Inaugural LSU AgExcellence Awards Ceremony honors difference makers

(05/01/2024) BATON ROUGE, La. – The LSU AgCenter and College of Agriculture hosted the inaugural AgExcellence Awards Ceremony, led by Vice President and Dean Matt Lee and emceed by Avery Davidson from the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation. The event recognized leaders whose contributions have significantly advanced the AgCenter's mission in public policy, industry, community partnerships and academia.

The ceremony kicked off with the Vice President’s Awards, which recognized individuals and organizations that have played a pivotal role in advancing agricultural and environmental sciences in Louisiana.

The Public Policy Leader Award honored former State Senator Bret Allain for his advocacy in agricultural legislation, and Clay Schexnayder, former Speaker of the Louisiana House, for his leadership in agricultural development and education.

A. Wilbert’s Sons was recognized with the Industry Leader Award for their commitment to education and innovation in agriculture. The company has enhanced agricultural education through partnerships with the LSU AgCenter, establishing endowed professorships, sponsoring internships and funding the new Precision Agriculture Graduate Scholars Program.

The Patrick F. Taylor Foundation received the Community Partner Award for its role in enhancing community prosperity and well-being. Their collaboration with the AgCenter has advanced its mission in teaching, research and extension services, particularly through substantial funding for the model farm project.

Patty and Carl Newton's philanthropic endeavors were celebrated through the presentation of the Champions Award, recognizing their significant contributions to the College of Agriculture. Their philanthropy encompasses the establishment of an endowed scholarship fund and a sugarcane variety development professorship at LSU, dedicated to advancing agricultural education and research.

The LSU College of Agriculture Alumni Association presented Klein Kirby with the Outstanding Alumni Award for his continued support and leadership within the agricultural sector. The Early Career Outstanding Alumni Award was given to Noah Harper, recognizing his innovative contributions to agriculture in Louisiana. Brenda Sommers was honored with the Friend of the College of Agriculture Award for her long-standing volunteer work and support of the college.

The ceremony also highlighted academic excellence, awarding Phil Stouffer the Legacy Educator Award; Casey Stannard the Emerging Faculty Leader Award; Nila Pradhananga and Lauren Lansdell the Outstanding Graduate Student Awards; Mattie Thrasher the Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award; and Zachary Bonser the Outstanding Student Leader Award.

The event honored LSU faculty who secured significant grants, boosting research in environmental conservation, agricultural sustainability and public health. Terry Tiersch received the Funding Catalyst Award for securing more than $15 million in extramural funding and advancing aquatic research over his career.

Notable grant recipients included Rodrigo Diaz for his work on Roseau cane dieback; Jeff Kuehny for projects on nutrient reduction in urban stormwater and stormwater litter and plastics management for Capitol Lake; Jim Wang for climate-smart sugarcane and rice production; Brenda Tubana for her efforts with Patrick F. Taylor Model Farms; Carol Friedland for natural hazard risk assessment through LaHouse; and Denise Holston for her work on healthy access behaviors and communities.

The ceremony also acknowledged patent recipients for their contributions to agricultural and environmental management, including Steven Linscombe, Adam Famoso and Xueyan Sha for the 'CLJ01' rice cultivar; Witoon Prinyawiwatkul, Jimmy Xu and Yixiao Shen for water-soluble, high-molecular-weight chitosan powders; Glen Gentry, John Pojman and Baylen Thompson for feral hog toxicants; and Steve Harrison for the LA10044 oat variety and LA 16020 wheat variety.

Vice President Lee extended deep gratitude to the sponsors—Consolidated Grain and Barge Company, Elizabeth and David Means, the American Sugar Cane League and Erica and Ken West—for their support of the Ag Excellence Awards.

He also thanked the participants, whose contributions ensured the ceremony's success. This inaugural event not only spotlighted the exceptional achievements of its honorees but also established a benchmark for future contributions to agriculture and environmental stewardship.

The AgExcellence Awards have established a new tradition at LSU, celebrating those who inspire and lead the agricultural community, fostering growth and innovation for a sustainable future.

Matt Lee.

Vice President and Dean Matt Lee welcomes guests to the inaugural AgExcellence Awards held on April 26, 2024. Photo by Olivia McClure/LSU AgCenter

Matt Lee and Zach Bonser.

Zach Bonser of Tyrone, Georgia, received the Outstanding Student Leader Award for his impactful leadership as President of Les Voyageurs, the ambassador organization of the LSU College of Agriculture. Photo by Olivia McClure/LSU AgCenter

Klein Kirby Group.

Klein Kirby, recipient of the Outstanding Alumni Award, was honored for his enduring support and leadership within the agricultural sector, notably through his role as Chairman and CEO of A. Wilbert’s Sons. His instrumental contributions include fostering innovative agricultural practices and education through initiatives such as establishing endowed professorships and sponsoring internships at LSU. Photo by Olivia McClure/LSU AgCenter

5/1/2024 3:23:08 PM
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