LSU College of Agriculture wraps up first mentoring program

baker and smith

Mia Baker, a senior studying nutrition and food sciences, with her mentor Dr. Tara Smith, LSU AgCenter Northeast region director.Photo by Tobie Blanchard

LSU College of Agriculture’s Mentoring Program paired students with alumni and supporters of the college for professional development and networking opportunities. The program closing day, held March 22, brought together mentors and their mentees for lunch, a recognition program and the opportunity to participate in the college’s Ag Week service project.

Mia Baker, a senior majoring in nutrition and food sciences, participated in the program because she thought it would help broaden her scope. Tara Smith, LSU AgCenter Northeast region director, served as Baker’s mentor and introduced her to career opportunities in the AgCenter.

“I didn’t know about the possibility of being a nutrition agent, but now that is something I am very interested in,” Baker said.

During the program, Baker visited Smith in Winnsboro, met AgCenter nutrition agents and learned about the sweet potato industry that is a vital part of that region.

Baker said the mentoring program prepared her for applying for internships this summer. Baker has already accepted an offer to work in community nutrition with the AgCenter. 

Melanie Netterville, a senior studying agricultural business, was paired with crop consultant Ashley Peters. Netterville said she benefited from the program.

“It was a good experience, and I know I will stay in contact with him,” she said.

Netterville is interested in pursuing a graduate degree and potentially a career in crop consulting.

Jamie Bourg, an administrative manager with Louisiana Workers Compensation Corporation, said the program helped facilitate conversations and activities between her and her mentee, Andrew Brechtel, a freshman majoring in agriculture and extension education.  

“We met face-to-face a few times and communicated via email,” she said. “He knows that he can call me whenever he needs.”

Gigi Gauthier, director of internships with the College of Agriculture, said alumni and industry have been looking for ways to get involved with the college and this has been an effective way for that to happen.

Phil Elzer, associate dean of the College of Agriculture, thanked the mentors for offering their time and expertise to the program.

“These are our future leaders,” Elzer said of the students. “This guidance will help them serve the College of Agriculture, the AgCenter and agriculture in general.”