LSU AgCenter hosts SEEDS Institute to discuss national security, collaboration

(05/31/23) BATON ROUGE, La. — Leaders from several countries recently attended the Sustaining Our Seas conference to discuss illegal fishing off Africa’s coast and a host of other national and international issues.

The meeting was hosted by the LSU AgCenter in Baton Rouge and sponsored by the Sustainable Economic and Educational Development Solutions (SEEDS) Institute. The institute is a nonprofit organization involving a cluster of government, research, education and industry leaders committed to competitiveness through innovation, sustainability, diversity and technology.

The purpose of this meeting was to tackle the global problem of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; energy, forestry and mining issues; and other international issues affecting the U.S. and Africa.

Michael Stout, AgCenter entomology department head, said the SEEDS Institute is involved in many of the same areas as the AgCenter, so collaboration will provide opportunities for joint initiatives and funding.

“The SEEDS Institute has a number of different initiatives in areas like youth development, sustainable forestry and sustainable fishing. And the AgCenter also has a variety of initiatives in those overlapping areas,” Stout said.

Determining the role of the AgCenter in the work that is already being done is one reason the meeting was held at LSU.

“This conference allows us to make connections, form collaborative networks and cooperate on some of the sustainability issues,” he said.

Former LSU and NFL players Jarvis Green and Kirston Pittman, both with businesses connected to the institute, were instrumental in getting the conference held in Baton Rouge, Stout said.

Green owns Oceans97, a wholesale shrimp company, and has a strong international presence in Africa.

Green said the reason for having the meeting here was to engage with academia, private companies and the government.

“What SEEDS communicates is that government entities don’t talk to each other,” he said. “So today we have different parts of the government coming here to educate on the knowledge, but also to explain that they have grants and other funding to help in areas of need, whether it’s domestic or international.”

Green said the institute is already working with several other universities and he wanted to bring these opportunities back home to LSU as well.

U.S. Army Maj. Jason Porter, who is one of the cofounders of SEEDS, said he hopes to see the AgCenter come on board as a collaborator.

“Right now, I see the LSU AgCenter providing valuable information in the areas of aquaculture and fisheries because we are already working with Mississippi State’s fisheries and a number of other institutions,” he said.

The institute is working in disadvantaged communities in the U.S. and Africa to create experiential learning opportunities that blend cyber and STEM to solve challenges protecting critical infrastructure and natural environment.

“One of our current projects is developing an African exchange program for students in Louisiana,” Green said. “Let’s build a campus there so we can send students and faculty and they can come here as well.”

The SEEDS Institute was founded in 2021 at the University of South Carolina and continues to work on a number of initiatives that encourage competitiveness through innovation, sustainability, diversity and technology.

The three ongoing objectives of the group are to grow the network, foster collaborative innovation and fund priority projects.

The list of collaborators includes universities such as Fresno State University, Mississippi State University, Southern University and North Carolina State University. Other organizations include the Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Small Business Administration, National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Agency for International Development.

Man speaking to a group.

Former LSU and NFL defensive end Jarvis Green, a member of the Sustainable Economic and Educational Development Solutions (SEEDS) Institute, speaks during the group’s conference at the LSU AgCenter on May 18. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter

Men at a meeting table.

Members of the Sustainable Economic and Educational Development Solutions (SEEDS) Institute were recently in Baton Rouge for their conference at the LSU AgCenter. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter

5/31/2023 2:44:26 PM
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