(01/28/22) BATON ROUGE, La. — Jennifer Duhon is leading the LSU AgCenter’s effort to improve the health and wellbeing of central Louisiana residents.
Duhon, a registered dietitian, serves as the family and consumer sciences program coordinator for a 10-parish area and as a nutrition agent for Rapides and Avoyelles parishes.
She has more than 17 years of experience in clinical dietetics, nutrition education, food service management, and agricultural marketing and promotion. She previously worked as an AgCenter nutrition agent from 2012 to 2015.
Duhon has a Bachelor of Science in dietetics and a Master of Science in nutrition, both from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
“I’ve been able to work in many different arenas in nutrition and dietetics,” she said. “I am excited to be back with the AgCenter and get to work with our clients.”
One of Duhon’s first big projects is a partnership with LSU Alexandria.
“We want to provide a healthy community program for students and faculty and help them see we encompass so much more than just nutrition and physical education,” she said.
She also plans to do a “story walk” — an outdoor reading experience with signs that tell a children’s story along a path — at the Alexandria Zoo.
Nutrition agents in her area already have solid relationships with LSU Eunice and Fort Polk that she hopes to build on.
Duhon didn’t follow a path to dietetics from the start. She knew she wanted to pursue a career in healthcare and thought pharmacy was the path she would take. In college, she soon realized there was little interaction with clients and patients, and with her outgoing personality, she knew she wanted to work directly with the public.
The career she was destined for was with her all along. Duhon’s grandmother was a nutrition educator for the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program for 40 years.
“I didn’t connect it until I considered being a dietitian and realized I’ve been hearing these nourishing talks all of my life,” she said. “I switched my major and fell in love with the patient-client connection.”
Duhon’s first job, which followed in her grandmother’s footsteps, was with the WIC program in Alexandria. Her career also took her to the Acadian Medical Center and the National Dairy Council.
She said rejoining the AgCenter is like coming home, and she is excited about working with familiar programs such as Let’s Eat for the Health of It and Dining with Diabetes as well as starting up new ones.
She said the influence of social media on health and wellness is a new challenge that wasn’t as prevalent during her first stint at the AgCenter.
“We are having to fight to provide factual information about what is healthy,” she said.
Duhon said she has a passion to help her clients understand the importance of science and research-based information and to not pick up on fads promoted by social media influencers.
Jennifer Duhon serves as the LSU AgCenter Central Region family and consumer sciences program coordinator and a nutrition agent for Rapides and Avoyelles parishes.