector of the residential college — both faculty members they knew and trusted.

“This was a safety net experience for most of them — it was a just a week and most of them knew each other, but that way they can see it’s not so big and scary to travel to another country.” Stair added that most of the students left Nicaragua planning international internships or research projects.

That was the point, Stair said, to get the students to see the value of international experiences early and perhaps encourage them to participate.

Stair also serves as the Louisiana program leader for the Go Teach Ag program — an initiative of the National Association of Agricultural Educators.

“As a former high school teacher, teaching others about the ag industry is really important to me,” Stair said. “Getting to help students see the connections and experience agriculture is such a great part of my job.”

Tobie Blanchard is the assistant director of LSU AgCenter Communications and the communication coordinator of the LSU College of Agriculture.

(This article appears in the spring 2018 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)

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Kristin Stair, assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Extension Education and Evaluation, wears her FFA jacket from when she was a member.

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Stair ziplines in Nicaragua, where she took a group of students to learn about agriculture in that country.

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