LSU College of Agriculture Alumni Association Names 2021 Award Recipients

December 02, 2021

By Malorey Uzee

Alumni Award Group Photo

The LSU College of Agriculture 2020 and 2021 outstanding alumni and early career alumni award recipients.

– Photo by Malorey Uzee

The LSU College of Agriculture has named Kenneth Gravois and Steve Peirce as outstanding alumni for 2021. Rebecca Melanson and Jeremy Hendrix received the early career alumni award.

Kenneth Gravois

Kenneth Gravois receiving the 2021 outstanding alumni award, acknowledging his contributions for Louisiana's sugarcane industry.

– Photo by Malorey Uzee

Gravois is a three-time graduate of the college, receiving a Bachelor of Science in crop science in 1981, and a masters and PhD in plant breeding in 1983 and 1988, respectively. 

He currently serves as a Sugar Research Station/Southwest Region Extension Sugarcane Specialist for the LSU AgCenter. Gravois has achieved many honors and won many awards, including the Denver T. Loup Best Paper Award, Denver T. Loupe Sugar Heritage ASSCT Professorship, Tipton Team Research Award, Louisiana Agriculture Best Paper, and currently holds three plant patents.

Additionally, he is a member of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Rice Technical Working Group, and American Society of Sugarcane Technologists.

Peirce Receiving his Award

Steve Peirce receiving the 2021 outstanding alumni award, celebrating his leadership accomplishments.

– Photo by Malorey Uzee

Peirce received his bachelor's degree in agricultural economics in 1980 from the LSU College of Agriculture. He is currently President of Ribus International, a food ingredient company based in St. Louis, Mo.

Under Peirce's leadership, RIBUS has been awarded patents on three products in more than 15 countries, launched six ingredients (both conventional and organic) that have been exported to 40 countries, and has been positioned as a "Clean Label" ingredient company, using rice hulls and rice bran as alternatives to synthetic compounds.

During his time at LSU, Peirce achieved many accolades, including becoming the state vice president for Louisiana FFA, chapter president for Collegiate FFA, pledge class president of Alpha Gamma Pho, president of the College of Agriculture, and president of Omicron Delta Kappa.

In recent years, Peirce was awarded Honorary State Farmer in 2019 from the Louisiana FFA, Excipient of the Year from 2019-21 from Nutrition Industry Executive, Missouri Ag Exporter of the Year in 2011, and was appointed as USDA Advisor to the Secretary of Agriculture for Grain and Seeds in 2016.

Melanson Receiving Her Award

Melanson received the early career alumni award, which acknowledged her contributions to the extension field.

– Photo by Malorey Uzee

Melanson attended graduate school at the LSU College of Agriculture in the Department of Plant Pathology and Crop Physiology, where she received her M.S. in 2011 and her Ph.D. in 2014 in plant health with concentrations in plant pathology.

During her time at LSU, Melanson was an active leader in the PPCP Graduate Student Association, the American Phytopathological Society, and the Southern Division of APS.

Melanson is an associate extension professor for the Mississippi State University Extension Service. Melanson educates and assists stakeholders, including commercial producers and county agricultural agents, with plant disease identification and management needs in this role.

She has taken over as the leader and organizer for one extension program and has developed and organized seven additional extension programs.

In addition to her leadership accomplishments, Melanson has written 13 publications. Five of these new publications have won awards from the Mississippi Association of County Agricultural Agents, and two have won regional awards from the National Association of County Agricultural Agents.

Hendrix Receiving His Award

Hendrix received the 2021 early career alumni award, acknowledging his leadership in Louisiana agriculture.

– Photo by Malorey Uzee.

Hendrix received a B.S. in animal science with a concentration in science and technology in 2004 from the LSU College of Agriculture. He also received an M.B.A. in family enterprise and entrepreneurship from Louisiana State University Shreveport.

Hendrix was an active member of MANRRS, LSU Pre-Veterinary Club, Poultry Science Club, and Alpha Phi Omega during his time at LSU. He is currently a member of the Baton Roots Advisory Board, LSU College of Agriculture Alumni Board Committee, and Sustainable Agriculture, Research and Education Advisory Board.

Hendrix currently serves as the Assistant Director of Soybean Promotion Board, National Organics Program State Coordinator, State Agency Ethics Liaison, Safety and Loss Prevention Program Director and Director of Minority and Veteran Affairs at the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry.

The LSU College of Agriculture also recognized the 2020 winners for outstanding alumni and early career alumni awards. Rogers Leonard and David Wilson were recognized as outstanding alumni for 2020. Marshall Hardwick received the early career alumni award for 2020.