County Agents hold annual meeting, professional improvement conference

(06/16/22) NEW ROADS, La. — The Louisiana County Agricultural Agents Association made educational tours an integral part of its 76th annual meeting June 5 to 8 in New Roads.

LSU AgCenter horticulture agent Sara Shields, who also serves as the Louisiana Master Gardener state coordinator, said the tour to Mushroom Maggie’s Farm in St. Francisville was an eye-opening experience.

“I feel like we were introduced to so many aspects of mushroom production — new for many of us —from the substrate used in the grow bags, the inoculation process for starting the mushrooms and then growing them out,” she said. “I also found it interesting that growing the mushrooms requires strict control on the humidity and moisture levels in the growing rooms.”

Harvesting and marketing the mushrooms was also enlightening, given their direct marketing to restaurants in the area, Shields said.

LSU AgCenter agent Mariah Simoneaux, the incoming president, said the meeting consisted of program area-specific tours covering agronomy, horticulture and livestock; there were also educational sessions and updates from AgCenter administration.

“Presenters during the meeting’s educational sessions included LSU AgCenter faculty members Lynn Kennedy, Ashley Edwards, Christine Navarre, Kenneth Gravois and Heather Kirk-Ballard,” she said.

The two AgCenter employees honored at this year’s event were Randall Mallette and Tara Smith.

Mallette, an area agronomy agent in Natchitoches Parish, received the Achievement Award, which is presented to a member with less than 10 years of service.

Smith, the Central Region director and Sweet Potato Research Station coordinator, received the Distinguished Service Award.

“This award is presented to a member with 10 or more years of service and five consecutive years of membership,” Simoneaux said. “These honorees will also be recognized at the National Association of County Agriculture Agents annual meeting in July West Palm Beach, Florida.”

Winners of this year’s poster contest were AgCenter irrigation specialist Stacia Conger in extension education and plant pathologist Trey Price in applied research.

New officers installed at the meeting are Mariah Simoneaux, president; Randall Mallette, president-elect; Justin Dufour, vice president; Jessie Hoover, secretary; and Bobby Soileau, treasurer.

New board members representing the Southeast Region and campus are Mary Helen Ferguson, Sara Shields and Joe Willis. Representing the Southwest and Central regions are Jeremy Hebert, Jimmy Meaux and David Moseley. The Northern Region will be represented by Jason Holmes, Ashley Edwards and Bentley Fitzpatrick.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Simoneaux invited the membership to the 2023 annual meeting, which is scheduled to be held in southeast Louisiana.

Man talking to group outside.

LSU AgCenter horticulture agent Dan Devenport, right, listens to Cyrus Lester and Maggie Long, the owners of Mushroom Maggie’s Farm in St. Francisville during one of the tours as part of the Louisiana County Agricultural Agents Association’s 76th annual meeting held June 5 to 8. Photo by Mariah Simoneaux/LSU AgCenter

Mushrooms growing in grow bags.

Some of the mushrooms being grown at Mushroom Maggie’s Farm in St. Francisville. LSU AgCenter agents toured the farm as part of the Louisiana County Agricultural Agents Association’s 76th annual meeting held June 5 to 8. Photo by Mariah Simoneaux/LSU AgCenter

6/16/2022 7:53:49 PM
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