More than 50 students attended the LSU AgCenter Southwest Regional Agricultural Career Day on Nov. 29 to learn about career options available to them after they finish their education.
The students from seven parishes heard about four agriculture career possibilities: agricultural engineering, renewable natural resources, agriculture education and extension, and environment and coastal management.
AgCenter regional 4-H coordinator Lanette Hebert said the offerings change every four years for the annual event that started five years ago. “A participant can come for four years and not see the same program,” she said.
In the engineering session, students heard AgCenter engineer Randy Price talk about the use of drones in agriculture, and representatives of the Sunshine Quality Solutions talked about the expanding technology field for farm equipment.
AgCenter and Louisiana Sea Grant fisheries agent Mark Shirley and Youth Wetlands Program extension associate Catherine Fox showed students baby alligators and demonstrated how a bone found in a fish’s brain can be used to determine the age of a fish.
AgCenter and Louisiana Sea Grant fisheries agent Thu Bui told students about careers in wildlife management and encouraged them to maintain good grades that will be needed to be accepted in a college. “GPA does matter,” she said.
She also said advanced degrees can result in higher pay.
Cade LeJeune, state FFA executive secretary and a former ag teacher, told students about his experience in the classroom. He said ag teachers can make more money than other teachers because it is a 12-month job, and some ag teachers’ pay exceeds $80,000. “There’s a lot of benefits to teaching ag in the state,” he said.
Cassandra Phillips, AgCenter 4-H agent in Lafayette Parish, said the job of an extension agent involves a wide range of responsibilities centered on helping the public. “It’s a very dynamic job,” she said.
Representatives of the LSU College of Agriculture talked about different areas of study available to ag majors at LSU, and they listed scholarship possibilities to help fund an agriculture-based education.
David Vincent, an ag teacher at Lafayette High School, brought two of his students, a freshman and a junior. He said the engineering session was of particular appeal to them. “They love that stuff with the technology and the drones,” he said.
Vincent said the ag career day makes a big impression on his students. “They get all that knowledge, and it’s going to push them to ag,” he said.
Student Christopher Broussard, of Vermilion Parish, said he already knows he wants to be a farmer, and he plans to go to college and major in business management. He said he was impressed with information about farm equipment technology presented by representatives of John Deere. “I work for a farmer, and I’m very interested in it,” he said.
Caleb LeBlanc, of Lafayette, said he was interested in the wildlife management presentation, so he’s leaning to a career in that field.
Morgan Pontiff, of Baldwin, said she was interested in the marsh restoration project Fox described. “I like how you could do something for change,” she said.
Bryce Miguez, of Centerville, said he’s interested in becoming an ag teacher because it involves “helping kids and leading them in the right direction.”
LSU AgCenter associate vice president and 4-H program leader Toby Lepley said the event opens the world of agriculture. Students are learning that agriculture even extends to food safety, handling and shipping.
“Events like this really help young people understand the complexity of agriculture and the need for young people to enter agriculture. It also helps them understand the diversity of agriculture,” he said.
AgCenter regional director Kurt Guidry said the event shows students other aspects of agriculture beyond growing crops.
“Hopefully, it sparks some to see where they fit in agriculture. We need to make sure we are fostering and developing that next group of people in the agriculture industry to have a safe and ample food supply here and worldwide,” Guidry said.