Agriculture organization returns to LSU after 6 years

Johnny Morgan, Richardson, William B.

Jewel Butler, former national president of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences, known as MANRRS, is greeted by Bill Richardson, LSU vice president for agriculture, at the LSU chapter’s fall kickoff meeting in the LSU Student Union on Oct. 3. Butler was the guest speaker and reminded the students that MANRRS is an organization that strongly encourages networking, diversity and personal awareness. (Photo by Johnny Morgan)

News Release Distributed 10/11/13

BATON ROUGE, La. – The LSU chapter of the national society of MANRRS held its kickoff meeting in the LSU Student Union on Oct. 2 to let students know that the chapter is back and ready to regain its name recognition.

The LSU chapter began losing membership around the time Hurricane Katrina caused so much disruption to south Louisiana. By 2007, the organization was no longer active on campus.

Bianca Teats, advisor to the LSU chapter, said before the chapter became inactive, it was recognized as one of the strongest in the country.

“The LSU chapter was active on the national level in competition, and in 2006, Toni Dangerfield, a member of the LSU chapter, served as the national undergraduate president.”

The national MANRRS organization was charted in 1986, mainly as an organization for Minorities in Agriculture Natural Resources and Related Sciences to network and become aware of the many opportunities that are available.

Through a renewed interest by current students and encouragement from the organization’s national office and the College of Agriculture dean’s office, the organization is roaring back and looking for interested students to become a part of the new MANRRS at LSU, Teats said.

Bill Richardson, LSU vice president for agriculture and the new dean of the College of Agriculture, said he was dean of the college when MANRRS was first organized at LSU, and he pledged to give the organization all the support that he has available.

“I want you to know that I’m in your corner, and I’m ready to go, and we’ll make this meeting even bigger next year,” Richardson said. “I want to challenge you. When you’re walking around campus, each one of you can invite one more person to your next meeting.”

At the organization’s kickoff meeting, Kenneth Miles, interim vice provost, LSU Office of Equity, Diversity and Community Outreach, gave opening remarks. Jewel Butler, the former national president from Washington D.C., was the guest speaker.

Miles told the students that MANRRS is representative of the university’s Flagship 2020 agenda, and he assured them that their work in rebuilding the chapter is important and will pay dividends.

Butler, who is currently employed by the United States Department of Homeland Security, reminded the students that MANRRS is an organization that strongly encourages networking.

“As you’re attending your regional and national meetings, don’t stick with the people you came with,” Butler said. “The goal is to meet as many new people as possible.”

Butler reminded those in attendance that the organization’s name causes a little identity issue because it excludes no one. “We are not about cows, sows and plows in agriculture anymore,” Butler said.

She advised students that networking is important, and it can happen anywhere.

Butler reminded the students that “you have to visit your past to establish your future.” She advised that they never allow the LSU chapter to become inactive again.

“Once you establish your chapter back on this campus, do what you need to do to pass the torch, to pass the legacy on to make sure that does not happen again,” she said.

Butler challenged the members to look beyond the physical when they think about diversity of membership for the chapter.

“When we think of diversity, it’s normally about what we can see – African-American, Hispanic or Asian,” Butler said. “But this is only the diversity of what we see. Think about the invisible diversity – thought, perspective, background and where you live.”

She said African-American women could stand beside her, and they would all be diverse.

“I may bring a different perspective because I was born in Africa,” she said. “My appreciation for education may be different because in Africa we think we value education more than people in America.”

She asked if this could be because of the opportunities that people in America have that people in Africa don’t have.

Teats said some members will attend the regional meeting in Austin, Texas on Oct. 12-13, where they will learn in workshop sessions, interview for jobs with government and industry, and network with members from other states.

Johnny Morgan
10/11/2013 7:31:49 PM
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