LSU AgCenter Honors Top Faculty Members During Annual Conference

Kenneth Gautreaux, Claesgens, Mark A.

News Release Distributed 12/13/04

The LSU AgCenter recognized four individuals and a team of faculty members with its top research and extension awards during its 2004 annual conference Monday (Dec. 13).

In addition, another individual and a team of faculty members were acknowledged with nominations for U.S. Department of Agriculture Honor Awards, and two staff members received awards for their outstanding service during the presentations at the LSU Union Theater in Baton Rouge.

The individual recipients of the LSU AgCenter’s top awards were Dr. Theresia Lavergne, who received the LSU AgCenter’s Excellence in Extension Award; Dr. Michael Chamberlain, the Rogers Excellence in Research Award; Tina Goebel, the Floyd S. Edmiston Award; Dr. Gene Reagan, the Doyle Chambers Research Award. The Tipton Team Research Award went to a group known as the Corn Hybrid Test Team.

Lavergne serves as the state poultry specialist for the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service. She was instrumental in the development of a broiler litter pasteurization project that has allowed poultry producers to reuse poultry litter – thus reducing the amount of litter being disposed.

"We’ve worked with the growers and the industry to provide them with alternative means of managing their litter – thus reducing the chance of potential contamination of our waterways," says Lavergne.

She also is active with the LSU AgCenter’s 4-H youth development program and is the poultry coordinator for the state livestock show.

Chamberlain was recognized for his work in the area of wildlife biology. He has studied more than 20 species of animals including threatened species such as the Louisiana black bear.

He helped developed a relocation plan for the Louisiana black bear, which enjoyed success where other plans have failed. "We’re moving adult denning females from their winter dens with their newborn cubs," Chamberlain explains. "Previous attempts to relocate bears had failed, because the bears simply turned around and walked back home."

Chamberlain is examining why northern bobwhite quail numbers are diminishing across the Deep South and the effects imported fire ants have on native ecosystems.

Goebel is an LSU AgCenter 4-H agent in Jefferson Davis Parish. This past year she chaired the restructuring committee for the annual 4-H Short Course held at LSU, which now is known as 4-H University.

"I think we made good progress with 4-H U. But we’re still open to new ideas and new contests, because let’s face it – kids aren’t the same as 40 years ago," Goebel says of her work.

In addition to those accomplishments, Goebel oversees 25 clubs at 15 schools in her parish. And, as a former 4-H’er herself, she values the educational opportunities this youth organization offers.

Reagan is an entomologist who specializes in sugarcane production. Much of Reagan’s recent work has focused on the Mexican rice borer – a pest that already is in Texas and is expected to someday make its way into Louisiana.

"We’re real excited about doing work on plant resistance, cultural practices and trying to combine different control tactics that will prepare us to mange this pest once it enters the rice and sugarcane country of Louisiana," Reagan says.

Reagan plays a vital role on the LSU AgCenter’s sugarcane variety development team that revolutionized the cane industry with the release of the enormously successful variety LCP 85-384.

The team that was honored with the Tipton award is responsible for testing corn hybrids for their yield and agronomic performance on an annual basis. In 2004, 92 different hybrids were tested at three locations in various parts of the state.

"When producers receive unbiased and accurate corn yield data, it helps them choose the best hybrid based on scientific data instead of relying solely on advertising," team coordinator Dr. Steve Moore says.

The team also made use of the Internet to get tests results to producers faster – allowing them to plan for next season as early as possible.

Members of the corn hybrid test team who received the honor were Moore, a professor at the LSU AgCenter’s Dean Lee Research Station at Alexandria; Dr. Jim Rabb, a professor at the AgCenter’s Red River Research Station at Bossier City; Dr. Rick Mascagni, a professor at the AgCenter’s Northeast Research Station at St. Joseph; and research associates Warner Hall of the AgCenter’s Ben Hur Research Station in Baton Rouge, Robert Bell of the Northeast Station, Mildred Deloach of the Dean Lee Station and Jose Liscano of the Red River Station.

As for the individual and team nominated for USDA Honor Awards, those nominations went to Dr. Sally Soileau of East Baton Rouge Parish and a team working on a tri-state initiative designed to help young people be more prepared to join the workforce.

Soileau, a family and consumer sciences agent, was chosen for enhancing the protection and safety of the nation’s agriculture and food supply. Soileau led an oyster food safety program to educate at-risk consumers and healthcare providers about the toxic Vibrio vulnificus bacterium.

The team nomination went to a group of faculty members and administrators dubbed the 4-H Tri-State Workforce Preparation Team. They were nominated for an award to recognize them for supporting increased economic opportunities and improved quality of life in rural areas.

The 14-member group developed and engaged rural youth and adults in educational programming that provided job skills and experiential learning opportunities for future employment.

Led by 4-H regional coordinator Debbie Bairnsfather, who is assigned to Northeast Louisiana, the group included 4-H state department head Terril Faul of Baton Rouge, Northeast regional director Dr. Robert Hutchinson, area agent Deborah Cross from the South Central Louisiana area, 4-H professor Juanita Johnson of Baton Rouge, 4-H agent Markaye Russell of Ouachita Parish, 4-H agent Joanna Strong of Richland Parish, 4-H agent Krishanda Mayers of East Carroll Parish, 4-H agent Karol Osborne of Madison Parish, 4-H agent Sandra Russell of Caldwell Parish, FCS agent Cynthia Stephens of Ouachita Parish, 4-H agent Cathy Agan of Ouachita Parish, county agent Jim McCann of Caldwell Parish and LSU/Southern University youth development specialist Wanda Burke of Baton Rouge.

The other LSU AgCenter awards went to an outstanding staff member and outstanding research associate.

Sue Haigus, a research associate in the LSU AgCenter's Department of Veterinary Science, was recognized with the Outstanding Service Award for Associates, and Danielle Bayham, a university administrative specialist in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, was honored with the Ganelle Bullock Outstanding Staff Service Award.


Writers:     Craig Gautreaux at (225) 578-5673 or
                   Mark Claesgens at (225) 578-2939 or

4/19/2005 10:29:16 PM
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