Agriculture & Natural Resources — Agriculture is a major contributor to the economy in Acadia parish. In 2016 Acadia parish grew approximately 83,000 acres of rice, 28,000 acres of soybeans, 37,000 acres of crawfish and had almost 6,000 head of cattle. Agriculture producers play a key role in guiding the educational programs in the parish by serving on an advisory committee. They give input on production problems & ideas to researchers for future research. They identified maximizing yields as a top priority to keep producers in business during tough economic times. With the increase in production inputs, producers must maximize yields to increase profitability. Extension agents conduct educational programs & field days to give producers information needed to do this. Producers receive information on current varieties, environmental issues & marketing updates. Pesticide safety & environmental concerns are also identified as top priority at committee meetings and is incorporated in production meetings & field days. Agents hold two pesticide re-certifications.150 producers & home gardeners learn pesticide safety, handling, disposal, & renewed private pesticide applicators cards.
Acadia Parish is diverse in the area of horticulture as fruits, vegetables & nursery crops make up a majority of horticulture landscape. Calls & home visits are made throughout the year concerning a wide area of horticulture related problems. The Acadia Parish LSU AgCenter offers educational seminars to the public, provide access to research-based educational material & provide access to LSU AgCenter specialists to address these areas of concern. In addition, school gardens were implemented by the Acadia Parish LSU AgCenter to incorporate the school’s curriculum & allow it to serve as a teaching tool for students. Through the school garden program, students are involved with all phases of the school garden projects & allows for a great, alternative learning experience for students across the parish.
Family, Nutrition & Health– The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) is a community nutrition outreach program funded by the United States Department of Agriculture. The program seeks to educate limited resource audiences on how to eat healthy on a budget to reduce their risk of chronic disease & obesity. The primary audience is limited resources individuals who are: responsible for preparing family meals, have children under the age of 18 living in the home, pregnant, receiving free/reduced lunch, & between the ages of 5-18. EFNEP has four focus areas: diet quality & physical activity, food resource management, food safety, & food security. Paraprofessionals provide a series of food & physical activity lessons to clientele. Client education takes places at community sites including: head start centers, church halls, schools, extension centers, community colleges, & departments of public health.
4-H Youth & Family Development — Acadia Parish has 1,193 youth enrolled in 29 traditional clubs. The youth development program focuses on leadership development for youth /adults, volunteer management, & enriching the lives of these youth through age appropriate competitions, project workshops, community service, activities, livestock programs, overnight camps, outdoors skills training, & identifying the knowledge, skills & competences essential to conducting 4-H youth development. Our program focuses on developing healthy living that encourages a balanced lifestyle. We incorporate hands-on learning activities/projects through schools, camps, & 4-H clubs as educational tools. Our focus areas are nutrition, health/fitness, & food science. After offering 8+ hours of healthy living education, surveys are conducted from participants ages 7-16 years old. The findings were reported in September 2016 in a survey titled “2015-2016 Walmart 4-7”. The major findings were 89% or above agree/strongly agree that they learned the foods that they should eat every day, what makes up a balanced diet, why it is important to eat a healthy diet, & how to make healthy food choices. 93% or above agree that being active is fun & physical activity will help them stay fit. These findings show that 8+ hours of fun education can make a difference & facilitate lifestyle changes of living a balanced lifestyle.