LSU AgCenter Honors Top Employees For 2005

Linda Benedict  |  12/22/2005 4:03:24 AM

News Release Distributed 12/21/05

Six employees received the LSU AgCenter’s top awards for 2005. In addition, a group of 15 who conducted the "Building Financially Literate Youth" program across the state received the annual teamwork award, LSU AgCenter Chancellor William B. "Bill" Richardson announced late in December (Dec. 19).

The top research awards went to Dr. Donald L. Thompson Jr., professor in the Department of Animal Sciences, and Dr. Eric Webster, associate professor in the Department of Agronomy and Environmental Management.

The 2005 extension awards to individuals went to Dr. Ben Legendre, sugarcane specialist at the St. Gabriel Research Station, and Dr. Ron Levy, county agent in Acadia Parish.

The top staff awards went to Diane Schneider, administrative coordinator for the Southwest Region headquartered in Crowley, and Rebecca Lirette, research associate at the Central Research Station in Baton Rouge.

Thompson, whose specialty is reproductive physiology in horses, won the Doyle Chambers Research Award, which is presented to a researcher for long-term contributions to science and is named as a memorial to a former LSU AgCenter research director. Much of Thompson’s research has focused on endocrine involvement in reproductive and metabolic processes in horses. His nominators also noted his willingness and ability to mentor younger faculty in research excellence.

Webster, a weed scientist, received the Rogers Excellence in Research Award, which is made available through contributions from Dr. Larry Rogers, former vice chancellor for research. Webster’s research program has targeted the weed management problems in conventional rice and herbicide-tolerant rice.

Legendre received the Excellence in Extension Award. Although an extension specialist, he keeps close contact with sugarcane research and is involved with many of the research projects, including those monitoring the spread of the Mexican rice borer, which is a major threat to Louisiana’s sugarcane industry. Legendre works closely with sugarcane farmers, keeping them up-to-date with the latest research information.

Levy was selected for the Floyd S. Edmiston Award, which also pays tribute to excellence in extension education and is named after a former extension faculty member. Levy works closely with rice farmers in both Acadia and Lafayette parishes – keeping them informed of the latest research to improve their production capabilities.

Schneider is the Ganelle Bullock Staff Outstanding Service Award winner. This award is presented in recognition of loyalty to the organization, effectiveness, efficiency, creativity, a positive outlook, and care and concern for others. These were the attributes of the award’s namesake, the former director of corporate relations of the LSU AgCenter who died in 2001.

The newest award is the Outstanding Service Award for Associates, which was established in 2003, and Lirette, the manager of the swine unit at the Central Research Station, is the recipient of that honor. Lirette is not only an excellent manager but takes on the task of raising awareness of agriculture through many creative activities. For example, she hosts educational events at the station for schoolchildren.

The "Building Financially Literate Youth" program was a two-year effort from the summer of 2003 through the summer of 2005. Its organizers were honored with the Denver T. and Ferne Loupe Extension Team Award, which was made possible by donations from a retired LSU AgCenter vice chancellor and his wife.

Evaluations from the program indicate it increased Louisiana high school students’ knowledge of financial management concepts. Better yet, this knowledge will continue to increase because high school teachers across the state were trained to do a better job of teaching young people how to manage money.

Team leaders were Dr. Jeanette Tucker, associate professor, and Dr. Ann Berry, assistant professor, both in the School of Human Ecology. They were assisted in carrying out their training program by the following extension agents: Beverly Bailey, Kathy Mauthe and Laura Lea Perault, Southeast Region; Mary Virginia "Ginger" Boutwell and Cynthia Stephens, Northeast Region; Margaret Burlew and Sheri Fair, South Central Region; Melissa Cater and Julia McLain, Central Region; Carolyn Leperi and Deniese Zeringue, Crescent Region; and Cindy Richard and Adrianne Vidrine, Southwest Region.

Normally, all of these awards are presented at an annual conference of LSU AgCenter employees in December. That event was canceled this year, however, because of the aftermath of the summer’s hurricanes and the many demands on people’s time, Richardson said.

Instead, these employees will be honored at a ceremony at 4 p.m. on Jan. 26, 2006, at the Lod Cook Center on the LSU campus. That ceremony will precede the opening reception of the 2006 AgOutlook Conference, which is sponsored by the LSU AgCenter and will continue through noon the next day. For more information on the conference, go to


Writer: Linda Foster Benedict at (225) 578-2937 or

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