Alumna works to fight poverty, hunger
Nancy Williams is using her background in horticulture to fight poverty. Williams, a 1990 graduate of the LSU College of Agriculture, is the CEO of No More Empty Pots, a grassroots nonprofit organization in Omaha, Nebraska.
Williams grew up in Coushatta, Louisiana, where her family grew a lot of their own food. She participated in 4-H and FFA, and those connections and several scholarships led her to the College of Agriculture. “I felt competent in my horticulture class,” she said. “I like winning and was getting better grades in those classes.”
Williams was one of the pioneering students starting the college’s ambassador group, Les Voyageurs. She was also a member of the Horticulture Club, Black Culture Club, Sigma Alpha, an agriculture sorority, and several other student organizations. As a representative of Sigma Alpha, she helped to integrate LSU’s Panhellenic Council.
After graduation, Williams went to Cornell University for her master’s degree. She spent summers working for DuPont and was eventually hired full-time.
Her path took a turn when she began working for City Sprouts, a nonprofit in Omaha focused on community gardens. She then started doing information technology for the Boys and Girls Club in Omaha. This eventually led her to No More Empty Pots.
Williams told her story to College of Agriculture students as part of the college’s Alumni Speaker Series. “If you are not here in service of humanity, what are you here for?” she asked.
Williams and her organization are helping to build a coalition in Omaha to help alleviate hunger, but more importantly fight poverty. “I believe in the power of good food and good nutrition,” she said. “Good nutrition gives you options.”
She encouraged the students to be authentic and gave them advice on leadership and finding a moral compass. “Know what are non-negotiables for you, so you won’t waiver,” she said.
“Even if you are not striving to change the world, at least try to make it better.” Tobie Blanchard
Elzer named Executive Associate Dean
The LSU College of Agriculture has named Phil Elzer executive associate dean. He also serves as director of the college’s School of Animal Sciences and as LSU AgCenter associate vice president for animal programs and natural resources.
A professor of veterinary science and veterinary immunology, Elzer has conducted brucellosis research at the AgCenter for more than 22 years.
He holds a bachelor’s degree from Rochester Institute of Technology, and a master’s degree and doctorate in veterinary immunology from Cornell University.
Elzer plans to serve as a liaison between the dean and the department heads in the college, while developing strategic initiatives at the college and unit levels. His goals include developing a graduate programming committee and refining the college’s recruitment efforts. Tobie Blanchard
Natural resource ecology student received medal
Emily Hartdegen, who graduated in December with a degree in natural resource ecology and management, received the LSU distinguished communicator medal, which recognizes students who complete the Communication across the Curriculum program, a resource for all majors to enhance their writing, speaking, visual and technological skills.
Growing up near the coast of Louisiana in Metairie, Hartdegen was aware of issues concerning the environment, which ultimately influenced her decision to concentrate in wetland science.
“It is surprising how little people know about the issues concerning Louisiana’s coast,” Hartdegen said. “I joined CxC because I think it is really important to be able to communicate knowledge in an effective and easy to understand way.”
Hartdegen worked with renewable natural resources professor Mike Kaller as her faculty adviser and CxC College of Science coordinator Becky Carmichael to develop her portfolio.
Students who participate in the program are required to take four communication courses within their major, attend workshops and create a portfolio. Tobie Blanchard
At the CxC Medal Ceremony are, from left, Becky Carmichael, CxC College of Science coordinator; Emily Hartdegen, distinguished communicator recipient; and Bill Richardson, LSU vice president for agriculture and dean of the College of Agriculture. Photo by Tobie Blanchard
Les Voyageurs participate in service trip to New Orleans
Les Voyageurs, a group of LSU College of Agriculture student ambassadors, spent the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend participating in a service and professional development trip to New Orleans.
The first stop on the trip was Springfield High School for a classroom recruiting visit. The group also toured Diversified Foods and Seasonings in Covington, where they sampled sauces and gravy. Les Voyageurs conducted Ag in the Classroom activities at KIPP Believe Primary School in New Orleans. They finished the day visiting the design studio of alumna Suzanne Perron St. Paul and enjoying dinner with alumna Joy Bruce.
The following day, the group conducted service projects at Second Harvest Food Bank and City Park. They packaged 10,000 pounds of food at the food bank and helped City Park staff remove strands of lights from the park. They also visited Grow Dat to learn about youth and urban agriculture.
The final day included a visit to the WWII Museum and a reflection on the weekend’s activities.
Peyton Arthur, a junior studying agricultural and extension education, said the trip was a reminder of the reason they are ambassadors. "Not only are we able to promote and teach agriculture, we are also able to learn more about the industry we advocate for," Arthur said.
The team is now preparing for a spring break trip to Poland. Tobie Blanchard
Two receive University Medals at December commencement
Bryce Loshen and Caroline Blanchard