Patrick Tuck, center, presents Phil Elzer, left, and Julie Elzer with the 2022 Legacy Donor Award Winner plaque in June. Provided photo.
The Louisiana 4-H Foundation recently established a scholarship for graduating high school seniors in honor of Robert and Debbie Joyner, who have been key supporters of 4-H livestock programs. The Robert and Debbie Joyner Scholarship Fund was created with a donation from Phil Elzer, director of the LSU AgCenter School of Animal Sciences, and his wife Julie.
Phil Elzer has a joint appointment in the Department of Pathobiological Sciences in the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine and the Department of Veterinary Science in the LSU AgCenter. After he joined the College of Agriculture faculty, the Elzers began recognizing the value of the 4-H program in youth character development, healthy living and STEM.
Robert Joyner, a former executive vice president of the Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association, has supported the LSU AgCenter Livestock Show and many other 4-H programs, while Debbie Joyner has been an active 4-H volunteer. Their children and grandchildren have participated in 4-H.
The Elzers wanted to honor the Joyners’ commitment to 4-H and help students pursue post-secondary education opportunities in Louisiana.
“Julie and I wanted to recognize the hard work, efforts and dedication of both Robert and Debbie Joyner to the livestock industry in the state and nation,” Phil Elzer said. “We thought the best way to do this was to set up a 4-H scholarship to assist students in financial need and hopefully set them on a path to helping improve the future of the industry.”
“We know that the best way to keep our most talented students in Louisiana is to offer them competitive scholarship packages. Cost should not be a barrier preventing our state’s best and brightest students from pursuing a career made possible through higher education,” said Patrick Tuck, executive director of the Louisiana 4-H Foundation. “This Elzer gift in honor of Robert and Debbie Joyner will allow deserving students, regardless of their financial circumstances, to earn more than just a degree. Because of these families and future donors to this fund, these students will participate in transformative experiential learning opportunities that lead them into their professional lives.”
“What a great opportunity that Phil and Julie are providing the youth of Louisiana 4-H and recognizing Robert and Debbie Joyner at the same time,” Toby Lepley said, AgCenter associate vice president. “This new scholarship creates a legacy for the many years both Robert and Debbie have supported the youth involved in our livestock shows and beef projects. The 4-H program is truly grateful for both the Elzers and Joyners for their support and commitment.”
Joyner Scholarship award winners must be graduating high school seniors who are members of 4-H. The Joyners asked that preference be given to students planning to enroll as animal science majors at any accredited four-year institution in Louisiana. The Louisiana 4-H Foundation maintains a donation link on its giving website and encourages donors at contribute, especially those with an interest in encouraging youth to pursue careers in animal sciences and cattle production.
Patrick Tuck contributed to this article.