LSU AgCenter News for Summer 2020

Little elected state president of 4-H at virtual conference

Head shot of woman in green jacket.

Anna Little

Anna Little, of Winn Parish, was elected Louisiana 4-H president during 4-H University, which was held virtually June 22-25. The other officers are Ty Hebert, of Vermilion Parish, vice president; Emily Deshotel, of Evangeline Parish, secretary; Avery Vandeven, of Tensas Parish, historian/reporter; and Mallory Meaux, of Vermilion Parish, parliamentarian.

This was the 106th annual event and the first not held on the LSU campus in Baton Rouge. 4-H’ers from across the state typically stay on campus for the week and participate in educational programs and contests, convene to elect new state officers and leadership boards, and take part in social activities. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, 4-H agents and volunteers decided to move the entire event online.

“The sheer magnitude of developing the virtual 4-H University took many dedicated 4-H professionals and IT specialists,” said Janet Fox, LSU AgCenter 4-H department head. “We all had a steep learning curve, but in the end, I’m so proud and amazed by the responsiveness of our 4-H professionals and the resilience of our 4-H members.” Tobie Blanchard

Horticulture field day continues in virtual format

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing the LSU AgCenter to develop new ways to communicate horticulture information, and virtual field days is one technique. This summer’s field day at the Hammond Research Station, which focuses on horticulture research, is now available online at

The virtual tour begins with the Allen D. Owings Sun Garden, a popular garden on the station that features bedding plant trials and showcases the Louisiana Super Plants program. The second garden on the tour is the Margie Yates Jenkins Azalea Garden, dedicated to Jenkins (now deceased) and her contributions to the local horticulture and nursery industry. The largest garden at the station is the Piney Woods Garden with a little over six acres, where tree and woody shrubs are evaluated. The smallest garden at the station is the 1-acre Shade Garden, where work is done on bedding plants that do well in shade. Johnny Morgan

Students donate school garden bounty to senior citizens

Three women standing by table full of cucumbers.

Students at the J.S. Aucoin Elementary School donated cucumbers from their school garden project to the Morgan City Senior Citizens Center. These three drivers — Deidre Boyd, Charlette Bartholomew and Cheri Hebert — distributed the cucumbers to the seniors. The school garden was a project coordinated by Jessica Randazzo, LSU AgCenter area nutrition agent, as part of the AgCenter’s Healthy Communities program. Photo by Lisa Daigle

Two 4-H’ers named ‘Student of the Year’

Head shot of young man in green jacket.

Tay Moore

Portrait of young man in coat and tie.

Zachary Cryer

Two north Louisiana 4-H’ers have been named Student of the Year in this year’s competition.

They are immediate past state 4-H president Antavion “Tay” Moore, of Ringgold High School in Bienville Parish, and Zachary Cryer, from Benton Middle School in Bossier Parish. Moore won in the 12th grade division, and Cryer was named the eighth grade Student of the Year.

The annual Louisiana Department of Education competition begins at the local level, where each school in the state submits the name of one member of its student body. From there, the students advance to regionals, and then state competition. Students are selected based on academic success; career and technical achievements; leadership skills; character; and service to their schools and communities. Johnny Morgan

Swale studies viruses that devastate bee colonies

Portrait of Professor Swale.

Daniel Swale

In the fight against viruses that have devastated honeybee colonies in recent years, an LSU AgCenter researcher is eyeing a physiological pathway as a potential solution.

Entomologist Daniel Swale is working to learn more about a pathway that carries potassium ions through insects’ bodies and could help combat ailments such as deformed wing virus in bees.

“We’ve found a new physiological pathway that can help boost bees’ immune system,” said Swale, who recently was awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture to study the pathway in bees. He also has received a second NIFA grant to study a similar pathway in aphids and stink bugs that could offer a way to control populations of the pests, which wreak havoc on agricultural crops.

In the bee project, Swale is focusing on the potassium-transport channel’s connection to antiviral defenses. Much research has been done on factors negatively affecting bee colonies, Swale said, such as being exposed to pesticides and having limited foraging opportunities. But less is known about how to take advantage of bee physiology to mitigate the damage caused by those stressors.

“This study aims to bridge knowledge gaps that increase our understanding of bee immune system regulation as well as reveal novel intervention points to increase colony health and sustainability,” Swale said. Olivia McClure

8/4/2020 4:27:15 PM
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