County agents honor two at state meeting

Bruce Schultz  |  5/25/2013 12:45:33 AM

Keith Hawkins. Photo by Bruce Schultz

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Rene Schmit. Photo by Bruce Schultz

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News Release Distributed 05/24/13

ABBEVILLE, La. – The Louisiana County Agents Association honored two of its members on May 21 at the organization’s annual convention.

Keith Hawkins, LSU AgCenter county agent in Beauregard Parish, received the LCAA Achievement Award. He works with the forestry industry, along with livestock, field crops, 4-H, gardening and beekeeping.

The Distinguished Service Award went to René Schmit, LSU AgCenter county agent in St. Charles Parish and coordinator of the Louisiana Master Gardener program.

The two will be recognized at the National Association of County Agricultural Agents convention in Pittsburgh, Pa., in September.

Chosen as president for the upcoming year was Terrence Marshall, LSU AgCenter county agent in East Baton Rouge Parish, to replace Stuart Gauthier, LSU AgCenter county agent in St. Martin Parish.

More than 70 LCAA members attended the 67th annual meeting of the organization. It was the first time the event has been in Abbeville.

Bill Richardson, LSU AgCenter chancellor, told the organization that the number of LSU AgCenter employees has decreased from approximately 1,600 several years ago to fewer than 800 now. He said that means some of the services offered to the public will have to be scaled back or eliminated.

“We just can’t take 800 people and do what 1,600 people were doing.”

He also said a reduction in the administrative staff and a re-organization is saving money, and more decision-making will be done at the regional level.

Despite cutbacks, he said, parish offices will remain open. “I am committed to parish-based programs in this state. The role of extension in Louisiana has never been more critical.”

The LCAA also recognized Virgie Foreman of Vermilion Parish who will be inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame in Washington, D.C., in October.

Foreman, 91, has been working with 4-H for 61 years. Terril Faul, retired LSU AgCenter 4-H Department head and a former 4-H agent in Vermilion Parish, said Foreman’s life has revolved around family and 4-H.

“She’s the ultimate 4-H role model,” Faul said, adding that she has held a number of parish and state offices for 4-H support organizations and conducted 4-H fundraising campaigns for scholarships.

Shannan Waits, LSU AgCenter 4-H agent in Vermilion Parish, said the Vermilion Parish 4-H Foundation has agreed to pay the costs of Foreman’s trip to Washington.

Bruce Schultz

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