(12/01/21) CROWLEY, La. — Members of the Louisiana 4-H Food and Fitness Board visited the LSU AgCenter H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station Nov. 22 for their latest seminar to aid in their development of food and nutrition education and leadership skills.
The event included presentations by AgCenter rice geneticist Herry Utomo and biotechnologist Ida Wenefrida, who shared their work on a new high-protein, low-glycemic-index rice variety that is currently on the market. AgCenter dietitian Celeste Finney spoke about the importance of making healthful dietary choices.
The 4-H Food and Fitness Board consists of high school members from across the state who work with nutrition and fitness specialists to develop and implement healthy living programs related to food, nutrition, fitness and overall health.
“Our goal is to equip them with leadership skills so they can go back to their regions, their parishes and their communities and further food and nutrition education,” said Claire Zak, Food and Fitness Board administrator and coordinator of the Louisiana 4-H Healthy Living program.
“This would expose our leaders not only to a new rice variety, but also to the many careers that agriculture, food and nutrition involve,” Zak said about planning this event.
Finney said rice can be an important part of a balanced diet. She also discussed the many career paths available to students interested in dietetics.
The group of teens was treated to a cooking demonstration of the low-glycemic-index rice by Wenefrida and Hayden Dugas, research farm specialist.
“Rice is such a big part of what we eat down South,” said Hanna Roquemore, an 11th grader at Natchitoches Central High School. “It’s good to know what we can do to help with what we’re eating.”
Anna Claire Zerangue, a 12th grader at Lafayette’s St. Thomas More High School, said she learned what it takes to develop new rice cultivars.
“This rice is important not only to farmers, but the entire rice industry and the many people who went into researching it,” she said of the new rice variety. “It goes to show how when someone is so passionate about a project, how it can turn into something so amazing.”
LSU AgCenter rice geneticist Herry Utomo teaches the Louisiana 4-H Food and Fitness Board about the seven-year development process of low glycemic index rice at the H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station on Nov. 22. Derek Albert/LSU AgCenter
Members of the Louisiana 4-H Food and Fitness Board look on at a cooking demonstration of low glycemic index rice during a Nov. 22 seminar at the LSU AgCenter H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station. Demonstrating how to cook the new rice cultivar were AgCenter biotechnologist Ida Wenefrida, right, and farm specialist Hayden Dugas. Derek Albert/LSU AgCenter