LSU College of Agriculture Combines Traditional Education and Research with Hands-On Approach to an Evolving World

When some people hear the word "agriculture," they may automatically think of farmers raising animals or harvesting crops.

LSU College of Agriculture faculty offer years of experience not only in the application of agricultural programs and practices, but also in the economic and business aspects of agriculture.
Photo by Eddy Perez

However, the scope of agriculture is much broader, and the LSU College of Agriculture offers students the chance to learn and pursue careers in the expansive field of agriculture and its many avenues.

“Agriculture is the bedrock on which our civilization sets,” said Kenneth Koonce, dean of the College of Agriculture. “The LSU College of Agriculture focuses on the dimensions of agriculture from the environment on which production of food and fiber depends through the commerce and consumption of the products of agriculture to their impact on society.  Our students study the many dimensions of agriculture through community engagement, experiential learning, communication, globalization, with leadership and teamwork development.

The LSU College of Agriculture became an administrative unit at LSU in 1908, but its land grant mission dates to 1862 and to the university’s first graduating class, which had a planter as one of its five graduates.

Today, the teaching programs in the LSU College of Agriculture have evolved from a focus solely on production agriculture to include the realms of business, science and technology. The college is home to more than 40 majors and areas of concentration within 11 academic departments and schools. The college’s mission consists of three emphases – learning, discovery and active engagement in the community.

The comprehensive array of programs offered in the LSU College of Agriculture spans from the production of food and fiber products to new technologies in the areas of environment, natural resources, nutrition, human resources, biotechnology, agribusiness, food quality, value added products, consumer science, quantitative science and global competitiveness. All of the programs provide an interdisciplinary educational experience that reflects the latest in science and technology and is built on the six focus areas that are core to the college’s strategic agenda - environmental quality and renewable resource management; bioscience and technology in agriculture; processes and products for added value; agribusiness, consumer science and global competitiveness; food quality, nutrition, and health; and human resource development.

Academic units and degree programs

Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness

Faculty and students in the LSU College of Agriculture's Department of Food Science work to conduct research and train students in and the quality, nutrition, processing and safety of foods for the $600 billion food industry by integrating biology, physical sciences and engineering.
Photo by Eddy Perez

With a mission to address questions and concerns involving the economics and sociology of agriculture, natural resources and rural communities, the LSU Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness is known both nationally and internationally for its teaching, research and service programs, as well as for providing outstanding undergraduate and graduate degrees programs.

The department offers Bachelor of Science degrees in agricultural business, as well as a full range of master’s and Ph.D. programs in agricultural economics. This program prepares students for exciting and challenging careers in the food and fiber agribusiness industry. Alumni have found employment with corporations such as Conagra, Gallo, Dole, IBP, Monsanto, Sunkist, Cargill, Harvest States, Coca Cola, Pepsi, Associated Grocers and other businesses and government agencies. The program emphasizes management, marketing, finance and economic principles. An agribusiness minor is also offered to complement other degree programs. Master’s students may concentrate in agribusiness, natural resource and environmental policy or agricultural economics.

School of Animal Sciences

The LSU School of Animal Sciences offers the only comprehensive animal science program in Louisiana, with research, teaching and extension responsibilities in the animal sciences. The school offer undergraduate degrees in animal science with several optional areas of concentration such as animal science, dairy production, dairy foods technology and poultry science. The school also offers training in equine science, meat science, companion animals and pre-veterinary medicine. Master’s and doctoral degrees offered through the school cover a variety of scientific disciplines such as animal nutrition, animal genomics, reproductive physiology, embryology, molecular biotechnology, metabolic physiology, functional foods, meat science and food quality assurance.

LSU School of Animal Sciences faculty members offer expertise in all major areas of animal science including beef cattle, dairy cattle, horses, poultry, small ruminants, swine and companion animals. Faculty members conduct nationally and internationally recognized research in a variety of scientific disciplines such as animal nutrition, animal genomics, reproductive physiology, embryology, molecular biotechnology, metabolic physiology, functional foods, meat science and food quality assurance in beef cattle, dairy cattle, horses, poultry, small ruminants and swine. Faculty also interact with scientists within the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, the Pennington Biomedical Research Institute and LSU AgCenter research stations across the state, which provides a vast array of research opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students.

Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering

The Textile Science, Apparel Design and Merchandising Division of the LSU College of Agriculture's School of Human Ecology offers students the opportunity to work with fabrics and fibers to create clothing and prepares them for careers in the global fashion and apparel design industry.
Photo by Eddy Perez

While the LSU Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering is a part of the LSU College of Engineering, it offers a master’s degree program in biological and agricultural engineering that is taught jointly with the College of Agriculture. Biological and agricultural engineering integrates applied biology into the fundamental principles of engineering for the purpose of designing processes and systems that influence, control or utilize biological materials and organisms for the benefit of society. The discipline applies the principles of analysis, synthesis and design to physical problems and processing systems associated with plants, animals, humans and their environments.

Department of Entomology

The LSU Department of Entomology addresses questions and concerns involving insects and related arthropods, ranging from management of pest species to assessment of insect roles in natural ecosystems.

Departmental research and teaching activities focus on three areas – integrated agricultural pest management, which includes crop, forest, veterinary and biological control entomology; urban entomology, which includes structural and medical entomology; and integrative biology, which includes systematic, physiology, toxicology, ecology and conservation biology.

The department’s curriculum is one of four that have been consolidated under the college’s curriculum in plant and soil systems. While an undergraduate major is not available, interested students may focus in entomology through concentration areas in integrated agricultural pest management or urban entomology under the plant and soil system major. The department also offers a minor in entomology. Research faculty members provide a large number of undergraduate research opportunities, including independent research projects that lead to college honors. Graduate education is offered at both the master’s and doctoral levels.

Department of Experimental Statistics

Located within the LSU College of Agriculture and the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station, the Department of Experimental Statistics is the principal source of statistical education, research and service for both the university and the LSU AgCenter. The department is unique in its strong orientation toward the application of statistics, and its faculty provide expert statistical support for the university community in diverse ways. These include teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in statistics; providing statistical consulting support to faculty and student research projects; serving on graduate committees in other departments; collaborating on interdisciplinary research projects with faculty from a wide variety of departments, schools and colleges; supervising graduate students in applied statistics; and conducting its own independent research programs, including projects funded through external grants and contracts.

The LSU College of Agriculture's School of Plant, Environmental, and Soil Sciences plays an important role in educating students on maintaining the environment through the study of agronomy, horticulture and environmental management.
Photo by Eddy Perez

The department does not offer an undergraduate degree program, but does offers an undergraduate minor in applied statistics and both thesis and non-thesis programs leading to a Master of Applied Statistics degree. These programs prepare students to apply sound statistical methodology to the solution of quantitative problems from many subject areas. An intensive orientation to statistical consulting is provided through practicum courses.

Department of Food Science

The LSU Department of Food Science delivers quality education, and provides training, consultation, and services to serve the needs of the local, national, and international food industries and consumers.

As one of the LSU AgCenter’s 11 academic departments/schools which exist in conjunction with the LSU College of Agriculture, the Department of Food Science’s dedicated faculty prepare students for success, focus their research and outreach initiatives to help the food industry flourish, and in turn, stimulate economic development. A concentration in food dcience is offered in the bachelor’s degree program for nutrition and food sciences.

The scope of the department’s work encompasses all facets of the food industry. This includes developing new food uses for Louisiana’s agricultural products, including functional foods; pioneering food safety procedures for meat, poultry and seafood; evaluating the effectiveness of various food production practices; conducting safety and quality-related analyses of food products; working closely with Louisiana’s food producers and processors, including seafood, meat, poultry, dairy, rice, sugarcane, fruits and vegetables; providing training to help the food industry meet regulatory requirements for food safety; and improving food quality to assure that only the finest Louisiana food products reach the market.

School of Human Ecology

The mission of the LSU School of Human Ecology is to prepare future professionals, conduct research, and implement service programs that will assist in solving problems and improving the quality of life for families and individuals in a complex and changing society.

The following undergraduate curricula are offered through the school – nutritional sciences (dietetics and nutritional science/premedical concentrations); child and family studies (child & family studies and early childhood administration and leadership concentrations); and textiles, apparel design, and merchandising (textile science, apparel design, and merchandising concentrations). All undergraduate programs are fully accredited by the Council for Professional Development of the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences. In addition, specialized accreditation is offered by the American Dietetic Association. Graduates are prepared to pursue professional careers in such areas as dietetics, medicine, public health, human services, cooperative extension service, business, education, research, retailing, apparel and textile industries, and international service. Master’s and doctoral degrees are also offered.

Martin F. Woodin Hall, which houses the College of Agriculture's administrative offices, was recently named in honor of the late former LSU System president and executive vice president. Woodin was also a former dean of the LSU-Alexandria College of Agriculture and former head of what is now the LSU Department of Agricultural Economics & Agribusiness.
Photo by Jim Zietz

The LSU College of Education, in collaboration with the School of Human Ecology, offers a degree program in early childhood education: PK-3 teacher certification, in which students earn an undergraduate degree from the College of Education. Students must be admitted to the College of Education and follow the admission and degree requirements established by the college for this program.

NOTE: As of July 1, 2012, selected programs that were previously part of the College of Agriculture will be moved to the university’s new College of Human Sciences & Education. This includes the child and family studies division and the college’s joint Early Childhood-PK 3 program, which were previously under the School of Human Ecology.

School of Human Resource Education and Workforce Development

The LSU School of Human Resource Education and Workforce Development offers a comprehensive curriculum designed to prepare professionals who train, educate, and lead people in developing human capital for the workplace at the local, state, national, and international levels. Faculty members develop future instructors and leaders who will be capable of meeting the challenges of tomorrow. Students enrolled at the school can be assured that they are learning from nationally recognized faculty and leading researchers in their field.

The school offers three undergraduate curriculum choices – human resource education, agricultural education and business education. The curriculum in human resource education is offered with areas of concentration in adult, extension, and international education; career development; and human resource leadership and development. The curricula for agricultural education and business education are designed to meet requirements for Louisiana teacher certification in grades 6-12. Master’s and doctoral programs also are available.

NOTE: As of July 1, 2012, selected programs that were previously part of the College of Agriculture will be moved to the university’s new College of Human Sciences & Education. This includes the School of Human Resources and Workforce Development, except for the Agriculture Education curriculum.

School of Plant, Environmental, and Soil Sciences

The LSU School of Plant, Environmental, and Soil Sciences prepares students for successful professional careers in the study of sciences related to agronomy, horticulture and environmental management. The school offers undergraduate degree programs in two curricula – environmental management systems and plant and soil systems. These curricula provide students with excellent preparation for careers in management, consulting, regulatory and public relations, or sales and services in agricultural, natural resources or environmental industries.

The college’s curriculum in plant and soil systems consolidates the undergraduate curricula for the departments of agronomy, entomology, horticulture and plant pathology and crop physiology. Students in this curriculum take core courses that provide a basic knowledge required for specialization in one of the seven areas of concentration: agricultural pest management; crop management; horticultural science; ornamental, olericulture and pomology; soil science; turf grass management; and urban entomology. Master’s and doctoral degrees are offered in the fields of agronomy and horticulture. Graduate students in agronomy concentrate their studies in soils, applied plant physiology, weed science, crop breeding and genetics or biotechnology. Graduate students in horticulture may specialize in any phase of horticulture, including breeding and genetics, propagation, physiology, mineral nutrition, weed control, plant growth and development, postharvest physiology and food processing. Laboratories and experimental farms are available for each area of specialization within the department.

Department of Plant Pathology & Crop Physiology

The LSU Department of Plant Pathology & Crop Physiology is recognized nationally and internationally for applied and basic research on economically important agricultural crops. Climactic conditions in Louisiana allow cultivation of and research on semitropical crop species such as rice, sugarcane, cotton, sweet potatoes and soybeans. Through our extension services, the department conducts research and assists Louisiana farmers in the management and control of plant disease.

The department’s undergraduate curriculum is one of four that have been consolidated under the college’s curriculum in plant and soil systems. Graduate students in the department are presented with the opportunity to work with Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station personnel, who conduct investigations in areas of plant pathology, crop physiology and plant molecular biology. Master’s and Ph.D. graduates of the department are prepared for challenging careers in agricultural research at universities, governmental and private agencies.

School of Renewable Natural Resources

The LSU School of Renewable Natural Resources offers undergraduate and graduate education to students who wish to discover the natural world and ways to improve management of renewable resources, to protect biodiversity and to promote conservation of diverse ecosystems. Courses within the school involve field and laboratory experiences with regular outdoor field trips beginning in the second year and continuing until graduation.

The department offers undergraduate degrees in two programs – forestry and natural resource ecology and management. Within these two programs, the school offers 10 areas of concentration ranging from forest management to conservation biology. The school also offers master’s degree programs in four areas of concentration – fisheries and aquaculture, forestry and forest resources, forest products, and wildlife. Additionally, a new graduate minor in interdepartmental studies in wetland ecology and restoration was also recently approved. Many of the school’s graduates move on to work for numerous state and federal natural resource agencies, non-governmental environmental organizations and other universities. Many graduates of the school go on to veterinary and graduate schools to become wildlife and fisheries biologists, environmental lawyers, foresters, park rangers, zookeepers, park and refuge managers, environmental consultants or game wardens.

Research and education

The primary mission of the LSU College of Agriculture – teaching – is an integral part of the university’s land grant responsibilities. However, the other components of the university’s agricultural land grant mission – research and service – are the primary responsibility of the LSU Agricultural Center, also known as the LSU AgCenter.

In cooperation with the LSU AgCenter, the LSU College of Agriculture offers students unique and unparalleled educational opportunities. The Louisiana Agricultural Experimental Station maintains research programs in Baton Rouge and at branch stations throughout Louisiana. The Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service disseminates knowledge throughout Louisiana through its network of specialists in Baton Rouge, as well as its county agents and family and consumer sciences experts located in each of Louisiana’s 64 parishes.

Close work between the college and the AgCenter provides for an instructional program of exceptional quality, combining knowledge and the latest in technology and application. Because many faculty members in the college also hold appointments in the AgCenter, students are exposed to the latest in cutting-edge research and how that knowledge is disseminated to the field through the extension service.

The LSU College of Agriculture and the LSU AgCenter are actively involved in disseminating new knowledge and methods throughout the world. Internationally experienced faculty and staff bring their insights and experiences into the classroom to further enhance the learning experience. An active international program provides opportunities for students to gain valuable international experience that can assist them in future employment or study. The college and the AgCenter are currently active in Central and South America, Southeast Asia, West Africa, Europe and in countries of the former Soviet Union.

Learning outside of the classroom

The LSU College of Agriculture does not only keep its education in the classroom. Numerous opportunities are available for students to obtain valuable hands-on experience in their chosen fields. The college offers its students numerous opportunities for education both in and outside of the traditional classroom. All majors offer practical, hands-on experience, to best prepare graduates for their chosen fields. Students also have access to a large variety of livestock that are used in teaching and research studies. Purebred herds of numerous breeds of cattle and dairy cows, sheep, swine, poultry and horses are maintained for research and instruction.

Facilities used by the LSU College of Agriculture for instructional purposes include more than 4,500 acres of farm and timber land and buildings for the care and study of crops and plants, livestock and poultry, and wildlife and forests. Also, the college utilizes numerous computer facilities, laboratories and related research facilities for teaching purposes.

 Among these facilities is the LSU Dairy Store, which offers students a first-hand opportunity to experience the business side of animal sciences. Located at the intersection of South Stadium and Tower Drives, the store is a popular meeting place on campus that also works as an outlet for the department’s creamery. The Dairy Store offers ice cream, cheeses and other dairy related products for purchase, all of which are made from milk supplied by the campus’ dairy farm and brought to the creamery, which serves as a manufacturing, research and teaching facility for College of Animal Science students. The Dairy Store also provides ice cream to cafeterias across campus, and its ice cream has also been sold at LSU Tiger home football games. The store also recently began selling meats such as lamb, beef, pork and goat, in addition to sandwiches and soft drinks. The store is funded by both the LSU campus and the LSU AgCenter.

The college also features a program to help first-year students majoring in its programs acclimate to living on campus as well as into their chosen field of study. The Agriculture Residential College, or ARC, is located in Blake Hall and is open to all first-year students in the LSU College of Agriculture. The program aim is “All Ag. All the Time,” and comprises three faculty-led tracks – Animal, Environment/Sustainabilty, and Food, Fitness and Fashion. By taking several core courses together, students more quickly form relationships with classmates and instructors both inside the classroom and out. By living in a “mini-campus” atmosphere within the larger LSU campus, students achieve a greater sense of awareness, cultural competence, leadership and community.

The residential college also offers programs to its students as a way to foster teamwork and community service. Among other activities and events held each semester, one of the college’s signature programs is its Animal Assisted Therapy, or AAT, program. Currently in its fourth year of operation, the program is a goal-directed intervention in which an animal — in the case of the LSU College of Agriculture’s program, a dog or cat — is used as an integral part of the medical treatment process. AAT has been used to establish a human-animal bond and promote good health and the recovery of illness and some diseases. The Agriculture Residential College’s AAT program makes regular visits to area medical facilities and nursing homes.

Another signature program of ARC is the Tour de BREADA, a round trip bike ride from Blake Hall to the downtown Baton Rouge’s Farmer’s Market. The program not only promotes exercise and healthy activity such as bike riding, but also gives students access to purchase locally grown foods and other items from the market and helps support local farmers.

Continued growth

While the scope of the LSU College of Agriculture has changed and evolved over the last 100-plus years of its existence, the commitment to agricultural production in the state of Louisiana remains the common thread that binds the college’s past and future.

In 2011, the college honored its past by officially renaming its primary classroom and office building from the Ag Administration Building to Martin D. Woodin Hall, named after the late former LSU System president and executive vice president, former dean of the LSU-Alexandria College of Agriculture and former head of what is now the LSU Department of Agricultural Economics & Agribusiness.

“Dr. Woodin was an iconic president of LSU,” Koonce said during the April naming ceremony. “He served with great distinction over many years, and his contributions to agriculture were many. Martin D. Woodin Hall is a fitting recognition of his long and successful leadership at LSU.”

To learn more about the LSU College of Agriculture, visit