For 25 years, Louisiana Agriculture magazine has been in the capable hands of Linda Foster Benedict.
As editor of the 65-year-old quarterly publication, Benedict has overseen 97 issues of the magazine, and she can’t pick a favorite.
“Every issue that comes out is my favorite,” she said. “I honestly think they get better every issue.”
This spring, after finishing the winter issue of Louisiana Agriculture, Benedict retired after a nearly 50-year career in cooperative extension education and communications.
Benedict grew up in Waterloo, Iowa, and attended Iowa State University. She majored in home economics journalism and edited a magazine for the college of home economics.
After graduation, Benedict became a reporter for her hometown newspaper, The Daily Courier. She earned a master’s degree in home economics education at the University of Northern Iowa and, as part of her thesis, created a game that taught children about nutrition.
Benedict then became an extension home economist for Iowa State University in her home county where, among her duties, she recorded one-minute spots featuring extension information on the local television station. This led to a full-time position as a communications specialist and assistant professor at Iowa State.
“That’s when I got into extension communications, which I just loved,” Benedict said. “It’s helping people learn real stuff.”
After six years at Iowa State, her husband was hired by the University of Missouri-Columbia to work in human resources. She continued her extension communications career at nearby Lincoln University, a historically Black 1890 land-grant institution, serving as the director of communications for extension and agriculture for four years. Then she moved to the University of Missouri, where she became an extension communications specialist and instructor of agricultural journalism.
At Missouri, Benedict earned a doctorate in journalism and was a visiting instructor in the University of Missouri School of Journalism. She also inaugurated the school’s health and nutrition journalism program.
After moving to Baton Rouge in 1992, Benedict worked for Southern University before she was hired by the AgCenter Communications Department as editor for Louisiana Agriculture. Then she was promoted to assistant director in charge of news, video and media relations, eventually becoming associate director for the department.
Covering agriculture in Louisiana was exciting, she said. She enjoyed learning about crawfish, sugarcane and other crops she had not seen before.
“It’s so much more interesting in Louisiana,” she said. “I’ve worked in Iowa, where the whole state is a big corn field. Louisiana is just so much more fun. It’s so diverse.”
Leading Louisiana Agriculture magazine, Benedict stressed the importance of high-quality photos and color pages complementing well-written articles that explain the research of AgCenter scientists.
Writing about agriculture and leading the magazine never lost its appeal, Benedict said, because agriculture encompasses so much, from nutrition and health to crops and natural resources such as trees and wildlife.
“I have loved helping people just understand agriculture,” she said. “Everything is agriculture.”
Kyle Peveto is the editor of Louisiana Agriculture magazine.
(This article appears in the spring 2022 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)
Linda Benedict retired this spring after editing Louisiana Agriculture magazine for 97 issues. Photo by Kyle Peveto