Friday, September 12

SU Ag Center: Back-to-School Summit Encouraging to Youth

L-r: Chancellor Williams, Dr. Burke, Lt. Gen. Honore

Dr. Truth, gives keynote address to youth

Byron Starks interacts with youth after speaking

Isiah Marshall, St. Martinville Jr. High School

Mystique Dufort, Catahoula Elementary School

Shalyric Self, singer, songwriter
Baton Rouge, LA – On September 11, 2014, the Southern University Ag Center welcomed students, faculty and staff from schools in Acadia, Allen, Avoyelles, Evangeline, Lafayette, Pointe Coupee, St. Landry, St. Martin and Vermillion Parishes to its 14th Back-to-School Summit for 8th graders at the Blackham Coliseum in Lafayette.  The event themed “Healthy Actions Produce Positive Youth” had Danna Andrus "Dr. Truth" serving as Keynote speaker.  Special appearances featured Cadet Cody LeBlanc, ULL Army, for the Presentation of Colors, and speech by Lt. Gen. Russell Honore (Retired), United States Army, in commemoration of 911.  Speakers included Byron Starks, Coach and Mentor, and Den Hussey, Motivational Speaker/MC. Shalyric Self provided entertainment.  Also prominent were Senator Elbert Guillory, LA State District 24; and Chancellor Leodrey Williams, SU Ag Center, with welcome greetings. 

Isiah Marshall, 8th grader from St. Martinville Junior High said he was happy for the opportunity to be there, and his take home message was to develop self-confidence, have a goal and stick to it.

“My brother is now in high school, and he told me about it because he attended in 8th grade,” Isiah said. 

Mystique Dufort, 8th grader from Catahoula Elementary School said the main lesson she took home from the summit was to believe in herself and not get misled by peers.

The event was covered by the Lafayette Advertiser and can be accessed by following this link.

Nearly three thousand student attendees received informational brochures along with school supplies from various agencies while learning from motivational speakers and video presentations.  Topics of discussion included a wide range of healthy living tips, from sexual conduct to drug abuse. The goal of the program is to give young people health alternative choices in life. The program targets eighth-graders because they are on the edge of becoming teenagers. Also in attendance were participating agencies and programs from surrounding parishes to show their support.

This annual summit is organized by the Southwest Center for Rural Initiatives, the satellite arm of the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center, under the leadership of Dr. Wanda Burke who can be reached at 225-771-5184 or (337) 943-2410; via email at


Bridget Udoh
(225) 771-5714

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