Monday, October 31

15-Year-Old NASA Blueberry Alyssa Carson Stops by St. Helena College & Career Academy

Standing from left are, St. Helena College & Career Academy Principal Reginald Douglas, NASA Blueberry Alyssa Carson, Science Teacher Prasanna Epuri and SU Ag Center Assistant Area Agent Nicolette Gordon.

Baton Rouge, LA – In honor of 4-H National Youth Science Day, students at the St. Helena College & Career Academy received a surprise visit from 15-year-old NASA Blueberry Alyssa Carson on Oct. 10th

Alyssa, who has dreamed of becoming an astronaut since the age of three, had some very encouraging words for the academy’s 8th, 9th and 10th graders.  Carson, who is an active NASA Blueberry shared with youth that she spends a substantial amount of time researching various topics on Mars.  Her main goal is to be one of the youngest astronauts to go on a short mission to Mars, by the year 2020.  As with many goals, preparation is the key ingredient and Alyssa’s long list of impressive accomplishments puts her right on target.

Carson also advised youth interested in aerospace to begin training at NASA Space Camps.  These camps provide simulated missions, engineer challenges, and sharpen leadership skills. She stated that she has already completed Space Camp Turkey, Space Camp Canada and will soon be one of the first to complete all NASA Space Camps in the world.  Students were in awe, as Carson demonstrated with a basketball and string how far Earth is from Mars.  The best analogy that Carson gave, was to think about 300 football fields.  Certainly, that raised many questions and peaked a lot of interest throughout the auditorium.

There are so many technological advances taking place daily in space, and she concluded by reminding all youth that they are the “Mars Generation.”  
Article written by Nicolette Gordon, SU Ag Center Assistant Area Agent.

Wednesday, October 19

Calling for USDA/1890 National Scholarship Application

Baton Rouge, LA – The Southern University A&M College System is inviting students to apply for the USDA/1890 National Scholars Program participation. The USDA/1890 National Scholars Program is a major effort of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the nineteen 1890 Historically Black Land-Grant Institutions to award scholarships to students to attend one of the nineteen 1890 Institutions in any field of study in agriculture, food, natural resource sciences or other related disciplines.

The USDA/1890 National Scholars Program will provide full tuition, employment, employee benefits, fees, books, and room and board each year for up to 4 years to selected students pursuing a bachelor's degree at one of the nineteen 1890 Institutions, which includes Southern University.

Application DEADLINE Saturday, December 31, 2016.
Click the following link for more information:

For more detail, contact Ms. Allison Johnson, (Southern University resident USDA Liaison) at (225) 771-3355 or via


Tuesday, October 18

SU’s HBCU All-Star Scholar to kick-off Campus Recycling Initiative

Event Flyer

Baton Rouge, LA – Kalaia Tripeaux, a Southern University Urban Forestry major and the University's 2016 HBCU All-Star Scholar, will kick-off a University wide recycling initiative on Wednesday, Oct. 19 from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. during the Annual Homecoming Student Health Fair in the Smith-Brown Memorial Student Union.

All Southern University students, faculty and staff are asked to bring plastic bottles and clean paper to be recycled during the event.

Tripeaux is hosting the event as her campus initiative, which each HBCU All-Star is required to conduct.

The 21 year-old Baton Rouge native was selected as one of 73 students from a national pool of 300 candidates to be named the 2016 White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) All-Stars.

The All-Stars, which are comprised of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, are being recognized for their accomplishments in academics, leadership, and civic engagement.


Monday, October 17

SU Ag Center, Southern University, LSU and Community Stakeholders Work Together to Develop Scotlandville Promise Neighborhood

Members of the Scotlandville Promise Neighborhood team are, from left, Dr. Melanie Johnson, Political Science; Dr. Sandra Brown, School of Nursing; Dr. Bobby R. Phills, Chancellor-Dean  of the SU Ag Center - College of Agriculture; Dr. Michael A. Stubblefield, Vice Chancellor for Research and Strategic Initiatives; Dr. Renita Marshall, SU Ag Center - College of Agriculture; Dr. Revathi Hines, Political Science. Standing on the second row are:  Dr. Albert L. Samuels, Interim Dean of the Nelson Mandela College of Government and Social Sciences; Dr. Erma Borskey, Social Work and Dr. Diana F. Kelly, College of Education. Team members not pictured are: Dr. Patrick Carriere, College of Engineering; Atty. Chris K. Odinet, Horatio C. Thompson Assistant Professor of Law and Louisiana Bar Foundation Scholar and Dr. Tiffany Franklin, SU Ag Center - College of Agriculture.  Photo by Chris Rogers, SU Ag Center - College of  Ag.

Community Collaboration to Improve the Scotlandville Community

Baton Rouge, LA – Scotlandville is a historic community in North Baton Rouge, and the home of Southern University.

Southern University and A&M College, Southern University Agricultural Research & Extension Center, LSU, and other community stakeholders have partnered together to design and implement a community engagement effort known as the Scotlandville Promise Neighborhood. 

This initiative is designed to improve health outcomes, increase economic potential, reduce incarceration rates, and improve graduation rates and college and career readiness within the Scotlandville community.

To support this effort, a team has submitted a proposal to the Promise Neighborhoods Program, a part of the White House Place-Based Initiatives, and if funded will bring over $30 million into the community. 

The initiative will focus its efforts in the Scotlandville community on Wellness, Early Childhood Development, K-12 Learning, College and Career Readiness and Family and Community Engagement. Under the charge and direction of the SU Office of Research & Strategic Initiatives, this cross – campus, cross disciplinary collaboration can truly make a difference.

The Promise Neighborhoods Program is funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The program began in 2010 under the Obama Administration as a community revitalization effort that provides comprehensive, cradle-to-career support for students and families in distressed communities with a school centered approach. 

For additional information on the Scotlandville Promise Neighborhood initiative, contact Renita W. Marshall, DVM, and associate professor at the SU Ag Center, at 225-771-2242.


Chancellor-Dean Dr. Bobby Phills meets with the Farm Crew

Baton Rouge, La. - The Southern University Ag Center (Land-grant Campus) Chancellor-Dean Dr. Bobby Phills meets with the Farm Crew to discuss influential farm opportunities throughout the Land-grant Campus.  Dr. Calvin R. Walker, Associate Vice Chancellor for Research participated in the discussions.


Thursday, October 13

Calling all SU Freshman Students to Take the Jag Bar Challenge

Jag Bar Challenge Flyer
Baton Rouge, La. – The Southern University Ag Center is conducting a nutrition study entitled “University freshmen moving toward becoming ambassadors for healthy communities and future generations.” Freshmen students are hereby being invited to participate in the 16-week long study. We need at least 50 freshmen students for the challenge in the spring semester of 2017.

The weight loss challenge pays $200.00 and provides a Jag Bar for breakfast every morning to qualifying freshman students who register by the end of the Fall 2016 Semester. See attached flyer for full details.

For more information, contact Mfamara Goita at (225) 771-2152,; or Fatemeh Malekian at (225) 771-0251 or via email at


Wednesday, October 12

SU Ag Center Chancellor – Dean of the College of Ag, Dr. Bobby Phills, to host a Homecoming Round-Up

SU College of Ag Students, Faculty, Staff, Alumni, SU Ag Center Employees and Constituents invited to attend

Baton Rouge, LA – The Southern University Baton Rouge campus will celebrate Homecoming the week of Oct. 16 – 22, 2016.

As part of the celebration, Dr. Bobby R. Phills, Chancellor-Dean of the Southern University Ag Center and the College of Agriculture, has invited all College of Agriculture students, alumni, SU Ag Center employees and the Center’s constituents to join him during Homecoming.

Dr. Phills will host a “Meet and Greet with the Chancellor – Dean,” for College of Agriculture students on Friday, Oct. 21 at 12 p.m., on the front lawn of Fisher Hall.

He will also discuss the “State of the Land-Grant Campus” with College of Agriculture alumni and SU Ag Center constituents at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 22nd in room 106 of Fisher Hall.

Refreshments will be served at both events, which are free; however, the SU Athletics Department charges a $10 fee per vehicle to park on the Southern University Baton Rouge campus on game days. Parking passes can also be purchased from the SU Ticket Office for $25.

The Southern Jaguars will take on the UAPB Golden Lions at 4 p.m. (on Oct. 22) with a Homecoming Pre-Game Show beginning at 2:45 p.m. The game day color for Homecoming is gold.

For a complete listing of all Southern University Homecoming Activities, visit

For additional information on the SU Ag Center/ College of Agriculture Homecoming Round-Up, contact the SU Ag Center at 225-771-2242.


USDA Celebrates National School Lunch Week and Farm to School Month

Baton Rouge, La. – On October 11, 2016, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) joined youth, parents, schools, communities, and partners across the country in honoring National School Lunch Week 2016, as proclaimed by President Obama, a time to reflect on the positive steps our nation has taken to make nutrition a priority in every U.S. school. This also coincides with the month-long celebration of Farm to School Month, which recognizes efforts to bring local foods into schools and onto students' trays.

"This is a time to reflect on the important role of the National School Lunch Program and Farm to School initiatives in improving the health of children across the country, as well as creating new opportunities for farmers and ranchers to provide schools with fresh, nutritious food," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "USDA recognizes the dedicated school nutrition professionals who are committed to creating a healthy environment for all children, teaching them the importance of good nutrition, and helping them form the healthy habits they need to thrive in the classroom and beyond. We also celebrate the success of farm to school initiatives, which support local economies and are truly a win-win for America's schools, farmers, producers, communities, and children. We will continue to work tirelessly until consistent access to nutritious food is a reality for every child in America."

The more than 50 million children who attend schools that participate in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs are experiencing school environments that are healthier than ever. These students have access to balanced meals that reflect the latest nutrition science in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans as well as recommendations from pediatricians and National Academy of Medicine. The meals feature more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat milk. Many of these items can be locally-sourced through farm to school programs.

The fresh, local foods offered through farm to school programs help school meal programs provide healthy, appealing, and diverse offerings. Results of the 2015 USDA Farm to School Census show that more than 42,000 schools nationwide have a farm to school program. These schools report reductions in food waste, higher school meal participation rates, and increased willingness of the students to try new foods, notably fruits and vegetables. In the 2013-14 school year alone, these programs invested nearly $800 million back into local economies, helping 23.6 million students develop healthy eating habits and learn where their food comes from.

Building on the progress around the country, this summer, USDA issued two additional final rules: Smart Snacks in Schools and Local School Wellness Policy. For the last few years, schools have been serving breakfasts and lunches that meet the updated standards under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010; in fact, more than 99 percent of schools nationwide currently report meeting those new nutrition standards. The recent regulations put in place by the Smart Snacks in Schools Final Rule and Local School Wellness Policy Final Rule take healthy school environments one step further by holding snacks served in schools and food or beverage marketing students are exposed to during the school day to standards that are consistent with those for school meals.
Healthy school meals are particularly important for the more than 13 million U.S. children who live in food insecure households; for some, school meals may be all nutrition they receive in a day. To help reduce hunger, USDA's Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), an optional cost-sharing partnership between the federal government and school districts in high-poverty areas, allows eligible schools in lower income areas to serve nutritious lunches and breakfasts to all students at no cost. Not only does CEP help break down barriers that can prevent children in need from accessing school meals, it also greatly reduces the administrative burden on schools and families. Close to 8.5 million students from more than 18,000 schools across the country participated in the program in school year 2015-16.

USDA provides a number of resources to schools to help support continued progress. For example, USDA's Team Up for School Nutrition Success initiative offers mentor-based training and action planning for school food service professionals. In addition, USDA provides grants to support healthy school environments. USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) recently awarded $6.7 million in grants through the Team Nutrition Training Grants to expand and enhance training for school nutrition and child care professionals. They are also currently accepting applications for up to $5 million in Farm to School Grants.
Farm to School Grants and support for local food in schools are part of USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (KYF2) Initiative, which coordinates the Department's work to develop strong local and regional food systems. Over the course of the Obama Administration, USDA has invested close to $1 billion in 40,000 local food-related projects on farms and in communities across the country. You can find local and regional supply chain resources on the newly-revamped KYF2 website and use the KYF2 Compass to locate USDA investments in your community.

To learn more about the latest accomplishments of USDA's nutrition assistance programs, see the new infographic, The Impact and Legacy of USDA Nutrition Programs from 2009 to 2016. An extended narrative by Secretary Vilsack on the progress in fighting hunger and improving the health of America's children over the last eight years can be found on USDA's Medium page.

FNS administers 15 nutrition assistance programs. In addition to the National School Lunch Program, this includes the School Breakfast Program; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC); the Summer Food Service Program, and others. Together, these programs comprise America's nutrition safety net. For more information, visit


Thursday, October 6

Nearly 300 Students attend SU Ag Center’s 4-H National Youth Science Day

A drone hovers over the crowd during the SU Ag Center's 2016 4-H National Youth Science Day.

Baton Rouge, LA – Two hundred and ninety-three students from Southern University Laboratory, Scotlandville Pre-Engineering Academy, Park Ridge, J. K. Haynes, Progress and Ryan Elementary, Tallulah Charter, Kentwood High Magnet and St. Helena College & Career Academy schools attended the Southern University Ag Center’s 2016 4-H National Youth Science Day (4-H NYSD).

The national event was held in the Cotillion Ballroom of the Smith-Brown Memorial Student Union on Wednesday, Oct. 5 on the Southern University Baton Rouge campus.

 This year’s experiment, called Drone Discovery, consisted of a hands-on, three part engineering design challenge which allowed students to experiment with fixed and rotary wing designs, explore the concept of remote sensing and dive into the world of coding for real-world drone applications.

The event featured a drone demonstration by Garrett Edgerson, a choral performance by the Scotlandville Pre-Engineering Magnet Academy Choir and several interactive display stations on 4-H, Tobacco Free Living, Community Policing, Biofuel, the United States Department of Agriculture, Apparel Merchandising and Textiles, Animal Science, Healthy Living, Erosion and Gardening.

Comedian and Max 94.1 FM radio personality, Howard Hall served as host of the event.

Southern University Ag Center Chancellor – Dean, Bobby R. Phills, Ph.D.; East Baton Rouge Parish School System Deputy Superintendent, Michelle Clayton, Ph.D. and Gulf State Regional Director for the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), Rockiell Woods spoke to the students on the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and pursuing a college education.

4-H NYSD is the world’s largest youth-led science experiment, drawing nearly 100,000 participants in 2015. The national day is dedicated to engaging youth with science through a hands-on, interactive learning experience that gets youth excited about STEM.

The 2016 activity was designed by Cornell University Cooperative Extension.  The event’s national partners are HughesNet®, Lockheed Martin and U.S. Cellular. DJI, the world’s largest maker of consumer drones, is the national sponsor.

For additional information about the Southern University Ag Center’s 4-H National Youth Science Day or 4-H activities, contact Tiffany W. Franklin, Ph.D., at 225.771.2242.

Photos from the 2016 4-H National Youth Science Day are available here.


Tuesday, October 4

USDA Launches New Apprenticeship Program Targeting Veterans

Baton Rouge, La. - Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the start of a new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) jobs program that will use the national apprenticeship system to hire new employees as agricultural commodity graders, a key role in USDA's mission to protect American consumers. The new program will also serve as a way to increase jobs for U.S. veterans.

The program, piloted by USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), is a registered national apprenticeship program that combines on-the-job training with theoretical and practical instruction in the classroom and online. Apprentices who complete the paid training program will meet the qualifications for a position as a USDA Agricultural Commodities Grader.

Although the program is open to anyone interested in a career in agriculture, Secretary Vilsack said he is proud the program offers veterans a path to success and hopes many will take advantage of the opportunity.

"USDA is committed to supporting America's Veterans," said Secretary Vilsack. "Our new apprenticeship program will give them a chance to join a talented pool of USDA professionals and leaders who ensure America's food maintains its quality and safety. If they are passionate about a career in agriculture, we want to help them achieve it."

At USDA, the new apprenticeship program will also serve as the pilot for a new online interactive learning management system, which AMS will use to standardize training for all Specialty Crops Inspection employees. The learning management system will also deliver online training components and share real-time data with DOL and VA.

More information about the new apprenticeship program and other opportunities is available at or


USDA Issues Safety-Net Payments to Farmers in Response to 2015 Market Downturn

Baton Rouge, La. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that beginning today, October 4, 2016, many of the 1.7 million farms that enrolled in either the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs will receive safety-net payments due to market downturns during the 2015 crop year.

"This fall, USDA will be making more than $7 billion in payments under the ARC-County and PLC programs to assist participating producers, which will account for over 10 percent of USDA's projected 2016 net farm income. These payments will help provide reassurance to America's farm families, who are standing strong against low commodity prices compounded by unfavorable growing conditions in many parts of the country," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "At USDA, we are standing strong behind them, tapping in to every resource that we have to help. So far in 2016, this has included creating a one-time cost share program for cotton ginning, purchasing about $800 million in excess commodities to be redirected to food banks and those in need, making $11 million in payments to America's dairy farmers through the Dairy Margin Protection Program, and reprogramming Farm Service Agency funds to expand credit options for farmers and ranchers in need of extra capital. As always, we continue to watch market conditions and will explore opportunities for further assistance in the coming months. For producers challenged by weather, disease and falling prices, we will continue to ensure the availability of a strong safety net to keep them farming or ranching."

Nationwide, producers enrolled 96 percent of soybean base acres, 91 percent of corn base acres and 66 percent of wheat base acres in the ARC-County coverage option. Producers enrolled 99 percent of long grain rice and peanut base acres and 94 percent of medium grain rice base acres in the PLC option. Overall, 76 percent of participating farm base acres are enrolled in ARC-County, 23 percent in PLC and one percent in ARC-Individual. For other program information including frequently asked questions, visit

The Budget Control Act of 2011, passed by Congress, requires USDA to reduce 2015 ARC and PLC payments by 6.8 percent. For more information, producers are encouraged to visit their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office. To find a local FSA office, visit

For more information, visit