Thomas A. Merrill, Mccrory, Joan M.
BATON ROUGE – The LSU AgCenter recognized outstanding volunteer leaders and 4-H and FFA members Saturday (Feb. 14) for their involvement in and contributions to youth livestock programs.
The awards were presented during a ceremony that helped usher in the conclusion of the 69th annual LSU AgCenter Livestock Show at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales. The annual events ran from Feb. 7-14.
Sponsored by the Louisiana 4-H Foundation and Louisiana FFA, the awards were based on evaluation of each person's record book or a detailed application concerning his or her involvement with youth livestock projects.
The 4-H program is the youth development arm of the nationwide land-grant university system. It is operated in Louisiana by the LSU AgCenter and includes projects for youth on topics ranging from raising livestock to computer science and family life to environmental science.
Among the awards presented during the Saturday evening ceremony were the Louisiana Attorney General’s Awards, which recognize two volunteer 4-H leaders who have assisted livestock project members.
Those awards went to Kristie Blanchard of Iberia Parish and Kathy Colson of Richland Parish.
Mrs. Blanchard has served as a 4-H livestock leader for four years, and, in that capacity, she has assisted more than 200 livestock project members by conducting workshops, clinics and skill-a-thons. She also has trained 10 members in preparation for premier exhibitor contests and has been instrumental in raising $20,000 for the Iberia 4-H program through golf tournaments, po-boy and candy sales.
Mrs. Colson is a 19-year volunteer leader in the livestock program. She has provided numerous exhibitors the opportunity to show quality dairy animals and has assisted them in grooming, milking and artificial breeding, as well as calving. She also helps train members for the premier exhibitor and best-fitted animal contests and has recruited numerous young exhibitors into the 4-H dairy project.
The Superintendent of Education Awards were presented to students 13 years of age or younger who have excelled in the livestock program. Those awards this year went to Brooke Prather of St. Landry Parish and Samantha Lirette of Lafourche Parish.
Prather is a third-year 4-H member from St. Landry Parish and the daughter of Burton and Cindy Prather. Her livestock projects include registered Brahman and F-1 heifers, rabbits and a dairy calf, and she also participates in the beef grazing project. In addition, Prather has done extensive community service work – such as providing animals and running an exhibit at a school Agricultural Extravaganza and helping collect more than 20 tons of food for a community food drive.
Lirette is the daughter of Monica and Arthur Lirette and a member of Central Lafourche High FFA. Her agricultural experience program includes 10 head of commercial beef cattle, 10 dairy cows, eight show goats, 150 broilers and 40 laying hens. She obviously is no stranger to the livestock ring – exhibiting animals at the parish, district and state levels, as well as out-of-state shows. And, in addition to her livestock projects, she is involved in vegetable production projects and grows several acres of tomatoes, greens, okra, peas, cucumbers and eggplant.
The Governor’s Award recognizes two 4-H members and one FFA member who are 14 or older and have excelled in the livestock program. The 2004 awards presented Saturday went to Jessica Lester of St. Tammany Parish, Eric Kimbrough of Ascension and Lindsey Tassin of West Baton Rouge.
Lester is a member of Covington High FFA and the daughter of Cindy and Ricky Lester. As a nine-year exhibitor of registered polled hereford cattle, she personally owns 41 animals in the family herd. She also is constantly working on the expansion of her herd by becoming certified in artificial insemination and learning more about proper selection of breeding stock. In addition, she currently is president of the Junior Polled Hereford Association and is a board member of the Louisiana Junior Cattlemen’s Association.
Kimbrough is a 16-year-old 4-H member and the son of Katherine Beier. Kimbrough has raised 29 exhibition birds, 170 broilers, 11 ducks, 74 adult rabbits, 514 kits and 69 pedigreed rabbits. He was named as the premier poultry exhibitor at last year’s LSU AgCenter Livestock Show and states that his most satisfying experience is sharing his knowledge with younger 4-H’ers. Kimbrough has won numerous state awards in the egg and poultry talk contests and has recently been selected as one of the eight youth to serve on the 2004 National 4-H Congress Design Team.
Tassin is a 14-year-old 4-H member, and her parents are Janet and Mark Tassin. She has raised 15 market lambs and nine breeding ewes, as well as conducting numerous talks, skill-a-thons, demonstrations and clinics related to the lamb project – including teaching a farm safety class to 450 schoolchildren. Tassin was state winner at this year’s 4-H Short Course with a demonstration about lambs and insecticides titled "What’s Biting Ewe?" She also is president of her local 4-H Club, is active in the Junior Leader Club and is a volunteer for the 4-H Adopt-a-Grandparent program and in the children’s ward of Our Lady of the Lake Hospital.