Youth from across south Louisiana gathered in December at the LSU AgCenter H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station to learn about career options in agriculture.
Participants in the Southwest Region Agriculture Career Day included the LSU College of Agriculture, LSU AgCenter Extension and Louisiana 4-H.
A total of 37 high school students attended the career day from Acadia, Calcasieu, Cameron, Iberia, Iberville, Jefferson Davis, St. Martin, St. Mary and Vermilion parishes.
AgCenter agents, scientists from the Rice Research Station and representatives from the LSU College of Agriculture talked about their careers and what their jobs involve.
“Agriculture has something for everyone,” said Kurt Guidry, director of the LSU AgCenter Southwest Region.
College of Agriculture
Rogers Leonard, LSU AgCenter associate vice president for plants, soil and water, said students considering LSU should look at College of Agriculture offerings. He said it’s not uncommon for college students to change majors.
Scott DeJean, a veterinarian with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said most LSU School of Veterinary Medicine students are women, but years ago enrollment was dominated by men.
Academic performance is the key to getting accepted to the vet school. “If you have the grades in college, you’re going to get into vet school,” DeJean said.
He also demonstrated testing chickens for diseases.
Hilton Waits, AgCenter agent in Vermilion Parish, and Stuart Gauthier, AgCenter agent in St. Martin Parish, talked about the demand for veterinarians in poultry operations. AgCenter research associate Gerry Romero told the students about the AgCenter poultry science facility and showed students how eggs are graded.
Rice Research Station resident coordinator Don Groth said he started college as an anthropology major but began looking at other options when he realized jobs in that field are scarce.
Doorways to agriculture
One botany class changed his career choice. “I fell in love with plant science and botany,” Groth said. “There are a lot of doorways to agriculture.”
AgCenter rice breeder Adam Famoso said he didn’t know what he wanted to do when he started college. He said he started in forestry, then switched to urban forestry, and eventually got his bachelor’s degree in botany and ended up with a doctorate in plant breeding.
Donna Sapp, undergraduate coordinator and instructor for the College of Agriculture School of Textiles, Apparel Design and Marketing, talked about the different careers choices involved with clothing design and demonstrated how clothes are made.
“There are numerous opportunities for you in the apparel industry,” Sapp said.
Students were shown what is involved in breeding new rice varieties, milling rice, studying rice production, poultry science, equine biology, and the design and crafting of clothing.
Seth Trahan, a Grand Lake High School senior, said the day showed him the different options that agriculture offers. “There are so many opportunities in agriculture,” he said.
He said he hadn’t considered an agriculture-related career, but the day showed him that could be possible. “I’m going into chemistry, so I could turn to agriculture,” Trahan said.
Madison delaHoussaye, a Breaux Bridge High sophomore, said she wants to be a vet, and she learned a few things she can use with her own chickens.
Ariyannah Thibeaux, a Breaux Bridge High freshman, said after the day’s presentations she realized her interest could also involve agriculture. “I want to do something with computers,” she said.
Kassidie Bourgeois, a sophomore at Rayne High, said she had already planned an agriculture career. “I want to be a vet or a zoologist,” she said.
Bourgeois said she realizes that she could work for a company as a large-animal vet.