LSU AgCenter hosts ag career day

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Courtney Garber, of Acadia Parish, looks at an experiment being conducted in the lab of LSU AgCenter agronomist Dustin Harrell. Photo by Bruce Schultz

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LSU AgCenter molecular geneticist Herry Utomo explains the work he conducts using analysis of DNA in rice to improve quality of new rice varieties. Photo by Bruce Schultz

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Shelby Thibodeaux, of St. Mary Parish, reacts after reaching inside a cow’s rumen to feel digested grass. Photo by Bruce Schultz

(04/22/16) CROWLEY, La. – Students from nine parishes in southwest Louisiana attended the LSU AgCenter Southwest Regional Agricultural Career Day on Thursday (April 21), aimed at explaining the different job opportunities in agriculture.

Held at the LSU AgCenter H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station, the event drew four dozen students from high schools and middle schools from St. Martin, St. Mary, Vermilion, Acadia, Calcasieu, Iberia, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette and Cameron parishes.

Leslie Blanchard, assistant dean of the LSU College of Agriculture, said the job demand in agriculture exceeds the number of graduates nationwide. “We really need you guys to major in agriculture,” she said.

Rogers Leonard, LSU AgCenter associate vice president, said agriculture courses are required for several career paths at LSU.

A college education is available for almost anyone who wants it. “There is no one in this room who couldn’t go to college,” Leonard said.

A career in agricultural research is aimed at helping farmers. “It’s a very challenging but very rewarding career,” said Rice Research Station director Steve Linscombe.

Louise Wicker, director of the LSU School of Nutrition and Food Sciences, explained nutrition research work being conducted by undergraduate and graduate students and how the work applies to the agriculture field.

LSU food science major Ariana Bailey asked students if they were considering a career in the nutrition field. She admitted her initial goal was veterinary medicine, but she changed her mind after taking a few courses. “You get in there, and you find what you love,” she said.

LSU College of Agriculture student recruiter Henry Hebert said many jobs are available to agriculture graduates. “I can guarantee you a job in the state as an agricultural educator,” he said.

AgCenter agriculture engineer Randy Price talked about the different engineering-related jobs in agriculture, including the use of drones to monitor crops. Students also got to see a drone in action.

An animal science degree offers several options, said AgCenter veterinarian Christine Navarre. But she said college students should keep their options open. “Something may click, and you’ll say, ‘This is what I want to do for the rest of my life,’” she said.

AgCenter agronomist Dustin Harrell said he started as an agriculture teacher. He returned to college to get a master’s degree to teach at the college level but decided to also get a doctorate in agronomy.

AgCenter rice breeder Adam Famoso said he obtained a two-year degree in landscaping and worked in that field. He returned to college to get a bachelor’s degree in horticulture and later a doctorate in plant breeding.

“When I was looking at college, I had no idea what I was going to do,” Famoso told the students.

He said as he continued his education, he found what his true passion in plant breeding. “I got exposed to things I didn’t even know existed,” Famoso said.

AgCenter molecular biologist Herry Utomo AgCenter rice researcher Ida Wenefrida talked about their genetic work to help rice breeders develop varieties with desired traits.

Student Gabe Liebert, of St. Martin Parish, said he is interested in the possibility of working with drones. He said he already works on helicopters.

Carlton Reeves, of Calcasieu Parish, said he was thinking of becoming a teacher, but from what he saw at the event, he will think about something related to animal science.

Kaleb Shuff, of Jefferson Davis Parish, said he lives on a rice and cattle farm, but he was intrigued by the idea of the engineering field. “It changed the way I thought about it,” he said.

4/22/2016 4:49:45 PM
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