Olivia McClure | 12/6/2016 3:27:47 PM
(12/06/16) CROWLEY, La. – Students from southwest Louisiana schools got an up-close look at careers in agriculture ranging from equipment sales to entomology at an event held Dec. 1 at the LSU AgCenter H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station in Crowley.
About 80 students attended the third annual career day, during which AgCenter researchers and extension agents explained their roles in the agriculture industry and what kind of work they do day to day. They also heard from LSU College of Agriculture recruiters and members of the Les Voyageurs student ambassador organization about degree programs and the admission process.
“The goal is to expose high school students to career opportunities in agriculture,” said Lanette Hebert, southwest regional 4-H coordinator. “There’s a lot of misconceptions about what agriculture is, and this type of event helps them to see all the possibilities, from ag engineering to ag communications to plant science and animal science.”
Eric Webster, AgCenter weed scientist and assistant southwest regional director, encouraged the students to consider attending college to study agriculture.
“There’s a wide area you’re qualified for. An ag degree doesn’t lock you in,” he said, adding that some of his former weed science students have gone on to become lawyers.
Vinton High School agriculture teacher Charlotte Trahan has brought her class to previous AgCenter career days and returned this year. She said many of her students participate in 4-H and have showed livestock but usually are not aware of careers involving other aspects of agriculture.
The career day “makes them think, ‘I really like doing this. I can go a whole other direction with this,’” Trahan said.
Shelby Thibodeaux, of St. Mary Parish, and Wyatt Kennedy, of Acadia Parish, said they learned more about areas of agriculture they weren’t familiar with. Thibodeaux said she wants to be a veterinarian but enjoyed hearing about ag business because the two fields require some of the same skills.
“You have to work and communicate with people,” she said.
“I don’t think people understand how much agriculture truly affects everything we do,” he said. “There’s agriculture in your clothing, there’s agriculture in your home – it’s literally everywhere you go.”
At the communications session, students heard about the rewards of jobs that involve writing and speaking about agriculture, including opportunities to work with many different people and learn about science, technology and other topics. They filmed, edited and watched a mock TV show called “Going Places,” in which students took on the roles of a host, interviewees and studio audience members.
David Savoie and Patrick Hensgens, with the Sunshine Quality Solutions equipment dealership, talked about the skills needed to work in the business side of agriculture as well as the growing role of technology in the industry. Hensgens showed students the JDLink computer program used to maintain John Deere equipment and provide information such as a tractor’s fuel consumption.
AgCenter entomologist Mike Stout discussed his research on the rice water weevil, which can cause major yield reductions, and how he helps farmers develop pest control strategies. St. Martin Parish county agent Stuart Gauthier told the students that entomology is a big part of his job because people often consult him for help with managing insects they find on their plants.
AgCenter extension personnel – including county agents Andrew Granger and Jeremy Hebert, 4-H agents Christina Hebert and Margo Castro, and southwest regional family and consumer sciences coordinator Robin Landry – said their jobs offer a lot of variety and allow them to meet many people.
“What we do is study the research being done at the university and extend it to the people,” Granger said.
Briley Richard, of Cameron Parish, left, interviews Christopher Aguillar, center, and Stryker Oleske, right, both of Lafayette Parish, during a taping of a mock TV show called “Going Places.” The activity was part of an agriculture career day held on Dec. 1 at the LSU AgCenter H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station in Crowley. Photo by Olivia McClure/LSU AgCenter
Stuart Gauthier, county agent in St. Martin Parish, left, helps Christopher Aguillar, center, and Stryker Oleske, right, both of Lafayette Parish, locate the queen in a display bee hive during an agriculture career day held on Dec. 1 at the LSU AgCenter H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station in Crowley. Photo by Olivia McClure/LSU AgCenter
Vermilion Parish county agent Andrew Granger, left, explains the difference between monocot and diocot plants to Cheyanne Longrie, of Lafayette Parish, during an agriculture career day held on Dec. 1 at the LSU AgCenter H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station in Crowley. Photo by Olivia McClure/LSU AgCenter
Ida Wenefrida, a researcher at the LSU AgCenter H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station in Crowley, at left in pink blazer, tells students about laboratory equipment used to study rice during a career day held at the station on Dec. 1. Photo by Olivia McClure/LSU AgCenter