• By Kenneth Gautreaux •
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture announced the winners of their annual faculty and staff awards during a recent virtual ceremony.
Blair Hebert, an area agricultural agent from Iberia Parish, received the Floyd S. Edmiston Award for his efforts with the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service. Hebert has worked for the AgCenter for 26 years with a focus on row crop field work and 4-H activities.
Hebert has served as Iberia Parish chair since 2008 and is responsible for overseeing parish Extension programming and personnel. His role in yearly 4-H fundraisers has helped the Iberia Parish 4-H foundation grow from $20,000 to more than $250,000. In 2018, he became the area sugarcane agent for Acadia, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Martin, St. Mary and Vermilion parishes.
Sara Shields, Central Region horticulture agent, was the recipient of the Extension Excellence Award. She is the coordinator of the Louisiana Master Gardener Program, overseeing more than 1,500 volunteers across the state.
Shields has spearheaded several important changes to the program — like introducing a “flipped classroom” training model, updating training materials and using new technologies to engage volunteers. She also helps organize educational programs and events such as AgMagic Cenla.
Receiving the G & H Seed Co. Inc. Research Award was Jeff Davis, an entomologist housed on the Baton Rouge campus in the Department of Entomology. This award recognizes a researcher who has conducted exemplary work during the past five years.
Davis’ research focuses on the biology and management of multiple insect species across several crop systems, including soybean, sweet potato and grain sorghum.
He created an internationally recognized integrated pest management program for controlling the invasive redbanded stinkbug, a leading crop pest of soybeans.
Zhi-yuan Chen received the Doyle Chambers Award. As a plant pathologist on the Baton Rouge campus, he conducts innovative research addressing critical needs of corn and soybean production, which represent more than 50% of the state’s total row crop acreage.
Chen has developed novel strategies that have helped reduce aflatoxin infection in corn. He has generated funding from 67 competitive grants totaling more than $3 million to support his research.
A team that developed an integrated pest management strategy program for Tabasco peppers received the Denver T. and Ferne Loupe Extension Team Award. Members of the team are Mary Helen Ferguson, Kiki Fontenot, Raj Singh and Ron Strahan.
The team was formed to help find solutions to biotic and abiotic plant problems caused by Louisiana’s hot, humid climate. The group developed a manual and pocket guide containing information on all aspects of Tabasco plant health issues.
The program recommended by the group has led to a 50% reduction of pesticide usage during the last two years, according to officials with the McIlhenny Company.
Margo Castro, Assumption Parish 4-H agent, and Cherie Roger, Terrebonne Parish 4-H agent, received the Rosalie Bivin 4-H Youth Development Award. The two were recognized for their hurricane relief efforts in the Southwest Region.
Deborah Cormier, an administrative coordinator in the St. Martin Parish Extension office, was the winner of the Ganelle Bullock Outstanding Service Award.
Chris Dunaway, an Extension horticulture agent in St. Charles Parish, was named winner of the Outstanding Service Award for Associates.
Lynn Kennedy, alumni professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness, received the Sedberry Award for Outstanding Graduate Teacher.
Lisa Fultz, an associate professor in the School of Plant, Environmental and Soil Sciences, was awarded the Sedberry Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Teacher.
Nathan Lord was the author of the Louisiana Agriculture Magazine Article of the Year. The article was entitled “Color of Jewels: Studies of Beetle Coloration Shed Light on Insect Sight and Communication.”
Service awards were presented to two faculty members for their years of service on the Louisiana Agriculture magazine’s editorial board. Recipients were Naveen Adusmilli, associate professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness, and William “Buddy” Pittman, professor at the Hill Farm Research Station in Homer.
Kenneth Gautreaux is an LSU AgCenter communications specialist. He may be reached at CGautreaux@agcenter.lsu.edu.