Karol Osborne | 4/13/2018 3:58:35 PM
(04/13/2018) ALEXANDRIA, La. — Nicholas LeBlanc, a Vermilion Parish 4-H member and veteran competitor at the 4-H Commodity Ambassador Program contest, said he enjoys sharing information about the importance of safely preparing foods like seafood and poultry.
“The contest has helped me become a better public speaker, build confidence and learn a lot about food safety that I wouldn’t otherwise know,” LeBlanc said.
Held April 11 at the State Evacuation Shelter near Alexandria, the 4-H Commodity Ambassador Program drew over 75 youth in fourth through 12th grade from across the state.
The contest is designed for the education and enhancement of Louisiana 4-H members in various agricultural commodities that are vital to Louisiana’s economy, said LSU AgCenter 4-H livestock specialist Crystal Ahrens.
“The program prepares 4-H members to serve as advocates in supporting agricultural education throughout Louisiana,” Ahrens said.
Winn Parish 4-H member Isabella Schilling said she enjoyed the competition. “I practiced every night so I could memorize my speech and not have to look at my notes,” she said.
Bailey Wray, a Sabine Parish senior and first-timer to the contest, competed in the turkey division and said she learned a lot about turkeys and cooking in general, like how to use a meat thermometer.
Wray plans to study communications in college and said, “It was interesting to see the different takes people have on the same topic, and how they take it in different directions.”
Contestants prepare posters, write essays, and develop oral presentations while exploring production, food preparation and nutrition, food safety, processing, and marketing in one of five agricultural commodities, Ahrens said.
Vermilion sixth-grader Lane Demette agreed. “It gives me experience and helps me overcome shyness, and helps me prepare for other contests,” he said.
Competitors are divided into three age-appropriate divisions based on grades in school. Youth in grades 4 to 6 compete in Division I, students in grades 7 to 9 are in Division II, and Division III competitors are in grades 10 to 12.
The 2018 state first place winners are:
Division I – Gabriella Cieutat, Tangipahoa Parish; Division II – Lily Fontenot, Allen Parish; Division III – Cassidy Martin, Avoyelles Parish
Division I – Graysen Wallace, Tangipahoa Parish; Division II – Kayla Fox, Sabine Parish; Division III – Bailey Wray, Sabine Parish
Division I – Matthew Plaisance, LaFourche Parish; Division II – Isabella Couvillion, Lafayette Parish; Division III – Victoria Watson, Iberia Parish
Division I – Matthew Plaisance, LaFourche Parish; Division II – Ava Hebert, Vermilion Parish; Division III – Nicholas LeBlanc, Vermilion Parish
Division I – Shelby Slaven, Tangipahoa Parish; Division II – Gabriel Fontenot, Evangeline Parish; Division III – Kaitlin Mong, Sabine Parish
Division III winners in the chicken, egg and turkey categories win a trip to Louisville, Kentucky, to represent Louisiana 4-H at the National 4-H Poultry and Egg Conference held in November.
The first place winners in Division III of the seafood and sugar contests win a 4-H educational trip to San Antonio, Texas, set for July.
First place winners in Divisions I and II receive cash awards.
Sponsors of the 4-H Commodity Ambassador Programs are the Louisiana Poultry Federation, the Louisiana Seafood and Marketing Board, the American Society of Sugarcane Technologists and the Louisiana 4-H Foundation.
Division III winners in the 4-H Commodity Ambassador contests were Kailin Mong, Sabine Parish; Cassidy Martin, Avoyelles Parish; Nicholas LeBlanc, Vermilion Parish; Bailey Wray, Sabine Parish, and Victoria Watson, Iberia Parish. Photo by Karol Osborne/LSU AgCenter
Graysen Wallace, 4-H’er from Tangipahoa Parish, participates in the 4-H Commodity Ambassador contest. Wallace placed first in the Division I (grades 4 to 6) Turkey Ambassador contest. Photo by Karol Osborne/LSU AgCenter