(03/29/23) BATON ROUGE, La. — Dionne Toombs, acting director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture, visited the LSU AgCenter on March 27 as part of her tour of land-grant universities.
While on the LSU campus, AgCenter scientists and faculty presented an update on ongoing programs and research projects funded through NIFA.
Toombs was visiting Baton Rouge to speak at the Center of Excellence for Nutrition, Health, Wellness and Quality of Life symposium at Southern University.
She said she wanted to visit the LSU AgCenter to learn more about it and see firsthand NIFA-funded programs and research.
NIFA is the extramural grant funding agency for agricultural research, education and extension programs across the nation.
Matt Lee, interim LSU vice president for agriculture and dean of the College of Agriculture, said the AgCenter was happy to host Toombs for a visit.
“When we heard that you would be here today, we decided to pull together a team to let you know a little about what we’re doing with regard to our scholarly programs and our extension work,” he said.
The AgCenter presentations included updates on programs such as the Agricultural Sciences Professional Internships in Research and Extension (ASPIRE) program; the Extension COVID Immunization Training and Education (EXCITE) program; low-glycemic rice; sustainable rice production; and invasive insects.
Toombs said her campus visits help connect NIFA as the funding agency to the impact of the work from the investments.
“But most importantly, these campus visits allow us to meet and visit with the people who make the programs successful and those who benefit from them,” she said.
Previously, Toombs was director of the Office of the Chief Scientist, where she provided leadership on a wide range of issues affecting science programs and science policy in agricultural research, education and economics.
Toombs also provided scientific leadership and coordination to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, National Science and Technology Council working groups, across USDA and other federal agencies, and the agricultural community.
Toombs earned her doctorate in nutritional sciences from Howard University, her Master of Science in food science from Alabama A&M University and her Bachelor of Science in biology from Bethune-Cookman University.
“Our visit today with the LSU AgCenter was tremendously helpful to learn about all the important work you are doing to address health, nutrition, agriculture and community needs in the state,” she said.
Matt Lee, interim LSU vice president for agriculture and dean of the College of Agriculture, listens as Dionne Toombs, acting director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, speaks during her visit to the AgCenter on March 27 as part of her tour of land-grant universities. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter
LSU AgCenter college and career readiness specialist Christina Zito-Hebert and Monica Guient, assistant vice president for diversity, inclusion and opportunity for the LSU AgCenter and College of Agriculture, discuss the ASPIRE internship program during a visit of the acting director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to Baton Rouge on March 27. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter