Matt Foster was drawn to agriculture at an early age, even though no one in his family was involved in farming.
“I was fascinated with cotton as a child,” Foster said. “When I was young, my family would always have to stop the car and let me walk through cotton fields.”
Now, Foster is the new LSU AgCenter corn, cotton and grain sorghum specialist, a position he started in January 2021.
While he always had an interest in agriculture, Foster’s first hands-on experience involved working on Cecil Parker’s sweet corn operation near Foster’s hometown of Vidalia. This experience confirmed that he was destined for a career in agriculture.
Foster’s next role involved working as a field scout in cotton, corn, grain sorghum and rice through Parker’s consulting business. This provided a good introduction to the many insects, diseases and weeds that plague crops in Louisiana.
Foster started his post-secondary education at Copiah-Lincoln Community College, and he interned with the Concordia Parish county agent at the time, Glen Daniels. Working alongside Daniels was Foster’s formal introduction to extension work, and it gave him something to aspire to.
“I really enjoy watching crops grow, and I really enjoy interacting with the people in agriculture, especially the growers,” Foster said.
Foster’s next stop was at LSU, where he majored in agriculture with an emphasis on pest management. He received his undergraduate degree in 2012 and entered graduate school, where AgCenter weed scientist Jim Griffin served as his graduate adviser. Foster received his doctorate in 2018.
Foster’s first assignment with the AgCenter was working as an area sugarcane agronomy agent for seven parishes.
As the state specialist of three crops, Foster faces some unique challenges.
“Corn and grain sorghum are somewhat similar, but cotton is definitely a different crop,” Foster said. “I’m looking forward to it.”
Foster is charged with conducting on-farm trials across the state in cooperation with parish extension agents and growers. He currently has 15 on-farm corn hybrid trials, including one at the state penitentiary at Angola.
Foster is based at the AgCenter Macon Ridge Station near Winnsboro, and he will also maintain an office at the AgCenter Northeast Research Station at St. Joseph.
Foster can be reached at email@example.com.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture