This year marked the start of the Louisiana 4-H Livestock Ambassador Program, which was open to active members in ninth through 12th grade who previously exhibited livestock in 4-H. The program sought to empower youth with the knowledge of the livestock industry in order to serve as strong advocates for agriculture, mentors for younger 4-H members with livestock projects, and consumer educators on the importance of agriculture across Louisiana and the United States.
Students from across Louisiana were selected through a process that included a written application, a video submission describing why they wanted to become an ambassador and an interview. A panel of judges, which included state specialists and industry volunteers, selected 10 students to be Louisiana 4-H Livestock Ambassadors. The newly appointed ambassadors attended a three-day intensive collegiate level training on the Louisiana State University campus in July where they spent their time engaged in lectures from professors in the School of Animal Sciences as well as livestock industry leaders. The topics ranged from live animal and carcass evaluation to advocating. Industry partners contributing to the event included Louisiana Farm Bureau, Louisiana Beef Industry Council, Louisiana Egg Commission, the Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture and Development at Texas A&M University, LSU College of Agriculture, retired faculty of the LSU AgCenter, and current faculty and staff of the LSU School of Animal Science and the AgCenter.
Through hands-on experience, the students evaluated live hogs and learned about the harvesting process including selecting and cooking their own pork chop two days later. In addition to livestock industry knowledge, a large emphasis was placed on skills such as communication, professional etiquette and advocacy. The goal of the training event was to prepare the ambassadors to advocate for their livestock projects to fellow 4-H members and general consumers. Louisiana 4-H Livestock Ambassador, beef cattle exhibitor and senior 4-H member Alyssa Keowen, from West Baton Rouge Parish, said, “I learned new ways to better support the agriculture industry, such as what the advertising on food labels mean and how to defend the livestock industry in conversation, both on social media and in person.”
The new 4-H Livestock Ambassadors will spend the rest of their one-year term engaging in various livestock project events. Tyler Braud, 4-H livestock specialist and School of Animal Sciences instructor, and Ashley K. Edwards, AgCenter beef specialist, served as advisers along with Hannah Devall, Louisiana 4-H animal science and agriculture literacy/awareness specialist. The advisers hold onto the goal of the ambassador program, which is to prepare youth for an advanced leadership role in their livestock project area and prepare them to showcase their projects while educating others.
Moving forward, the Louisiana 4-H Livestock Ambassadors will have opportunities to engage with fellow 4-H members as well as consumers at statewide events and livestock shows. They also will be assisting with clinics and workshops in their parishes, districts and regions. Ambassador Shaohannah Martin, from Lafayette Parish, said, “I love showing livestock and sharing my knowledge with others. Being a Louisiana 4-H Livestock Ambassador has given me an outlet with more opportunities to share my knowledge outside of family and friends.” Louisiana 4-H has big dreams for this program and hopes to be able to showcase various agriculture systems by giving the participants a chance to travel across the state, the country and even internationally.
Devall is the 4-H animal science and agriculture awareness and literacy
article appeared in the fall 2022 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.
The 2022 Louisiana 4-H Livestock Ambassadors and their advisers include, front row from left, Bryley Bourque, Calcasieu Parish; Camille Sonnier, Jefferson Davis Parish; Madeline Mitchelle, Natchitoches Parish; and Breck Vincent, West Carroll Parish; second row from left, Hannah Devall, Louisiana 4-H animal science and agriculture awareness/literacy specialist; Abby Dunn, Bossier Parish; Shaohannah Martin, Lafayette Parish; and Payton Prichard, Bossier Parish; and back row from left, Ashley Edwards, Beef Extension Specialist; Garrett Lirette, Iberville Parish; Alyssa Keowen, West Baton Rouge Parish; Isaac Duhon, Vermilion Parish; and Tyler Braud, instructor, Department of Animal Science and 4-H livestock specialist. Photo by Johnny Morgan
Hannah Devall, at right, Louisiana 4-H animal science and agriculture awareness/literacy specialist, showcased the new Louisiana 4-H grilling curriculum that explained food safety, meat selection and grilling techniques to the Louisiana 4-H Livestock Ambassadors during a three-day training session at LSU in July. Photo by Toby Lepley
A visit to Louisiana State University’s beautiful campus is never complete without a stop at Mike the Tiger’s habitat. Louisiana 4-H Livestock Ambassadors got a behind-the-scenes perspective on ethical animal husbandry during the three-day training program in July. Photo by Hannah Devall
The Louisiana 4-H Livestock Ambassadors’ first agenda item during a three-day training session at LSU in July was a lesson in live animal evaluation led by Tyler Braud, Louisiana 4-H livestock specialist and instructor in LSU's School of Animal Sciences. Photo by Hannah Devall