(03/24/22) BATON ROUGE, La. — As the director of the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station, Doyle Chambers was adamant that research and extension are vital to the future of agriculture in Louisiana.
Chambers championed increased funding and greater visibility of these efforts — and in the early 1970s, he played a key role in making the LSU AgCenter an independent campus of the LSU system dedicated to serving the agriculture industry.
To honor his legacy, the AgCenter has added Chambers’ name to its Central Research Station in Baton Rouge. At a ceremony held March 24 — which would have been Chambers’ 104th birthday — family members joined AgCenter personnel to share memories of Chambers and to unveil a sign featuring the station’s new name.
“If our dad was still with us today, I know that he would want to say thanks for the birthday wishes and the recognition, but he would also say that this recognition would not have been possible without the focus and dedication of the LSU AgCenter faculty, staff and students,” said Michael Chambers, Doyle Chambers’ son.
Located just a few minutes from the LSU campus, the Doyle Chambers Central Research Station consists of nearly 3,000 acres of fields, pastures, laboratories and greenhouses. It is one of 15 Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station branches the AgCenter operates statewide.
“This is a very special place to me, to the LSU AgCenter and to the College of Agriculture because of its proximity to campus,” said Luke Laborde, interim LSU vice president for agriculture and dean of the College of Agriculture.
The station provides students a valuable chance to get hands-on farm experience and faculty a convenient location to conduct a wide range of crop and animal science studies, Laborde said.
Chambers, who was born in 1918 and grew up on a farm in Morehouse Parish, received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from LSU before earning a doctorate in animal science at Oklahoma State University. In 1964, he returned to Louisiana as the experiment station director, ultimately becoming vice chancellor of the AgCenter in 1979.
A World War II veteran, Chambers retired in 1985 and died in 2005.
Chambers’ life was guided by a desire to leave the world better than he had found it, his son recalled, and he believed agriculture was an important part of accomplishing that goal.
Michael Chambers said those principles remain relevant today.
“We are living in a world that desperately needs progress to increase affordable food production and ensure its safe delivery to the tables of people around the world,” he said.
The facility that now bears Chambers’ name is home to the type of groundbreaking research that can help solve global issues, said station director Glen Gentry. It already has been the scene of two major milestones in agriculture.
In 2000, the world’s first transgenic goat was born at the station. It was later cloned to create a herd of goats whose milk contained a substance that could be used in heart medication.
Four years later, the first instance of Asian soybean rust in North America was discovered at the station. AgCenter researchers worked with scientists from around the world to bring the devastating plant disease under control.
Mike Salassi, AgCenter associate vice president, recalled Chambers’ commitment to the AgCenter and his strong belief that research was critical to the success of Louisiana farmers.
Salassi quoted something Chambers was often heard saying: “If it were not for the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station, there would be no agriculture in Louisiana.”
Michael Chambers and Dorothy Chambers LeBlanc pull a string to remove a tarp and unveil a sign at a ceremony March 24, 2022, where the LSU AgCenter Central Research Station in Baton Rouge was officially renamed to honor their late father and former AgCenter administrator, Doyle Chambers. Photo by Olivia McClure/LSU AgCenter
Doyle Chambers in 1983. LSU AgCenter file photo
LSU AgCenter research associate Calvin Glaspie, third from right, gives a tour of a greenhouse following a naming ceremony at the AgCenter Doyle Chambers Central Research Station on March 24, 2022. Formerly known as the Central Research Station, the facility in Baton Rouge was renamed to honor Chambers, a former AgCenter administrator. Pictured, from left, are Chambers’ grandson Andrew Chambers; son Michael Chambers; interim LSU Vice President for Agriculture Luke Laborde; LSU AgCenter Associate Vice President Mike Salassi; station director Glen Gentry; Glaspie; and daughter Dorothy Chambers LeBlanc and her husband Warren LeBlanc. Photo by Olivia McClure/LSU AgCenter
Interim LSU Vice President for Agriculture Luke Laborde speaks during a naming ceremony at the LSU AgCenter Doyle Chambers Central Research Station on March 24, 2022. Formerly known as the Central Research Station, the facility in Baton Rouge was renamed to honor Chambers, a former AgCenter administrator. Photo by Olivia McClure/LSU AgCenter