Six people who completed environmental stewardship training through the Louisiana Master Farmer Program were recognized Jan. 9 during the Louisiana Association of Conservation Districts annual meeting in Baton Rouge.
They join more than 200 others who have earned the Master Farmer designation since the program, which is led by the LSU AgCenter, launched in 2001.
Participants must attend classes on environmental stewardship and develop plans for implementing conservation practices on their farms. Sessions are taught by experts from 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.
“Conservation is very important to the sustainability of agriculture throughout the world,” said Ronnie Levy, Master Farmer Program coordinator. “The Louisiana Master Farmer Program is leading the nation in helping farms continue to thrive while preserving soil health, water quality and other facets of the environment for future generations.”
The latest graduates of the program are Kirk J. Garber, of Rapides Parish; Daniel Hebert, of St. Martin Parish; Glenn Simon, Lucas Simon and Wesley Simon, all of Acadia Parish; and Sonja Vice, of Bossier Parish.
Four previous graduates who logged continuing education hours to renew their certifications also were honored. They are James “Buff” Fontenot, of St. Landry Parish; Patrick N. Hebert and Christian J. Richard, both of Vermilion Parish; and Mike Strain, of St. Tammany Parish.
Strain is the commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry.
Also at the ceremony, Franklin Parish farmer Gregory Kincaid received the Outstanding Master Farmer Award. A 2012 graduate of the program who was recertified in 2018, Kincaid produces corn, soybeans, hay and cattle on land that has been in his family for more than 100 years.
“This land is the anchor that has kept my family in Louisiana all these years,” Kincaid said in a nomination application for the award. “We make a living and stay in business. A lot of families haven’t been able to do that, and I feel like I’m carrying the torch. The land is still productive after all these years and hopefully it will continue.”
Kincaid has worked with the AgCenter, the NRCS and the Northeast Soil and Water Conservation District to try new strategies to reduce soil compaction and erosion, irrigate more efficiently and improve water quality.