LSU AgCenter News for Spring 2019

Linda Benedict  |  5/20/2019 6:14:20 PM

Researcher focuses on sweet potato shape

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LSU AgCenter professor Arthur Villordon is researching how growers can manipulate agricultural inputs, such as fertilizer, to control the shape of the sweet potato during growth. “Knowledge about factors that determine sweet potato storage root shape is of scientific and practical importance, and growers want a predictable storage root shape,” Villordon said.

In the processing industry, especially in french fry production, more uniform, round-shaped roots are desirable, producing more uniform slices. Consistency in root shape is also needed for increased mechanization, leading to overall reduced cost of production.

Because root shape is essentially determined by length and width, Villordon’s research goal is to control the downward root growth and then focus on a subsequent increase in root diameter. Karol Osborne

Read more about how to control the shape of sweet potatoes.

Martin named Young Dietitian of the Year

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LSU AgCenter nutrition agent Elizabeth Martin received the 2019 Young Dietitian of the Year award from the Louisiana Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Association at its meeting in Baton Rouge April 9.

Before joining the AgCenter in August 2018, Martin was employed by Willis-Knighton Health System as a clinical dietitian. She is a Shreveport native and currently serves Caddo and Bossier parishes as the supervisor of the Expanded Food and Nutrition Educational Program and a general nutrition agent. Karol Osborne

Read more about the young dietitian award.

New Orleans Saints, Pelicans fund 4-H camp scholarships

One child from each of Louisiana’s 64 parishes will get to go to 4-H summer camp for free thanks to a new scholarship program funded by a $57,600 donation from the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans sports teams. The donation will support a total of 256 scholarships in the next four years. One scholarship will be given per parish per year, and the first round of awards will be made in time for the 2019 camp season.

“The New Orleans Saints and Pelicans are pleased to be able to grant students around Louisiana the opportunity to attend 4-H camps,” said New Orleans Saints and Pelicans President Dennis Lauscha. “We are committed to developing our youth and know that these scholarships will help students achieve their educational, leadership and extracurricular goals. We wish students the very best when applying for these scholarships and can’t wait to see the positive impact this opportunity makes around our state.”

In 2018, more than 4,500 children in fourth through sixth grades went to 4-H camp at the Grant Walker Education Center in Pollock. Nine weeklong camp sessions are offered between May and July each year. Olivia McClure

Read more about the 4-H camp scholarships from the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans.

Green receives first cannabis-related research grant

The LSU AgCenter has awarded the first cannabis-related research funds from an agreement with GB Sciences Louisiana, the company working with the AgCenter to produce therapeutic cannabis. Christopher Green, an AgCenter researcher, is using zebrafish to develop treatments for people suffering from epileptic seizures. Green has spent the past two years developing the zebrafish model. Through this award, he will look at using various components of the cannabis plant — including cannabidiol, or CBD, oil — to treat epilepsy. Cannabidiol is a substance extracted from the flowers and buds of marijuana or hemp plants. It does not produce intoxication like a marijuana “high,” which is caused by the chemical tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Johnny Morgan

Read more about the cannabis grant program.

4-H Clovers Care program helps Monroe-area foster kids

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Tensas Parish twins Jadyn and Jazlyn Arrington carefully select items that are both practical and age-appropriate to fill Clovers Care bags for foster adoptive youth as part of the annual 4-H Regional Leadership Board’s service-learning project. Photo by Karol Osborne

A colorful gift bag filled with personal care items, toys and games is a small gesture of kindness that can make a world of difference to a child entering foster care for the first time. Members of the Northeast Region 4-H Leadership Board have spearheaded a project for the past five years they call Clovers Care, putting about 200 age-appropriate gift bags into the hands of foster adoptive children from the Monroe region.

The Clovers Care bags include items that are helpful for children just entering care and give them something of their own. Close to 500 children are in foster care in the Monroe Department of Children and Family Services region at any given time, and the bags have been a blessing, said Wanda Washington, child welfare supervisor with the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services..

“It has been amazing to watch the youth be very intentional in buying for others,” said LSU AgCenter regional 4-H coordinator Ashley Powell, adding that board members collect money and useful items for the bags all year.

More than 25 4-H board members and adult volunteers met April 27 in Vidalia to conclude the board activities for the year with a full day of community service. The teens collected $480 in cash donations and other items valued at $350 to fill 30 Clovers Care bags this year. Karol Osborne

Read more the Clovers Care 4-H program to help foster kids.

Timber market downturn hurts Louisiana forest owners

Forest landowners voiced concerns about a lack of mills where they can sell their crop during the Florida Parishes Forestry Forum in Hammond, Louisiana, on April 5. The meeting came as landowners grapple with an overall downtown in the timber market — the effects of which have been compounded locally by the recent partial closure of the Georgia-Pacific paper mill north of Baton Rouge.

Unless there’s an increase in the demand for forest products or more mills come into the area, there probably won’t be much change in the short term for the average grower, said Whitney Wallace, LSU AgCenter forestry and wildlife resource agent.

“We know that we have to discuss these major challenges, like the lack of markets and the decline in the number of mills,” Wallace said. “We wanted to bring them together to look at all sides of the challenges so we can develop a strategy.” Johnny Morgan

Read more about how Louisiana forest owners are coping with a downturn in the market.

Eubanks inducted into USDA Hall of Fame

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Gina E. Eubanks, LSU AgCenter associate vice president, has been inducted into the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture Hall of Fame. The honor was bestowed at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on April 25. Hall of Fame inductees have helped advance NIFA’s mission to address societal issues through agricultural research, education and outreach.

Eubanks, who joined the LSU AgCenter in 2013, leads programs aimed at teaching low-income and rural audiences to make healthier choices, often in collaboration with other agencies and organizations. She also provides support for the LSU School of Nutrition and Food Sciences, focusing on preparing undergraduate and graduate students for community service.

A native of Clinton, Louisiana, Eubanks grew up participating in 4-H. She received a bachelor’s degree from Southern University and a master’s degree and doctorate in home economics from Oklahoma State University. She held teaching roles at Alcorn State University, Oklahoma State University and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, before moving to the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center, where she was promoted to vice chancellor for extension in 2002. Olivia McClure

Read more about Eubanks' induction into the ag hall of fame.

Kirk-Ballard takes over Get It Growing program

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Heather Kirk-Ballard has been named the state consumer horticulturist and takes over the lead role in producing the Get It Growing series of weekly newspaper columns and television spots. She replaces Dan Gill, who has retired. Kirk-Ballard also has a faculty appointment in the School of Plant, Environmental and Soil Sciences, where she will conduct research. Randy LaBauve

Read more the Get It Growing educational campaign.

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