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Louisiana Master Farmers honored at awards luncheon

Damian Bollich, has been named the 2023 Louisiana Outstanding Master Farmer, by the LSU AgCenter.

V. Todd Miller

January 23, 2024

2 Min Read
LSU Master Farmer of the Year
Damian Bollich of Morehouse Parish was named the 2023 Outstanding Master Farmer. His son, Brandon, center, accepted the award for him and is pictured with, from left, Joey Breaux, assistant commissioner of the Louisiana Office of Soil and Water Conservation; Tara Smith, AgCenter executive associate vice president and director of the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service; Michael Salassi, AgCenter associate vice president and director of the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station; and David Bergeron, vice president and branch manager of Louisiana Land Bank. V. Todd Miller/LSU AgCenter

The 2023 Louisiana Outstanding Master Farmer Award, one new certification and nine recertifications were presented during a meeting of the Louisiana Association of Conservation Districts Jan. 9 in Baton Rouge.

The Louisiana Master Farmer Program is a multiagency effort led by the LSU AgCenter that encourages conservation and environmental stewardship. It was created more than two decades ago to help producers improve soil health, water quality and sustainability.

To become a Master Farmer, participants must participate in educational sessions about environmental stewardship, attend a conservation-based field day and develop plans for implementing conservation practices on their farms. To maintain the Master Farmer designation, they must meet continuing education requirements and be recertified every five years.

“After 23 years, we are proud to say that the Master Farmer Program is still relevant to Louisiana agriculture and still going strong,” said Donna Gentry, coordinator of the Louisiana Master Farmer Program.

Outstanding Master Farmer

Damian Bollich, who received the Outstanding Master Farmer Award, has spent the past three decades farming rice, soybeans and grain sorghum in Morehouse Parish. He is an active member of Farm Bureau and has served on numerous committees and boards over the years.

“Damian has seen the benefits of on-the-ground conservation practices including field borders, filter strips, cover crops and reduced tillage and has not only increased his conservation efforts over the last 20 years but his yields as well,” Gentry said.

Bollich was unable to attend the festivities, but his son, Brandon, was presented a plaque and two $1,000 awards sponsored by the Gowan Company and Louisiana Land Bank.

Dwayne Gossen, a rice, soybean and crawfish producer from Acadia Parish, was the only new certification and joins the 368 who have been certified or recertified since 2006.

Recertifications were given to Jo Ann Calais, Acadia Parish; Ernest Girouard, Vermilion Parish; Chris Hightower, Claiborne Parish; Greg Kincaid, Franklin Parish; Sherill Sagrera, Vermilion Parish; Beverly Thoman, Natchitoches Parish; David Thoman, Natchitoches Parish; Keven Michael Volentine, Caddo Parish; and Wesley Volentine, Caddo Parish.

In addition to the AgCenter, the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, the Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service help coordinate the Master Farmer Program.

Source: Louisiana State University AgCenter

About the Author(s)

V. Todd Miller

Assistant Communications Specialist, Louisiana State University AgCenter

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