Ashley Edwards: Pivoting during the pandemic to help the cattle industry

When Ashley Edwards joined the LSU AgCenter in December 2019 as an extension agent and coordinator of livestock programs, she was eager to hit the road and begin visiting producers, conducting workshops and helping 4-H youth with their livestock projects.

“This was the perfect job for me,” said Edwards, who grew up on a cow-calf operation in Central Texas and participated in livestock shows.

Within months at her new job, however, many of the events and activities that Edwards was looking forward to were canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It really shifted my job,” Edwards said. But the pandemic brought an unexpected — yet exciting — opportunity to revamp livestock extension efforts and reach a broader audience.

Edwards, who oversees livestock programs in central and northern Louisiana, and other AgCenter livestock agents turned their attention to producing online content.

For the past year, they’ve been diligently updating livestock information on the AgCenter website and regularly posting videos and podcasts aimed at producers. In addition to virtual field days, the team hosts Beef Brunch — a series of monthly educational webinars and bi-weekly news updates.

They’ve been busy planning other new programs too, such as a Beginner Cattleman course that will be offered in a hybrid format.

In-person events are gradually being reintroduced, and Edwards has been able to make some farm visits as well.

“It’s been a challenge for sure,” Edwards said, “but I’m very excited moving forward into the future.”

5/10/2021 5:20:07 PM
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