Ashley Edwards, who hails from central Texas, began work with the LSU AgCenter on Dec. 1, 2019, as an assistant extension agent and the coordinator for regional animal sciences programs in the Central, Northwest and Northeast regions.
Considering her extensive background dealing with livestock where she grew up right outside of Austin, she quickly explains the difference in the way operations are structured here versus in Texas.
“That is limestone country,” she said. “There are lots of rock quarries. So, the management of forage is totally different.”
And it rains here, she laughingly said. “My parents wouldn’t appreciate me saying that much.”
Edwards, with degrees from Texas A&M University, including a Ph.D. in 2015, served as assistant professor of animal sciences at Louisiana Tech University before coming the AgCenter.
As is fairly normal for a central Texas native, Edwards said she grew up on a commercial cow-calf operation and was an avid 4-H and FFA member competing in livestock judging, goat, lamb, hog and cattle shows.
“I was the typical ag kid. I was in 4-H and FFA, and showing livestock was a big part of my childhood,” she said.
Edwards feels that she had a lifetime of on-the-job experience in animal sciences before she even got to college.
“Growing up working with livestock was pretty much my entire focus,” she said.
While her previous teaching role concentrated primarily on animal nutrition and livestock production, Edwards has an extensive research background in the integration of nutrition, reproduction and physiology in animal production.
“I am looking forward to having a more direct impact on livestock production, working with producers to assess their needs and goals,” she said, adding that a goal is to stimulate sales of local beef and to promote Louisiana beef in the state.
Edwards has previous experience working with AgCenter experts at the North Louisiana Livestock Show at Ag Expo in West Monroe, the Louisiana State Fair Livestock Show in Shreveport, and the Louisiana Producer Artificial Insemination School at the AgCenter Hill Farm Research Station.
“I absolutely love working with youth,” she said, adding that her 4-H and FFA background inspires her to provide the same leadership for youth that she received from her former mentors and leaders.
Edwards has offices in all three regions and supports programming across the animal science-related areas, including commercial-scale operations, small herds and 4-H livestock activities.
Edwards and her husband, Chuck, reside near Farmersville in Union Parish. She said they don’t have any livestock right now, but it’s coming.
Johnny Morgan is a writer, photographer and communication specialist with LSU AgCenter Communications.
(This article appears in the summer 2020 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)
Ashley Edwards is an animal sciences extension agent and coordinator for animal sciences programs with offices in the Central, Northwest and Northeast regions for the LSU AgCenter. Photo by Jason Holmes
One of Edwards’ goals as a livestock specialist is to promote Louisiana beef in the state and encourage people to buy local. Photo by Jason Holmes