Signs demonstrating park bench exercises are installed along the Fifth Ward Park walking trail by community members Major Coleman, left, and Henry Pitts. Photo by Marquetta Anderson
Because of the LSU AgCenter Healthy Communities program, new fitness signs have been installed at a park in St. Helena Parish.
The half-mile trail at the Fifth Ward Park between Montpelier and Amite now features signs demonstrating how to check your heart rate and use park benches to exercise. The signs also tell the walking trail distances and the benefits of exercising and staying hydrated.
“Walking is a form of physical activity that everyone can participate in because it is free,” said Marquetta Anderson, AgCenter agent and St. Helena Healthy Communities Coalition facilitator.
Healthy Communities is an effort by AgCenter family and consumer sciences extension specialists and researchers, along with many partnering organizations across the state, to improve the health and nutritional status of Louisiana residents, who are among the least healthy people in the country, with high rates of obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. St. Helena Parish is one of 20 parishes in the program.
Kurt Cazayoux, of Breaux Bridge, pours soap made from goat milk into a mold. Cazayoux said goat milk is higher in butterfat than cow milk, making it an excellent ingredient in soaps. His demonstration was part of a three-day program at the LSU AgCenter Dean Lee Research and Extension Center near Alexandria in which participants learn to become Master Goat Producers. The third class of 16 received their certificates on Oct. 24. Photo by Craig Gautreaux
Nick Villaume, president of Boombox Frozen Pops and Ice Cream, moves popsicles to a hot water bath to loosen them from their molds at the creamery in the Dairy Science building on the LSU campus. Villaume is temporarily working in the creamery after Hurricane Laura damaged his production facility in Lake Charles. Photo by Olivia McClure
Soon after Nick Villaume opened a store selling popsicles in Lake Charles a few years ago, he decided he wanted to add ice cream to his offerings — but he didn’t know how to make it.
He reached out to Chuck Boeneke, an LSU AgCenter dairy science professor and manager of the Dairy Store on the LSU campus, who agreed to give Villaume lessons. With the expanded menu, Villaume’s Boombox Popsicles and Ice Cream proved a hit with local customers.
Earlier this year, Boombox expanded again — this time with a franchise opening in Baton Rouge and plans in the works for another Lake Charles location. But 2020 has also brought challenges for many business owners, including Villaume.
“COVID hit, and then the hurricane hit Lake Charles,” Villaume said, referring to Hurricane Laura, which caused extensive damage to the area in August. “Our facility was kind of dead in the water because we had no power and we had no water.”
Villaume contacted Gaye Sandoz, director of the AgCenter Food Incubator, and Boeneke and
began using the creamery in the Dairy Science building as an incubator client to keep his business going. “This has been a lifesaver for us,” Villaume said.
Orleans Parish 4-H Teen Ambassador Tyler Okoro, at right, assists 4-H’er Jace McGee in cutting fresh pineapple to make a fruit smoothie. They are members of the Orleans Parish 4-H Chef Club created during the pandemic to give junior high and high school students an educational activity. LSU AgCenter 4-H agent Alisha Okoro said the group has been meeting the second Saturday of each month to explore healthy foods, try out their culinary skills and learn food safety. Photo by Alisha Okoro
Two LSU AgCenter researchers have been awarded U.S. Department of Agriculture grants to look at ways to improve specialty crops. Yan Chen, horticulture researcher at the Hammond Research Station, will be looking at ways to improve the U.S. tea industry with a $50,000 award. The second grant for $49,997 was awarded to Jeb Fields, also at the Hammond Station, who is looking at using soilless media to grow plants.