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Steve Linscombe honored for years of service to LSU, rice industry

LSU Rice Research Station staff goes to great lengths to honor leader, coworker.

For more than two decades Bill Richardson, LSU vice president for agriculture and dean of the College of Agriculture, and Steve Linscombe, resident director of the H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station, have greeted each other warmly at the start of the station’s annual field day.

This year was different. Dr. Linscombe, who also is the rice breeder for the LSU AgCenter and director of its Southwest Region, based in Crowley, La., walked up to Dr. Richardson and said “I want you to know I didn’t approve this.”

This was the cover of the program the Rice Research Station distributes at its annual Rice Field Day. Instead of the cover Linscombe thought he had approved, the station’s staff substituted one with a smiling photo of Linscombe standing in a rice plot, probably planted to one of the 33 varieties he developed during his 35 years of service to LSU and the rice industry.

“The last thing he wanted today was any recognition,” said Dr. Richardson, speaking at the indoor portion of the Rice Field Day. “This program was real sneaky. We hoped he wouldn’t see it, and he came walking up to the table, grabbed a copy and came over and said ‘I did not approve this.’

“The staff sneaked one in on him, and the one he approved never got published.”

LSU recognition policy

Dr. Richard said trying to find a fitting recognition for “someone who has dedicated his entire life to building one of the best rice breeding programs in the country is next to impossible.

“LSU policy is you can’t name a building for someone until they’ve been dead for two years. That created a little problem,” he said, as Dr. Linscombe responded that he would pass on the honor because of the qualification.

Instead, LSU officials plan to rename the Conference Room in the Rice Research Station Building on the Crowley Campus for Dr. Linscombe, which Dr. Richardson called a “very fitting thing.”

Dr. Rogers Leonard, associate vice president for plants, soils and water resources at the LSU AgCenter, noted Dr. Linscombe originally applied for a forage breeding position with LSU after he received his Ph.D. in agronomy from Mississippi State University. He was not chosen for that job, but later became Extension rice specialist for Louisiana.

“I can’t imagine what would have happened without him as a rice breeder,” Leonard said. “It’s been a pleasure to work with someone who expects so much from himself and his employees.”

More than 1,000 presentations

Clarence Berken, a rice producer and vice chairman of the Louisiana Rice Research Board, said Linscombe has received 14 awards in 21 years, developed 33 new rice varieties, obtained $17 million in grants and made more than 1,000 presentations around the world. Berken presented him with a certificate of recognition signed by Gov. John Bel Edwards.

After those comments, Dr. Linscombe assured the audience none of what he had accomplished could have been done without the assistance of the many staff members at the Rice Research Station who had served with him through the years.

“This has been a very good place to work because of the people at the station and the people I’ve worked with throughout the years,” he said. “It has been an honor to work for the LSU AgCenter and for the rice industry.

I’ll miss it. I won’t miss walking in the rice fields when it’s 100 degrees and 110 percent relative humidity for three or four or five or six hours at a time, but I’ll miss the people and the connections,” he noted.

Dr. Linscombe recognized another soon-to-be retiree, Bill Leonard, who has served as station superintendent for more than 40 years.

“We get a lot of credit for the way the rice plots and the station look on days like this, our 108th field day,” he noted. “I promise you much of that would not be possible without the dedication of Mr. Leonards.”

For more information on Dr. Linscombe’s research, visit


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