Wednesday, August 20

SUBR Produces one of the 8 Youngest Black College Graduates You Should Know

Baton Rouge, LA - Polite Stewart, believed to be the youngest graduate in Southern University and A&M College’s history, after enrolling at the Baton Rouge, La., university at age 14, he graduated at 18 with a degree in physics. Read more at The Root.

###

Contact:
Bridget Udoh
(225) 771-5714

SU Ag Center Shares Produce Preservation Training Video on YouTube

SU Ag Center Trainers
Baton Rouge, LA- The following training video (Preserving Produce via Canning, Freezing and Drying) was produced through a USDA Capacity Building Grant project entitled: "Eradicating Food Deserts through the Development of School Gardens," by the Southern University Ag Center and the Louisiana Public Broadcasting. The purpose of this video is to teach families and children transferable skills to grow their own fresh produce. The Southern University Ag Center (Baton Rouge, LA) is located in a food desert, which means there is limited access to fresh produce. This video was developed with the partnership of Exxon Mobil YMCA. The video can be view on the web via the Center's website at www.suagcenter.com or through the YouTube Channel or by visiting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gyQtNRMlp1U

###

Contact:
Bridget Udoh
(225) 771-5714

Tuesday, August 19

SU Ag Center to Hold Annual Back-to-School Summit in Lafayette

Event flyer
Baton Rouge, LA - The Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center, through its Southwest Center for Rural Initiatives, will host its 14th Annual Back-to-School Summit on Thursday, September 11, 2014 from 8:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. at the Blackham Coliseum, Lafayette, LA.

Now in its 14th year, this 10-parish event is a collaborative effort between the SU Ag Center’s Southwest Center for Rural Initiatives and 40 non-profit organizations, state agencies, local municipal governments, and businesses.

The summit aims to accomplish the following goals and objectives: To provide a neutral platform for open dialogue among teens and service providers; To assist teens in making healthy life choices; To present current information regarding sexually transmitted diseases and their impact on teens; To promote abstinence and/or deter pre-marital sex; and To facilitate informed behavioral choices among teens about alcohol and tobacco use.

The summit is free and open to all 8th graders in Acadia, Allen, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Evangeline, Lafayette, Pointe Coupee, St. Landry, St. Martin, and Vermilion Parishes.

“The 2013 summit was, indeed, a success as reported by the 2,250 students and school personnel who attended from Avoyelles, St. Landry, Evangeline, Pointe Coupee, St. Martin, Lafayette and Vermilion Parishes. Our challenge for this year's summit is to, get 100% participation from (approximately 3000) 8th graders residing in all 10 parishes serviced by the Southwest Center.  The ultimate goal, as always is to educate and inform participants about the prevailing youth-related issues to the point that they are persuaded to make positive and healthy behavioral choices throughout their new school year,” said Dr. Wanda Burke, Director, Southwest Center.

###

Contact:
Bridget Udoh
(225) 771-5714

Thursday, August 14

You’re Invited to Healthy Corner Store Initiative Ribbon Cutting!!

Baton Rouge, LA - The East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority invites you to the Healthy Corner Store Initiative Ribbon Cutting!!
WHEN:                       August 19th @ 10:00AM
WHERE:                     Sewell’s Community Grocery, 469 Elmer Avenue
GUEST SPEAKER:    Mayor-President Kip Holden

 FREE GIVEAWAYS, FOOD and a FUN TWIST ON HEALTHY FOOD OPTIONS!  

 Come out and support neighborhood corner stores and see what the buzz is all about!

For further detail, contact Lyndsi Lambert at lyndsi.freshbeginnings@gmail.com

###

Contact:
Bridget Udoh
(225) 771-5714

Wednesday, August 13

USDA Seeks Applications for Grants to Increase Economic Opportunity and Improve the Quality of Life in Rural Areas

WASHINGTON, Aug. 13, 2014 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is seeking applications for grants that will be awarded to organizations to provide critical financial and technical assistance to recipients to develop and strengthen their capacity to carry out housing, community facilities and community and economic development projects.

"Many rural nonprofits often need capital and technical assistance to carry out their missions," Vilsack said. "These grants will provide both of these components through local and regional organizations that are experts at delivering such services."

USDA is making nearly $6 million available to qualified organizations under the Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI).

Recipients must be non-profit organizations, low-income rural communities, or federally recognized tribes. Intermediary organizations are required to provide matching funds at least equal to the RCDI grant. The grants do not go directly to business recipients but rather through qualified intermediaries.

The deadline for submitting RCDI applications is November 12, 2014. Applications must be submitted to the USDA Rural Development state office where the applicant's headquarters are located. More information about the program and how to apply is available on page 47427 of the August 13, 2014 Federal Register.

Here is an example of how the RCDI program is helping rural communities. The Western Maine Community Action Program (WMCAP) has received several RCDI grants in recent years to help low-and very-low-income seniors maintain their independence and remain in their homes through the Keeping Seniors Home Program. Started in 2004, this program has served nearly 3,000 low-income senior homeowners in Maine. WMCAP is also working on a regional job creation plan to train energy auditors, private contractors, and other community partners to provide additional support services to Maine's elderly rural citizens.
President Obama's historic investments in rural America have made our rural communities stronger. Under his leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities.

###

Contact: Weldon Freeman (202) 690-1384

Monday, August 4

SU Alumnus, Tyra Davis Needs Your Vote to Win America’s Favorite Veterinarian

Baton Rouge, LA - Dr. Tyra Davis-Brown needs your vote to win the 2014 America’s Favorite Veterinarian. America's Favorite Veterinarian contest strives to recognize the work of veterinarians from all industries. Veterinarians keep our pets healthy.  Davis is a 1999 Graduate of SU College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences in Animal Science and a 2003 graduate of Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine.

Log on to http://www.americasfavoriteveterinarian.org/ to VOTE for DR. DAVIS today!!! Voters are allowed one vote daily until August 30, 2014

America’s Favorite Veterinarian is a nationwide contest created by the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) to identify and celebrate extraordinary veterinary professionals practicing in all areas of veterinary medicine from private practice to public health, agriculture to academia. This contest honors and recognizes those entrusted to preserve and protect the health and well-being of animals and to celebrate the special relationships pet owners share with their veterinarians.

Dr. Davis grew up in a rural south Louisiana town of New Iberia, and earned a scholarship to Southern University in Animal Science, and was accepted into the university’s Honors College.  For the first time in her life, she considered a career in veterinary medicine despite her dream of becoming a physician or researcher.
After attending a summer internship at the University of Missouri and visiting Tuskegee University, Davis was convinced that she wanted to become a Veterinarian. After graduating she worked briefly with USDA/ARS and it solidified her desire to work with large animals, leading her to veterinary school in the fall of 1999.

She undertook large animal and equine research at MIZZOU and the USDA/Agricultural Research Service, but was steered by fate to the mixed animal practice focus.  Upon graduating from Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine, she landed a job with Dale Peyroux, in Hammond, La, and commends Peyroux for taking her under his wing and helping her “to become the veterinarian she is today.”

“My journey has taught me that sometimes in order to find our true self we must step outside what seems to be comfortable and accept possible life changing opportunities without reservation. Accepting that scholarship to Southern was one of the best decisions I have made in my life,” Davis said.

"Dr. Davis should be America's Favorite Vet because of her work ethic, kindness, and commitment to animal care. At Hammond Animal Hospital Dr. Davis and her staff provide their patients with affordable and top notch care. Dr. Davis makes every patient feel comfortable and is very detailed in explaining the best options for my pet. Not only is Dr. Davis a community hero she is an advocate for Pet Education and Wellness. I have witnessed Dr. Davis carpool pets for Senior citizens in the community who do not have the transportation to make important visits to the clinic. Dr. Davis also offers house services for her clients who are unable to make scheduled appointments due to irregular circumstances. I have the upmost respect for Dr. Davis and she should be chosen as America's Favorite Vet."--Teirsen.

For further detail, contact Renita W. Marshall, DVM/Associate Professor, Animal Science

###

Contact:
Bridget Udoh
(225) 771-5714

Friday, August 1

SU Ag Center: Dr. Abdollahi Presents at 2014 Biomass Conference

Dr. Abdollahi presents poster session

Assembly of 2014 Biomass Conference Participants
Baton Rouge, LA - Dr. Kamran Abdollahi, professor and program leader, urban forestry at Southern University Ag Center was selected to present a poster in a session at the 2014 Biomass Conference. The conference themed, Biomass 2014: Growing the Future Bioeconomy, took place July 29-30 at the Washington, D.C. Convention Center, with more than 3,000 participants. 

Dr. Abdollahi can be reached at 225-771-6291 or kamrana664@cs.com


###

Contact:
Bridget Udoh
(225) 771-5714

SU Ag Center to Host School Garden Workshop in Mansura

Baton Rouge, LA - The Southern University Ag Center will host a School Garden Workshop at the Mansura Ag Center in Avoyelles Parish on Monday August 4th, from 9am-11am. Teachers, parents and volunteers associated with the gardens funded by The Rapides Foundation are invited to attend. The workshop will cover a broad range of topics including the importance of school gardens, basic gardening skills as well as hands-on activities with seeds and trays.
De’Shoin York, extension specialist, Stephanie Elwood, extension associate, Camellia Brown, nutrition educator, and Melody Coco, nutrition education assistant, from the SU and LSU Ag Centers will coordinate events for the workshop.

For further detail, please call Stephanie Elwood at 225-771-2134; for directions to the workshop call Camellia Brown at 318-964-2249

###

Contact:
Bridget Udoh
(225) 771-5714

Wednesday, July 9

SU Ag Center to Offer Healthy Living Classes for Teens in Opelousas


Baton Rouge, LA - Young people ages 10 to 18 are invited to learn how to take good care of themselves while having a good time during this year’s Healthy Living Workshop hosted by the Southwest Center for Rural Initiatives in Opelousas.

When: July 16 – 30, 2014
Time: 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. on weekdays
Where: 1209 Diesi St., in Opelousas

Crystal St. Junious with the Center said the classes are free.  However, parents will need to drop off and pick up their children each day at the Southwest Center for Rural Initiatives.

Parents will need to register their children no later than 5 p.m. on Friday, July 11.

St. Junious said the program acknowledges that the teen years are a period of intense physical, emotional, mental and intellectual growth.

“It is also a time when your child develops habits that can last a lifetime. You can help your teenager reach optimal growth and development by instilling lifestyle habits that support a healthy and happy body,” St. Junious said.

She said the program will incorporate exercise, making healthy food choices, skin care and lessons on how to deal with and manage stress.

“In addition, multi-platinum recording artist Cupid and professional fitness instructor Kasey Barnes Binns will teach fitness with a twist of dance to show how much fun healthy living can be,” St. Junious said.

For more information, call the center at 337-943-2410 or visit the Daily World online.

The Southwest Center for Rural Initiatives is a satellite unit of the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center.  Located in Opelousas, the Center serves a 10- parish region of Southwest Louisiana.

###

Contact:
Bridget Udoh
(225) 771-5714

Wednesday, July 2

41st Annual Bayou Classic: 4 for 41 Tickets - Only in July!

Baton Rouge, LA – Get 4 Bayou Classic Tickets for Only $41. Hurry and get your family's tickets for the Bayou Classic! This special deal commemorates the Bayou Classic's 41st anniversary, and is perfect for you and your family. Enjoy family friendly events like the Bayou Classic Thanksgiving Day Parade, Battle of the Bands & Greek Show, the game itself, Fan Festival and more!

Visit Ticketmaster HERE to purchase your tickets today! Or you can visit the following locations to purchase tickets:
·        New Orleans Arena Box Office (1501 Girod Street, New Orleans)
·        The Grambling State University Ticket Office
·        The Southern University Ticket Office 
 The code for this ticket promotion is: 4FOR41


This offer is valid ONLY July 1-31, 2014. Certain rules and restrictions may apply.

###

Contact:
Bridget Udoh
(225) 771-5714

Monday, June 23

USDA Provides Centralized Resource for Beginning Farmers

Baton Rouge, La - Today, Monday, June 23rd, Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden announced a new resource:  www.USDA.gov/newfarmers, a website that provides centralized, one-stop shopping for beginning farmers and ranchers to explore the variety of USDA initiatives designed to help them succeed.  USDA's www.usda.gov/newfarmers has in depth information for new farmers and ranchers, including: how to increase access to land and capital; build new market opportunities; participate in conservation opportunities; selecting and using the right risk management tools; and, access USDA education and technical support programs.  Cooperative Extension links are included among the Research, Technical Assistance, and Education resources. The website will also features instructive case studies about beginning farmers who have successfully utilized USDA resources to start or expand their business operations.


###

Contact:
Bridget Udoh
(225) 771-5714

Thursday, June 19

SU Ag Center Exposition Event Stimulates Youth in the Sciences

L-r: Eubanks, Burke, Grant Henry, Illustrated Talk, Ervin, Chancellor Williams
L-r: Senior Quiz Bowl Team - John Zacharie, Jr.; Jessica Espree; Ronjacoby Bell; and Tyler Brown
L-r front row: Jr. Quiz Bowl Champs-Bri Sensley, Laken Chambers, Landon Chambers
L-r: Eubanks, Burke, Isaiah Bonner, 2nd place winner, Junior division, Illustrated Talk, Lee, Chancellor Williams


L-r: Eubanks, Burke, Miracle Styles, 1st place winner, 9-12 age category, Public Speaking, Sims, Chancellor Williams
Baton Rouge, LA – The Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center concluded its 33rd Annual Youth and Family Exposition on Saturday, June 14 after three days of inspirational learning and fun activities. The event brought more than 300 youth from across the state to engage in contests, hands-on experiential learning, seminars and friendly interaction on campus. Sarah Sims, extension aide in Madison Parish brought the most (30) participants and took home three first place wins in public speaking. Miracle Styles, placed 1st in Public Speaking in the 9-12 Age Category; Kanessia Crothers won first place in the 13-15 Age Category; and Consuela Guice, came in first in the 9-12 Age Category in the Illustrated Talk contest.

Other competitions and top winners included Public Speaking, Illustrated Talks and Quiz Bowl.  In the 9-12 age group of Public Speaking, Miracle Styles from Madison Parish placed 1st, and Joseph Pickney, St. Landry Parish came in 2nd under the leadership of Extension agents Sarah Sims and Aubrey Williams respectively.

Among the 13-15 age category contenders, Kanessia Crothers of Madison Parish placed 1st; Kataja Epting, East / West Carroll Parish took 2nd place; and Candace Noel of St. Martin Parish, was 3rd under the supervision of Sarah Sims, Carolyn Robinson and respectively. 

The Illustrated Talk competition consisted of three age groups. In the 9-12 Age Category; Consuela Guice, Madison Parish won 1st place; 2nd Place- Isaiah Bonner, Caddo Parish; and 3rd Place- Caylon & Taylon Celestine, St. Martin Parish. Extension agents Sarah Sims, Patricia Lee and Wilbert Harris brought the youth.

In the 13-15 Age Category: 1st Place- Chardai Burks & Taylor Threats of West Carroll Parish; 2nd Place – Quellique Serf of East Baton Rouge Parish; and 3rd Place – Seth Portiere & Greg Randle of St. Martin Parish; under the guidance of Carolyn Robinson, Terrence Marshall, and Wilbert Harris.

In the 16 -18 Age Category, Grant Henry of Bossier Parish won 1st place. Mentored by Katherine Ervin, Henry has won Illustrated Talk four years in a row.

The Quiz Bowl contests produced two winning teams. In the junior category, Calcasieu came in 1st, Caddo, 2nd and St. Landry 3rd. On the senior team, Bossier winners were 1st, East/West Carroll, 2nd and St. Landry 3rd. Extension agents in these areas are Carol Sensley, Carolyn Robinson and Ursula Ransburg.

Concurrent breakout sessions included the secrets of soils; healthy youth, healthy future; discovering your niche in agriculture; urban greening and sustainability; turning gas into water: the art of science; tobacco-free zone: youth living healthier lives, and fun with numbers. 

The event attracted broad media coverage. The three major television news networks in Baton Rouge carried the event. WVLA, NBC channel 33 covered the expo in the evening news on the eve of the full event. WAFB channel 9 aired the show under the news items “SU Ag Center Hosting Youth Expo”; and WBRZ News 2 Louisiana at 5 PM - WBRZ-TV 06/13/2014 “SU gives kids an appreciation for math, science.”
Dr. Wanda Burke, Youth Development Specialist organizes this event and can be reached at 225-771-2242.
###

Contact:
Bridget Udoh
(225) 771-5714

SU Ag Center: Southwest Center Shows Opelousas Youth How to Make Biofuel

Researcher Antonio Harris 
Baton Rouge, LA – The Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center continues to grow in scope beyond agriculture and Baton Rouge to the Southwest Center for Rural Initiative. This summer, youth in St. Landry Parish are learning about making biofuels from SU Ag Center staff.  On June 17, 2014 the Daily World newspaper published an article entitled “From grease to green energy, kids learn science hands-on,” in which Mr. Antonio Harris, research associate and instructor, shows youth ways to turn grease into fuel from restaurant grease.

The full article is available online at the Daily World website.

###

Contact:
Bridget Udoh
(225) 771-5714

Friday, June 13

SU Ag Center Youth Expo Picks up Steam

First time attendee, Garrinecia Singleton, EBR

Youth rally
Baton Rouge, LA – Youth, families, volunteers and Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center faculty and staff gathered in A.O. Williams Hall on June 12 for an activity-filled weekend. Upon arrival, participants completed registration and kicked off the event with a friendly basketball game. This morning, in the midst of pouring rain, the youth rally ushered in the activities. Youth competitions in public speaking and illustrated talks are on-going as well as educational seminars and workshops.  The event will culminate on tomorrow at noon with quiz bowl competitions, awards presentation and recognitions.

Parishes across the state are represented from as far north as Morehouse and locally from East Baton Rouge.  First time attendee, Garrinecia Singleton from Scotlandville Magnet High School expressed her excitement about the Expo.

“I like science and astronomy; I want to learn more so as to decide what to study in college,” Singleton said.

This year’s Expo themed "Full STEAM Ahead," Preparing Youth for the Pathway to Success, will feature exhibits, entertainment, activities, fun and exciting workshops and demonstrations for the whole family. Activates will focus on STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture, and Mathematics.

For additional information, contact Dr. Wanda Burke at 225/771/2242.  

###

Contact:        
Bridget Udoh
(225) 771-5714

bridget_udoh@suagcenter.com

Thursday, June 12

Chancellor Williams Recognized in Centennial Celebration of Cooperative Extension

Chancellor Williams
Baton Rouge, LA – Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center’s Chancellor Williams was featured in the Times-Picayune on June 11, 2014 in an article entitled “Southern University official has been with Cooperative Extension for 50 years.” 

As the Cooperative Extension service celebrates 100 years, the LSU Agricultural Center is recognizing Leodrey Williams, who currently works at Southern University, previously at LSU and served at the national level in Washington, DC.

Dr. Williams has been working for the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service, for 50 years, half the time the Cooperative Extension has been in existence, according to a news release from the LSU Agricultural Center.

In 1914, the passage of the Smith-Lever Act, created a partnership between agricultural colleges and the United States Department of Agriculture in efforts to support agricultural extension work.

Extension work in Louisiana had only taken place through LSU until 1971 when Southern University created its own extension office.

Williams was hired as an agriculture specialist, five years later, he went to LSU and served as associate state agent, director of Equal Employment Opportunity and associate professor in the Department of Extension and International Education, positions he held for four years. In 1980, he became extension director at Southern University. Soon after, Williams would move to Washington DC where he served as the national director of the Cooperative Extension Service, making him responsible for funding extension programs at 104 land-grant universities around the country.

Williams returned to SU and took on his previous role as extension director in 1995. Then, in 2001 Williams was asked to head the newly-formed Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center.

"No matter what you do, whether it's in community development, if it's in small business development, it's enhancing the socioeconomic quality of life for people," Williams said. "You have more people now than you had 100 years ago. As long as there are people with problems, there will be a need for extension service."

For the past 50 years, Dr. Leodrey Williams has been working with SU and LSU in Baton Rouge, as well as Washington DC at the national level, in Cooperative Extension service.

The full article is available at NOLA.com

###

Contact:
Bridget Udoh
(225) 771-5714

Southern University Ag Center’s Bioenergy Research Gathers Momentum

L-r: Rubert Ward, Reginald Miles, Martin Johnson, Kamran Abdollahi, Morgan Watson, Willie Rawls and Glenn E. Ford 
Baton Rouge, LA – The Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center continues to develop in the field of biomass and bioenergy. Dr. Kamran Abdollahi, research scientist and Urban Forestry Program Leader, is building a collaborative network to expand the reach of study in the field of bioenergy.  On June 10, 2014 Abdollahi invited a team of experts to the SU Ag Center for discussions on ways to develop a strategy for enhancing the research in bioenergy production. The team consisted of five experts in diverse fields germane to bioenergy. Rubert Ward serves as President of JL Management Solutions LLC; Reginald Miles, Vice President, Phalanx Construction LLC; Martin Johnson, President, GreenSolar Louisiana; Morgan Watson, President, MEL Inc., and Glenn E. Ford, Chairman, GreenSolar Louisiana.

As greenhouse gases produced by burning fossil fuels are contributing to the problem of global warming, studies are underway at Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center to discover various types of biomass that can be used to create fuel in more efficient ways. Biomass is the source of bioenergy. The collaboration between the SU Ag Center scientists and the industry experts will support development of a cutting edge product that will be environmentally safe and cost effective for future generations. On a global scope, bioenergy is the energy source of the future.

One of the team members, Rubert Ward has more than 35 years of experience managing domestic and international operations, including extensive experience in the waste tire recycling and energy industries.  As Plant Manager, he managed the successful start-up of a $400-million 565 Mw combined cycle facility and a $100-million 35 Mw biomass co-generation facility.  Mr. Ward has also held senior executive positions with CMS Energy Corporation with investments and operations in 18 countries.  He has had financial responsibility for $200 million of assets generation, including Jamaica Private Power Company (Kingston, Jamaica), eight hydroelectric plants and two wind power plants.

For additional information, contact Kamran Abdollahi at 225-771-2242,

###

Contact:
Bridget Udoh
(225) 771-5714

Wednesday, June 11

SU Ag Center’s Annual Youth and Family Exposition Starts June 12

Flyer
Baton Rouge, LA – The Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center will hold its annual Family and Youth Exposition from June 12-14, starting at 11:00 am.  The event will assemble youth in Baton Rouge for a two-day educational, fun-filled experience. The 2014 event will also bring together, SU Ag Center specialists, agents, staff, faculty and volunteers from various parishes for a memorable program with the youth.

This year’s Expo themed "Full STEAM Ahead," Preparing Youth for the Pathway to Success, will feature exhibits, entertainment, activities, fun and exciting workshops and demonstrations for the whole family. Activates will focus on STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture, and Mathematics.

Youth will arrive in Baton Rouge on Thursday, tomorrow, get acquainted and enjoy fun activities on the grounds of the Southern University Ag Center in A.O. Williams Hall. They will participate in educational seminars, workshops, illustrated talk, motivational and public speaking on Friday. The event will culminate on Saturday morning with quiz bowl competitions, awards presentation and recognitions.

For additional information, contact Dr. Wanda Burke at 225/771/2242.  

###

Contact:        
Bridget Udoh
(225) 771-5714

bridget_udoh@suagcenter.com

Friday, June 6

USDA StrikeForce to Help Grow Rural Economies in Louisiana

Baton Rouge, LA - USDA is focused on trying to address the challenge of persistent poverty rural areas.  While poverty is a rural, suburban and urban challenge, the reality is that nearly 85 percent of America's persistent poverty counties are in rural areas. USDA's StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity Initiative is part of our commitment to growing economies, increasing investments and creating opportunities in poverty-stricken rural communities. StrikeForce was officially launched in 2010 as a pilot project in persistent poverty areas in rural Arkansas, Georgia and Mississippi.

In 2012, StrikeForce efforts expanded into persistent poverty counties in Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. In 2013, Secretary Vilsack announced new efforts to bring the StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity to Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Virginia. In 2014, Strike Force efforts expanded into Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee, and West Virginia.
There are now over 700 persistent poverty counties (PDF, 2.2MB), parishes, boroughs, Colonies and tribal reservations in twenty states receiving StrikeForce attention.
Since its inception, StrikeForce has formed over 400 community based partnerships and supported 80,300 projects and opportunities to strengthen America's rural economy.
Learn more about how StrikeForce is encouraging growth and creating opportunity (PDF, 270KB) |Spanish (PDF, 161KB), and how you can get involved.

For full detail, visit USDA StrikeForce at: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?navid=STRIKE_FORCE
###

Contact:
Bridget Udoh
(225) 771-5714

Thursday, June 5

SU student, faculty, alumni group touring Europe

Baton Rouge, LA - Jason Matthews’ first foray into a foreign country was in 2003 when he had to withdraw as a student from Southern University to be deployed to Iraq where  he was part of the U.S. military’s Operation Iraqi Freedom.

This time he is part of a 14-person group of Southern University students, faculty and alumni on a 9-day study abroad program. For Matthews and others, the trip to is a dream come true.

The tour is designed to be a learning experience for students and faculty, said leader Dr. Shenika Jones, associate professor of criminal justice.

“I hope this inaugural trip generates interest within the SU community so that more of us begin to see the value in international experiences,” Jones said. “After all, that is a key part of Southern's mission.”

“As an instructor, I believe that most learning takes place outside of the classroom. I try to create a value-free space for my students, one in which they can experience world learning without boundaries,” Jones said. “International experiences provide an unchartered platform for growth where I become a facilitator as opposed to a professor.”

The trip is a combination of efforts by the Dr. Carlos Thomas, head of the Division of Information Technology Office and the Department of criminal justice. They used Education First College Study Tours to facilitate the trip, which includes stops in London, Paris and Amsterdam.
Alberta Robertson, an academic advisor to freshmen students, said the trip will provide her with clearer outlook on cultures that she can share with her students.
“For the students who go on this trip, it will be a major addition to their resumes,” said Robertson who once worked in a company’s human resources office. “International study and travel like this is makes a big statement when businesses are looking at résumés.”
Gabrielle Lewis, a criminal justice major, said she expects to “gain a new perspective of the world and have the opportunity to embrace other cultures. I want to have a new frame of reference and understanding of the world from a rewarding cultural exposure.”
The senior from Winnsboro, La., said just coming to Southern was “a big step for someone from a small town of 1,500 people,” adding that the trip abroad “will be life changing.”
“College is about learning and growing,” she said, “and at Southern University I have indeed done both. My university has done more than enough to prepare me for this trip.”
Thomas, who played a pivotal role in setting up the trip at a reduced cost with Education First College Study Tours, said he saw the opportunity for traveling “as something Southern can continue to do for its students,” adding that he traveled overseas while in high school and “it changed my view of the world and what I wanted to do with my life.”
This trip was a year in the planning and execution, with Dr. Jones also assuming a leadership role, Thomas said.
Southern alum Shekeitra Lockhart-Matthews said while she has done extensive travel abroad, she viewed the three stops on this trip as “surreal.”
Lockhart-Matthews, the wife of Jason Matthews, said the stop at Oxford University and world-renowned science museums will help her “learn the culture and educational practices of exemplary institutions of higher learning.”
Jones said the students will also gain a better knowledge of African culture. “Many are unaware of the African influence on the European continent but this experience is especially geared towards highlighting that influence and illustrating the African impact on culture, fashion, architecture and music.”

Additionally, she said, “our participants will be afforded the opportunity to interact with travelers from California and Texas, as we will be joined by groups from Las Positas College (California) and Sam Houston State University.  
This will be the first of several such trips.  Jones said planning is underway for 10-day excursion to Italy, Greece and the Hellenic Islands in 2015.
(To follow the group during this year's tour or for more information on next year's tour, visit the following links: https://twitter.com/SUtravelsAbroad or https://www.facebook.com/SouthernUniversityTravelsAbroad.)
For full details, contact Edward Pratt or Erin Fulbright, Southern University Media Relations at (225) 771-4545 or (225) 771-3907.

###

Contact:
Bridget Udoh
(225) 771-5714

SU Ag Center Welcomes Participants to Ag Food and Science Leadership Academy

Ag Leadership Academy participants convene in Baton Rouge for orientation
Baton Rouge, LA – The Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center received summer participants in The Academy for the Academic Enhancement of High School Students in the Food and Agricultural Sciences on June 1, 2014. The Ag Leadership Academy is a summer program consisting of two Phases.  This summer, 20 students have returned to complete Phase II of the program under the direction of Zanetta Augustine, research associate and Dawn Mellion-Patin, Specialist, Agriculture.

Phase II of the program comprises of an orientation for participants at the SU Ag Center in the first week, followed by hands-on work experience in a professional setting near their home for the remaining seven weeks. Students will be exposed to careers in Agriculture, Family and Consumer Sciences along with other professions.

For more information, please call Zanetta Augustine at 225-771-2242.

###

Contact:
Bridget Udoh
(225) 771-5714

SU Ag Center set for free Business Development Training in Natchitoches

Workshop announcement
Baton Rouge, LA – The Center for Rural and Small Business Development at the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center will hold a free business development training, entitled “Starting and Maximizing Your Business,” from 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 12, 2014 at Abundant Life International, 1855 Highway 6 East, Natchitoches, LA 71457. Registration will begin at 5:30 p.m.

To register, please call 318-419-0802 or to receive additional information about the training, contact Eual Hall, LaKeeshia Giddens or Sonja Butler at 225.771.2242.

###

Contact:
Bridget Udoh
(225) 771-5714

Wednesday, June 4

SU Ag Center’s Second Chance 2 Recovery Program Reunites Inmates with Families

Baton Rouge, LA – The Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center, through its Second Chance 2 Recovery program brought inmates at East Baton Rouge Parish Prison and their families together to enjoy a relaxing day on June 3, 2014 as part of the prison's "One Day With Kids" event.
"It's a very special feeling, I cherish the moment being with them and just spending time with them," Tameka Johnson said as she kissed her son on the cheek.

Prison officials say the ladies earned the special extended visits by graduating Southern University Agriculture Center's "Second Chance 2 Recovery" program.
The Second Chance 2 Recovery program, which teaches inmates job and parenting skills gave the inmates eight hours to visit with their children in a carnival setting, motivating them to do better when they return to society.
It was fun for children and mothers to play and eat together, giving them a chance to reconnect and make memories they can hold on to forever.
The event was featured by Fox 44 news and is available online under the heading “Female inmates enjoy special day with their kids.” The video clip is available at: http://www.fox44.com/news/female-inmates-enjoy-special-day-their-kids

For more information about this program contact, Tiffany Franklin at 225-771-2775 or tiffany_franklin@suagcenter.com

###

Contact:
Bridget Udoh
(225) 771-5714

Friday, May 30

SU Ag Center Counts Down to Annual Youth and Family Exposition

Expo flyer
Baton Rouge, LA – In just a couple of weeks, the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center will hold its annual Family and Youth Exposition. From June 12-14, the event, which culminates the past year’s youth development program activities statewide, will bring youth together for a two-day educational, fun-filled experience. The 2014 event will assemble SU Ag Center specialists, agents, and researchers from various parishes for a memorable program with the youth.

This year’s Expo themed "Full STEAM Ahead," Preparing Youth for the Pathway to Success, will feature exhibits, entertainment, activities, fun and exciting workshops and demonstrations for the whole family. Activates will focus on STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture, and Mathematics.

Youth will arrive in Baton Rouge on Thursday, June 12, get acquainted and enjoy fun activities on the grounds of the Southern University Ag Center in A.O. Williams Hall. They will participate in educational seminars, workshops, illustrated talk, motivational and public speaking on Friday. The event will culminate on Saturday morning with quiz bowl competitions, awards presentation and recognition.

For additional information, contact Dr. Wanda Burke at 225/771/2242.  

###

Contact:        
Bridget Udoh
(225) 771-5714
bridget_udoh@suagcenter.com

Wednesday, May 28

SU Ag Center’s Garden Project Teaches More Than Plants

Left, Stephanie Elwood, SU Ag Center, oversees Washington Career and Technical Education Center students as they plant flowers along Washington’s Main Street. Left-right: Logan Billeaudeau, Darren Thomas, Colby Duplechain and Dustin Ellis. / Freddie Herpin, Daily World
Baton Rouge, LA - Southern University Ag Center is collaborating with the Washington School Board and Washington Career & Technical Education Center on a Joint garden project to beautify the town of Washington in Louisiana. Now, 14 large, square cypress planters, each about four feet wide, three feet tall, and filled with flowering plants and shrubs, line Washington’s main business district. The Washington Career and Technical Education Center students spent the week of May 20, 2014 filling the planters with soil and scores of plants they had grown themselves as part of the beautification effort.
 “By summer, these will be popping,” said Stephanie Elwood, an extension associate with Southern University’s Agricultural Research and Extension Center.
 “We have roses, gardenias, witch hazel and many others,” Elwood said.
Although the historic town, which depends on tourism, will benefit, WCTEC pro-start teacher Candy Palumbo said it is benefiting the school and its students as well. She said many of the businesses in town don’t even know WCTEC exists.
“This is a chance to engage the business community and show them we are willing to work with the town,” Palumbo said. “This will help them realize there is a local treasure in their backyard they may not be aware of.”
The project is the brainchild of Elwood, who does most of her teaching in Baton Rouge. But she and her husband have a farm in the nearby Plaisance community.
“I have ties to this community and wanted to make it look nice,” said Elwood, who headed up an eight-week gardening program at WCTEC this past semester.
Part of that program involved converting an unused storage area “into a lovely greenhouse.”
Palumbo said the greenhouse was initially intended to grow herbs and vegetables for the school’s culinary program, but adding flowers was just a natural extension. Keeping up the planters will also become a part of that program.
The project also has generated unexpected side benefits — working in the garden is relaxing and helps relieve stress for many of the students; improving grades and self-esteem in some.
Elwood said that is something she has noticed in her own teaching career.
“I’ve taught hundreds of kids. They often complain and object, but I’ve yet to come across a kid who puts his hands into soil and doesn’t like it,” Elwood said.
The students are marketing the products of the greenhouse at the local farmers market and other venues.
“They are learning customer-service skills that will be of value when they transition from school to work,” Palumbo said.
Elwood praised Mayor Joseph Pitre and a host of volunteers and others who helped make the project possible.
Pitre had a limited budget for beautification but agreed to give the program a try; area businessman Pat Fontenot donated the aged cypress that Washington Alderman Krandall Pijou and school board employee Jack Caine assembled with the help of the students; the St. Landry Parish Waste Disposal District donated the soil.
“This is a real coalition,” agreed Palumbo. “Everyone has taken a small part. Now all the puzzle pieces are coming together.”
The full story is available on the Daily World site under the heading “Students Beautify Downtown Washington.”
###

Contact:
Bridget Udoh
(225) 771-5714