Monday, January 25

Lastrapes joins Louisiana 4-H Team

Southern University Ag Center area agent Edna Lastrapes joins the six-member team representing the Louisiana 4-H Youth Development program.
The team was selected to participate in the Building Partnerships for Youth’s Spotlighting Positive Youth Development program offered through a partnership between National 4-H Council and the University of Arizona. According to the Louisiana 4-H Club, the selection for the conference was very competitive with fewer than 15% of applicants being accepted.
“I expect to develop greater knowledge of how positive youth development can address the many issues facing youth in Louisiana with a focus on the issues faced by youth in the Southwest Center's service region,” said Lastrapes.
The effort will provide the team with an opportunity to learn ways to coordinate efforts of deliberate incorporation of positive youth development into programs and policies. According to Louisiana 4-H, the overall goal of the program is to produce a systems-level impact that supports youth throughout the state.
“With this knowledge, our team will design a plan to build greater capacity by forming a coalition and offering a youth development conference for youth and adult teams throughout the state, which will include students and adults who I am currently working with,” said Lastrapes who organizes the youth programs of the Southwest Center for Rural Initiatives’ 10-parish region.
“By creating a coalition and facilitating collaboration, the goal will be to engage youth in positive youth development experiences with caring adults yielding a better informed, healthy, and supported youth,” she said.
Members of Louisiana’s team are:

  •        Eve Franchebois, Collegiate 4-H
  •        David Free, Collegiate 4-H and Pastor, Memorial Baptist Church
  •        Lanette Hebert, Regional 4-H Coordinator, Louisiana 4-H, LSU AgCenter
  •        Edna Lastrapes, Area Agent, Youth Development, Southern University
  •        Trey Williams, Department of Social Services, State of Louisiana
  •        John Wyble, Louisiana CASA Association

The team will participate in a three-day kickoff conference held in Chevy Chase, Md., in February. The conference will be followed with monthly, Web-based conferences throughout the year.
The Southwest Center for Rural Initiatives is a satellite entity of the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center. Its mission is to promote socioeconomic development within a 10-parish region. For more information, please contact Lastrapes at (337) 943-2410.

Friday, January 22

West Feliciana high wins 3rd livestock quiz bowl

Five teams of future farmers participated in the 3rd Annual Livestock and Poultry Quiz Bowl last November at the SU Ag Center. The teams included FFA Chapters from Clinton, West Feliciana, Church Point, Northwest and North Central high schools.

Each team consisted of four players and an alternate who answered questions about livestock management, business, and terminology. The teams competed in several rounds, but Clinton and West Feliciana high schools dominated the championship round. West Feliciana was named this year's champion after three intensive rounds of questions. West Feliciana team was coached by Jason McCray a graduate of Southern University A&M College.

"The contest is growing every year, and we look forward to it every year,” said Renita Marshall, DVM, livestock show programs director.

West Feliciana High—1st place winner (pictured above)
Clinton High—2nd place winner

Thursday, January 21

Join Southern University, Ag Center in Haiti Relief

The January 12 earthquake in Haiti devastated that nation and has many people wondering what they can do to help. In the years since Katrina, the process for managing donations has become more efficient, effective, and secure.

Southern University and the Ag Center have had a long history with Partners of the Americas, and many of our faculty and staff have travelled with them on many development projects in El Salvador, Louisiana's southern partner. Retired animal scientist James McNitt has worked in Haiti to develop a rabbit project which now involves more than 700 rabbit farmers.

If you want to make a donation to the Haitian Disaster Relief with assurance that it will be used properly, McNitt suggests donating to Partners of the Americas

Southern University and A&M College professors Warner Anderson, Kristan Gordon and Ernst Pierre have started the Southern University Haiti Disaster Relief Drive. Items that are desperately needed by the Haitian children are:

Items needed are:
  • Book bags
  • Suitcases
  • Clothes (for warm weather)
  • Footwear
  • Sanitizer
  • Repellent
  • Baby formula
  • Thick blankets
  • Toilet paper
  • Female sanitary items
  • Baby wipes
  • Pampers
  • Soap
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Caps
All donations can be brought to Southern University’s Center for International Education, Room 1100 in T.H. Harris Hall, located on Elton C. Harris Drive. A receipt will be given to all individuals making financial donations for the Haiti Disaster Relief Drive.  Contributions are tax deductible. 

Through the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Louisiana has offered the U.S. State Department and FEMA resources to assist in the Haitian disaster response efforts, including more than 65,000 MREs and thousands of bottles of water being donated by Lipsey Mountain Springs Water.

Businesses that want to donate equipment and large-scale commodities to the Haiti response efforts can donate through:
  •  Department of State Global Partnership Initiative:
  • USAID:
Cash donations from individuals or the private sector can be made through the following websites:
  • Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund:
  • InterAction:
  • AidMatrix:
  • ALAN:
  • CIDI:
  • American Red Cross:
  • Salvation Army:
Visit FEMA for a listing of other legitimate organizations and methods of donating.

Those seeking information on colleagues, friends, and loved ones missing in Haiti will find help at for important public information from the United States Department of State or call 1-888-407-4747 (due to heavy volume, some callers may receive a recording).

For more information on Southern's Haiti Desaster Relief Drive, contact Anderson, Gordon or Pierre at (225) 771-2613.

For more information on the rabbit farm project, contact McNitt at (225) 771-2262 or email james_mcnitt(at)

Wednesday, January 20

Hard Earned Land: The Kimble Family Farm

By LaShounda Anderson, Ph.D.
Alcorn State University

COLFAX--When we say America was built from ancestor’s blood, sweat and tears, this statement cannot be truer than for the Kimble Family of Colfax, Louisiana. Colfax is a small city built by slaves and their descendants. Located in Central Louisiana’s Grant Parish, Colfax became a city in 1869. Before that, it was a 14,000 acre plantation called Calhoun’s landing.

Original land deeds prove that the 74-acre Kimble family farm was a part of the historic 14,000 acre plantation. Grandfather Kimble is believed to have purchased the farm in the 1930s from the Calhoun family.

Granddaughter Diana Kimble (pictured at right) retired from Texas Instruments in Dallas and returned home to Colfax. She had a new life mission: environmentally conserve her grandfather’s land while serving the community of Colfax.

She has established Kimble Organics on a small section of the farm. The organic garden is bordered by a beautiful bayou with large cypress trees that seems to hide it from the rest of the world. The garden is filled with herbs and vegetables including hibiscus, strawberries, blueberries and tomatoes. She is looking forward to preparing a hibiscus tea recipe she received during a visit to the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Baton Rouge, where she is currently participating in the Small Farmer Agricultural Leadership Institute.

Kimble composts and recycles materials on-site for use in the organic garden. She is currently composting branch and trunk shredding from trees just cleared off the land. Her unique method of recycling plastic pail tops is to place them at the base of plants to ward off plant diseases and harmful ground insects. She says organic gardening will provide a way to grow safe and affordable food for the Colfax community and for central Louisiana.

The desire for future generations to appreciate agriculture, environment and history runs deep in the Kimble family. The family farm is the future site of an African-American history, agriculture and cultural center. The family purchased a building from a local Catholic church for one dollar and plan to convert it into a community center. The center will have workshops on topics such as organic vegetable production and African-American history’s role in establishing worldwide agricultural practices. The center’s classroom will be named for a relative who had a calling to become a nun, but was unable to fulfill her calling because of health issues.

The Kimbles credit the Ag Center’s Cash for Conservation Workshop for sparking their interest in how to make alternative farm income through native grass and wildlife conservation and production. Since attending the workshop, the Kimbles are working to get their farm involved in available USDA-NRCS Conservation Reserve Programs and upcoming SUAREC Native Grass Producers Initiatives. With four generations involved in revitalizing the farm, it will be viewed as a priceless family treasure.

To get more information on USDA Conservation Programs, contact your local USDA-Farm Service Agency Office or USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service Office.

For information on the upcoming Southern University Agricultural Center and Research Center Native Grass Producer Incentives, contact Adell Brown, Ph.D.,  vice chancellor for finance and administration, at 225-771-2242. For information on the Leadership Institute, visit

Tuesday, January 19

67th Annual State Livestock Show starts March 11

School groups, families, meat buyers welcomed

Young farmers and ranchers from across the state are gearing up for the 67th Annual State Livestock and Poultry Show hosted by the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center, March 11-13.

They are grooming, weighing, and even breeding their champion animals in preparation for the two-day competition to be held at the Maurice A. Edmond Livestock Show Arena on Highway 61N in Alsen, LA. 

The show features animals that have been showcased or have won in parish competitions. During the two-day event, judges will name the state champions in various breeds of beef and dairy cattle, hogs, sheep, lamb, and goats. The all-time favorite mini-farm, featuring a variety of small farm animals, will open Friday, March 12, 9 am. Tour guides will discuss different animals, their food sources, farming and how agriculture affects everyone’s lives. The show will also have face painting, food, craft booths, and the Hall of Louisiana Agriculture, until 1 pm Friday for local school groups.

Winners will receive premiums, rosettes, ribbons, and silver platters. An awards presentation for exhibitors of champion market animals in the show will be held Saturday, March 13, at 8 am and will be immediately followed by the Junior Auction Sale at 10:30 am. Prize meats (beef, lamb, pork, and goat) are available for pre-sale now, as well as during the auction.  

Weigh in for animals and contestant check in begin March 11. School groups and families are invited to attend this free event.

To pre-order meat or register a group, visit

Vice Chancellor to serve as Louisiana Role Model, featured on WBRZ

The 4th Annual New Orleans Style Jazz Brunch, held December 12, 2009 honored nine outstanding Louisiana Role Models. Among the honorees was Gina E. Eubanks, Ph.D., SU Ag Center vice chancellor for extension, who was selected by Baton Rouge Chapter of The Links Incorporated to serve as Louisiana Role Models for one year effective December 2009. 

The Links Inc. is a national organization of accomplished, dedicated women who are active in the community. Links are role models, mentors, activists and volunteers who work toward the realization of making the name "Links" not only a chain of friendship, but also a chain of purposeful service.  

Eubanks’ dedication to mentoring is also found in her service to the Big Buddy Program. On January 4, WBRZ Channel 2 reporter Dana Hackett sat down with members of the Big Buddy program in Baton Rouge with an invitation for the public to get involved.  Eubanks and her Big Buddy service were featured on the Channel 2 morning show, 2une In, see the broadcast at  

Thursday, January 7

USDA's Hawkins visits SU Ag Center

The Southern University Ag Center welcomed Clarence W. Hawkins, the new Louisiana State Director of USDA Rural Development, to the campus on December 17.  

Hawkins told the crowd that his task "is to pick up the baton and carry on, to change the paradigm, and make the philosophy a reality.  Our task is to change the negative perception of rural communities and it’s just that simple.  I’m serious about accountability and I’m serious about service. Service is the rent I pay to stay here.  We must build co-operations and collaborations.  My hope is that Southern University continues to grow and to serve,” said Hawkins. 

The former Bastrop, Louisiana, mayor was appointed director by President Barack Obama in September 2009. In this capacity, Hawkins is responsible for the direction and delivery of the agency's rural development programs in Louisiana. 

SU Ag Center chancellor Leodrey Williams showed his support, saying, “we must do everything possible to give the people who are qualified and happy to live in rural parishes opportunities to thrive there.” The Southern University community including system president Kassie Freeman along with representatives from the system and community showed their support for Hawkins and USDA. 

Pictured are Southern University Ag Center specialists Eual Hall, Center for Rural and Small Business Development director Gloria London, USDA state director Clarence Hawkins, Southern University Alumni Affairs officer Robyn Merrick, and Ag Center chancellor Leodrey Williams. Photo by Christopher Rogers II.