Fourteen young people from around Louisiana have been selected for the LSU AgCenter’s Louisiana Young Ag Producers Program, according to program coordinator Bradley Leger.

Members of the 2010-11 class are: Adam Barrilleaux, East Baton Rouge Parish; Kody Beavers, Franklin Parish; Dylan Benoit, Jefferson Davis Parish; Jake Broussard, Iberia Parish; Tanya Davis, Tangipahoa Parish; Jeremy Dixon, West Feliciana Parish; David Fontenot, Evangeline Parish; Anneliese Franklin, East Baton Rouge Parish; Courtney Hebert, Tangipahoa Parish; Cade Heinen, Jefferson Davis Parish; Wyatt Joiner, St. Tammany Parish; Channing LaLande, Cameron Parish; Cade Marceaux, Vermilion Parish; and Daniel McFarland, Caddo Parish.

The program is a one-year, intensive classroom and hands-on, mentor-based experience to introduce high school juniors and seniors to careers in food and fiber production and to encourage them to consider agriculture as a career, Leger said.

Industry groups are concerned about the declining number of farmers in Louisiana and the nation according to Paul Coreil, LSU AgCenter vice chancellor and director of the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service.

“As the average age of Louisiana farmers continues to increase and the number of farmers decreases, we need to take definitive actions and implement mentoring and leadership programs that can help reverse this trend and assure society has a safe, plentiful and secure food and fiber supply into the future,” Coreil said. “We think the initiative will help recruit and retain new farmers and new agricultural leaders from Louisiana high schools.”

The students have a wide range of production interests, which include beef, rice, forestry, sugarcane, cotton, equine and specialty crops, Leger said.

“We had a great pool of highly qualified candidates from which to choose,” Leger said. “And we are confident these young agriculturists will have a great impact on the future of our state’s agricultural industry.”

The program will provide knowledge and resources that ultimately will lead them to entering their choice of an agricultural production enterprise, he added.

To be considered for the program, candidates must demonstrate a sincere interest in entering the profession, agree to attend summer institutes in 2010 and 2011 and complete a project along with participating in 50 internship hours with a qualified mentor during the 2010-2011 school term. The 2010 summer institute will be held July 19-23 on the LSU campus in Baton Rouge.

In addition to the LSU AgCenter, program sponsors include the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry.