LSU AgCenter Volunteer Named National Winner

J. Wayne Burgess, Abington-Cooper, Michele, Benedict, Linda F.  |  4/21/2005 11:49:32 PM

News Release Distributed 01/13/05

An LSU AgCenter volunteer has received national recognition for her work in the Louisiana 4-H youth development program.

Betsy A. Brien from Belle Chasse has been named one of six winners of the 2005 National 4-H Wildlife and Fisheries Volunteer Leader Recognition Award. Brien is the public affairs director at the ConocoPhillips Refinery in Plaquemines Parish and a volunteer for 4-H activities in that area.

She will receive her award at the 70th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Arlington, Va., March 16-19, according to Wayne Burgess, LSU AgCenter 4-H agent in Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes, who nominated her.

Brien, who has a master’s degree in environmental health, has been involved in the 4-H Aquatic Education Program in Plaquemines Parish. Through this program, about 500 4-H’ers each year are taught marine ecology. Brien has contributed her time and been instrumental in obtaining financial help for the program from ConocoPhillips, Burgess said.

Brien also has worked with St. Bernard and Plaquemines parish 4-H Junior Leadership Club members on the Breton Island Restoration Project. One aspect of the project has been to install sand fencing for erosion control.

"This work was adversely affected by Tropical Storms Lili and Isidore in 2002," Burgess said. "Restoration of the island looked dismal. However, Betsy was able to secure funding from ConocoPhillips to purchase 1,000 feet of sand fencing."

In addition, 13,000 salt-tolerant plants were planted behind the dunes created by the sand fencing. Since that time, ConocoPhillips has purchased additional sand fencing and has set aside money to construct a greenhouse at Buras High School, Burgess said.

"This greenhouse will be used to produce salt-tolerant plants for Breton Island. The greenhouse also will be used to teach biology to other students at the school," Burgess said.

Long-range plans are to use some of these plants to establish a seed-to-sod program in the elementary schools in St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes, Burgess said. Teachers will be allowed to grow some of the plants at their schools to be transplanted at a later date. While they are growing the plants, there will be lesson plans available to the teachers to inform their students about Louisiana's coastal issues.

The five other winners of this national award are John D. Withers, Mississippi; Ricky Linex, Texas; Gregory P. Turner, Arkansas; Rebecca H. Marasco, Delaware; and Norb Yogerst, Wisconsin.

Other past winners of this award from Louisiana, according to Michele Abington-Cooper, LSU AgCenter 4-H specialist in Baton Rouge, have included Joe Walters, Franklin Parish; Delia Nunez, Cameron Parish; Johnny Webb, Caddo Parish; and Melissa Whittington, Bossier Parish.

4-H is the youth development and outreach program of the nation’s land-grant universities. It is operated in Louisiana by the LSU AgCenter and is designed to help young people develop knowledge and skills that will benefit them, their families and their communities throughout their lives.


                    Wayne Burgess at (504) 278-4234 or 
                    Michele Abington-Cooper at (225) 578-2196
                    Linda Foster Benedict at (225) 578-2937 or

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