The Louisiana Master Farmer Program, a Louisiana State University AgCenter-led initiative that teaches about conservation, recently graduated its 2020 class.
Five new Master Farmer certifications as well as 14 recertifications were awarded recently during a virtual meeting of the Louisiana Association of Conservation Districts. Also, Mead Hardwick of Tensas Parish was named the 2020 Louisiana Outstanding Master Farmer.
To become a Master Farmer, participants must attend educational sessions about environmental stewardship and develop plans for implementing conservation practices on their farms. To maintain the Master Farmer designation, they must meet continuing education requirements and periodically be recertified.
“Even in these trying times of COVID-19 restrictions and economic instability, each of these producers worked hard to address all of the environmentally-related concerns on their farm and should be proud of this,” said Donna Gentry, coordinator of the Louisiana Master Farmer Program.
The 2020 recipients join the 351 that have been certified or recertified since 2006.
New certifications were given to Andy Gagliano, Tangipahoa Parish; Casey Towns, Union Parish; Demeter Properties, Tangipahoa Parish; Shooting Star Bull Dogs LLC, Tangipahoa Parish; and William Dobson, of B Bar D LLC, Bossier Parish.
Those who completed recertification are Jessie Crosier, St. Martin Parish; Thibodeaux Ag Group, Acadia Parish; Gerard Frey, Acadia Parish; Dana Frey, Acadia Parish; Kyle Fontenot, Jefferson Davis Parish; Ross Bruchhaus, Jefferson Davis Parish; Charles Bruchhaus, Jefferson Davis Parish; Jason Benoit, Jefferson Davis Parish; Martin Frey, Pointe Coupee Parish; Jens A. Rummler, Pointe Coupee Parish; Jens P. Rummler, Pointe Coupee Parish; Wesley Jones, Pointe Coupee Parish; Junius Hebert Jr., St. Mary Parish; and Mary Ann Hebert, St. Mary Parish.
Hardwick, who received the Outstanding Master Farmer award, is a partner in the Hardwick Planting Co., which produces cotton, corn, soybeans, wheat and grain sorghum in Newellton.
“Mead is an active advocate for conservation and sustainability through his cooperation in soil health trials and agricultural industry-related involvement,” Gentry said. “Hardwick Planting Co.’s production includes conservation-minded practices such as crop rotation, cover crops and minimum tillage. All production practices have the focus of reduced tillage, minimal trips across the field, maximizing personnel and equipment efficiencies, and a minimum impact to the farm landscape.”
Hardwick will be presented a plaque and two monetary awards sponsored by the Louisiana Land Bank and Gowan Co. at an upcoming field day.
In addition to the AgCenter, the Louisiana Farm Bureau, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, the Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service help lead Master Farmer trainings.
The LSU AgCenter contributed this article.