Outstanding Alumni


Jerry Peters
Jerry Peters: LSU College of Agriculture Outstanding Alumni
Jerry Peters embodies the definition of the American farmer. Peters was born into an agriculture family in Crowville in Franklin Parish. He received a dairy science degree in 1963 and worked as an agriculture and mathematics teacher in the Franklin Parish school system before starting Jerry Peters Farms in 1973.

For nearly 40 years, he farmed a mix of cotton, soybeans, wheat, grain sorghum and corn.

Ashley Peters, one of Peters’ sons, said his father never met a stranger and has always been willing to give the shirt off his back to help anyone.

“He experienced the highs and lows of production agriculture but continued doing what he loved,” Ashley Peters said.

Peters served on numerous boards and committees throughout his career, including the Franklin Parish Farm Bureau Board, the Franklin Parish School Board, the Associated Producers Cooperative Cotton Gin Board, the Farm Service Agency County Committee and the Tensas Basin Levee District.

State senator Neil Riser said that Peters “has shown outstanding leadership and made significant contributions to the community of agriculture through his hard work and public service.”

He has been married to Sybil Ann Lambright Peters for 47 years and has two sons, Alan and Ashley Peters.

Peters retired from production agriculture but has a small peach orchard and home garden and enjoys farming on a smaller scale.
Reynold Minsky
Reynold Minsky: LSU College of Agriculture Outstanding Alumni
Reynold Minsky realized early on that one way to be successful in agriculture was adding value to what he produces.

Minsky, a 1960 horticulture graduate from the LSU College of Agriculture, is the owner of Minsky Pecan Market and Providence Foods LLC.

Minsky farms pecans and produces food products, such as jellies, salsas and spices.

In the 50-plus years since graduating from LSU, Minsky continues to be involved in production agriculture as a crop consultant and landowner. In addition to his many business ventures, he is active in many community and church activities, including the Rotary Club and Farm Bureau, and he currently serves as president of the Louisiana Fifth District Levee Board and as a deacon in the First Baptist Church in Lake Providence.  

“Mr. Minky’s advice and wise counsel are sought by leaders at the state and national levels,” said Rene Simon, director of the Louisiana Agricultural Finance Authority and president of the LSU College of Agriculture Alumni Association.

Minsky lives in Lake Providence with his wife, Carleen. They have five children, 12 grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.
Tara Smith
Tara Smith: Early Career Alumni Award
Dr. Tara Smith has quickly risen in the ranks of the LSU AgCenter. Smith started as a sweet potato specialist and assistant professor, eventually adding research coordinator of the Sweet Potato Research Station to her duties. Her work has contributed to the economic stability of the Louisiana sweet potato industry, and farmers she has worked closely with have said she serves the industry with professionalism and integrity.

Smith now serves as director of the northeast and central regions overseeing the efforts of extension agents and faculty.

Smith received her Ph.D. in entomology from LSU in 2006.  She has a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of Louisiana at Monroe and a Master of Science in biology from Louisiana Tech.  

“Tara has been a source of inspiration and courage to all segments of the sweet potato industry, from one-on-one interaction with growers, shippers and researchers to promoting economic investment from processors,” said Matthew Garber, a sweet potato farmer.

Dr. Mike Strain, commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, said, “I have found her to be extremely knowledgeable and hardworking and always striving for what is best for the agricultural producers of Louisiana.”

Smith is an active member of the College of Agriculture Alumni Association board, where serves as president. Smith and her husband, Joey, have two children, Zoe and Parker.