By Bruce Schultz, LSU AgCenter
The National Association of County Agricultural Agents chose the Louisiana Master Farmer Program as the winner of the Search for Excellence in Forestry and Natural Resources Award.
The award was presented at the NACAA national conference in Salt Lake City, July 9-13.
Amy-Lynn Albertson, Search for Excellence Committee vice chairwoman, introduced the Louisiana Master Farmer Program as an exceptional application for the national award.
Ernest Girouard, Louisiana Master Farmer Program director with the LSU AgCenter, said the award competition required a summary of how the program is implemented and how it benefits the agricultural community. Girouard is retiring from the AgCenter in September.
“This is icing on the cake,” Girouard said. “But the award is for a team effort.”
Accepting the award with Girouard were LSU AgCenter program staff members Donna Morgan, Allen Hogan and James Hendrix.
“The award recognizes the excellent Louisiana Master Farmer Program team effort, AgCenter administration, extension and research support; partners and staff that support and believe in the program; last but not least, the farmers that participate in the program,” Girouard said.
The Louisiana Master Farmer Program focuses on helping agricultural producers voluntarily address environmental concerns and helping them enhance the production and resource management skills they need for natural resource management and continued sustainability, he said.
Upon completing the program, a producer becomes a certified Louisiana Master Farmer.
“The program uses a comprehensive approach that includes classroom instruction, observation of LSU AgCenter research-based best management practices and implementation of a comprehensive conservation plan,” Girouard said.
In addition to the AgCenter, program partners include the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Louisiana Farm Bureau and the Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association.
Rogers Leonard, LSU AgCenter associate vice president for plants, soils and water resources, said the Louisiana Master Farmer Program serves as a national model for voluntary participation by farmers to manage their land and water resources in an environmentally sustainable manner.
“This award further recognizes the accomplishments of the team that includes not only the LSU AgCenter, but also the USDA NRCS and Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry,” Leonard said. “We are very pleased that the efforts of this group were acknowledged by the National Association of County Agricultural Agents.”