LSU AgCenter appoints Tara Smith as Central Region director

Karol Osborne  |  8/17/2018 6:22:11 PM

(08/17/18) ALEXANDRIA, La. — The LSU AgCenter has named Tara Smith, former Northeast Region director, as director of the AgCenter Central Region. Her office will be at the Dean Lee Research and Extension Center near Alexandria.

Smith, a 12-year veteran with the AgCenter, served as director of the Northeast Region since February 2013 and began transitioning to the Central Region position in March 2018. Her appointment became fully effective July 1.

“I see tremendous opportunity in the Central Region and look forward to working with faculty, staff and stakeholders to meet clientele needs,” Smith said.

AgCenter plant pathologist Boyd Padgett, who served previously as the Central Region director for six years before assuming much of retired specialist Clayton Hollier’s former assignments, said he is pleased to be returning to the field and moving forward in his new role as extension research specialist and LSU College of Agriculture professor. Padgett will remain domiciled at Dean Lee and have statewide responsibilities.

“I am excited to be teaching on campus and working with young people who are the future leaders in the agriculture industry,” he said.

Smith will continue to serve as the Louisiana sweet potato specialist and coordinate efforts at the AgCenter Sweet Potato Research Station near Chase. In this capacity she will remain as the primary point of contact for the sweet potato industry and extension programming along with Myrl Sistrunk, AgCenter extension associate, supporting statewide outreach efforts.

As the Central Region director, Smith also will oversee 4-H, nutrition, and agriculture and natural resource efforts in a 10-parish area that includes Allen, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Evangeline, Grant, LaSalle, Point Coupee, Rapides, St. Landry and Vernon parishes.

Smith said the Dean Lee center has a talented group of faculty and staff working in the areas of field crop agronomy and pest management as well beef cattle research and extension programs.

“Our region has some dynamic programs, and I am excited about two AgCenter events already underway,” Smith said.

AgMagic Cenla, a two-day, school-based program offering hands-on agriculture-related learning experiences, will be offered for the first time in that region in November. The Dean Lee station will host the second annual crop production and pest management field day and expo next June, she said.

Smith earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Louisiana at Monroe, a master’s degree in biology from Louisiana Tech University and a doctorate in entomology from LSU.

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Tara Smith

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