Community funds scholarship to LSU College of Agriculture

(04/29/16) WINNSBORO, La. – Some 900 acres of fertile farmland in Franklin parish have Travis Walker’s name on them. On this day with intermittent rain showers, Walker is under the gun to get the plow in the ground. An abundance of rain this spring has left a shortage of time for planting corn. Even in his late 70s Walker is anxious to get on the tractor. Agriculture is in his blood.

“I am agriculture; we are,” said the farmer of 55 years. “People in Monroe, Baton Rouge, New Orleans – even if their feet aren’t directly on the ground of agriculture, they all have something in relation to it because we feed and clothe them.”

Walker is hoping to encourage young people to go into this field he’s so fond of in his home parish of Franklin. That’s why he’s decided to help fund an endowed scholarship in the LSU College of Agriculture.

Walker has a lot of friends in the region, and they, too, are interested in supporting a student studying agriculture. Walker was surprised everyone agreed unanimously to name the scholarship for him. An endowed scholarship means that it will generate funds in perpetuity for students.

“The only way out of poverty is through education,” Walker said. “We need to make education a priority. Our politicians need to make education a priority.”

The group that came together to create the Travis Walker Scholarship is passionate about seeing the continued success of agriculture in Louisiana. They also wanted to honor Walker for his dedication to farming and family.

“Travis Walker represents everything good about agriculture, not only in northeast Louisiana but America,” said Al Ater, of Lakeland Planting. “It was an easy decision for me to make this commitment to honor him. And by doing so, it will hopefully encourage others to follow his path in life by continuing to provide safe, reliable and affordable food and fiber for the people of our country and the world.”

The scholarship is made possible by the generosity of several individuals and businesses. Individual contributors are Travis Walker, Robert Berry, Health Finley and family, and Carol Pinnell-Alison. Five Franklin Parish banks that contributed are Franklin State Bank and Trust, Winnsboro State Bank, Caldwell Bank and Trust, Citizen’s Progressive Bank and Sicily Island State Bank.

Other companies participating in the scholarship are Lansing Louisiana, a grain elevator; Crowville Gas and Tire Center; Sanders Inc., a farm input supplier and seed company; Big River Grain, a grain storage and merchandising subsidiary of Agspring; Lakeland Planting, a grain elevator; and Womack Insurance.

The contributors believe it is important to support students from their community. The scholarship will be earmarked for students from Franklin Parish studying agriculture at LSU.

The scholarship will be awarded to an incoming freshman studying agriculture and will continue for that student’s four years of undergraduate studies. If no freshman qualifies, the award may be made to another qualified student, for example, a Franklin Parish student who transfers from another university to study agriculture at LSU.

“Mr. Walker has been a longtime supporter of the agricultural community in Franklin Parish and always offered to support the activities of the LSU AgCenter,” said Rogers Leonard, AgCenter associate vice president. “The LSU College of Agriculture and LSU AgCenter thank Mr. Walker, as well as his family and friends of agriculture across northeast Louisiana, for their leadership and perseverance to make this endowment a reality.”

More information about this scholarship is available from Lindsey Fussell, director of development for the LSU College of Agriculture and LSU AgCenter, at 225-578-7323.

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Franklin Parish Farmer Travis Walker is about to take a seat in the cab of his tractor. Walker and several business leaders in Franklin Parish, Louisiana, have created the Travis Walker Scholarship for a student from Franklin Parish to study in the LSU College of Agriculture. Photo by Tammi Arender

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Several businesses and agricultural leaders in Franklin Parish came together to help fund the Travis Walker Scholarship in the LSU College of Agriculture. Among them are, from left, Rickey Womack, of Womack Insurance; David Stephens, of Sicily Island State Bank; Al Ater, of Lakeland Planting; Steven Pylant, of Winnsboro State Bank; Heath Finley, of Sanders; and Bill Walker, of Franklin State Bank and Trust. Seated in front are Carol Pinnell-Alison and Travis Walker. Photo by Tammi Arender

4/28/2016 7:12:50 PM
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