Editor’s Note: This is the third article in a series that will spotlight student organizations within the LSU College of Engineering.
This is biological engineering senior Camille Young’s first year serving as the president of the Biological Engineering Student Organization (BESO). Before, she served three consecutive years as the organization’s treasurer.
“So,” she chuckled. “I do know a little bit about the organization.”
The summer before Young started her studies at LSU, she toured the biological and agricultural engineering department with her father.
“During the tour, I was told about BESO and how they had different programming and social events,” she said, “and I figured it was a great way to get involved once I came to campus.”
BESO acts as the umbrella organization for all biological engineering students and currently has about 50 members. This semester the organization hosted the most incoming members in its history because of the large incoming freshmen class. They have a general body meeting once or twice a month.
“Our main mission as an organization is to provide assistance and help our members further along,” Young explained. “A lot of our students come in and have no idea what they want to do when they graduate. Some of them even change their majors from BE. We actually want to help people stick with the program because it is a growing field.”
The first general body meeting of the academic year usually focuses on what BESO does and how the organization helps fellow BE students through programming and various social events.
“We’ve had a Navy representative visit and speak with us about how to join and other opportunities within the Navy. We’ve also had the engineering librarian come and speak to us about all of the resources in the engineering library,” Young said of speakers hosted by BESO this semester.
Young explained that having speakers in different fields within the major talk to current students can help a student align the BE major with their personal goals.
“Our members and students can see what they are more attuned to by listening to our speakers that talk about what it’s like in medical school or what it is like to own their own businesses, or people currently in the agricultural field,” Young said.
The organization’s most recent meeting featured a talk with members of the student government and also covered the plans for the 34th Annual Sweet Potato and Rice sale. Another goal of BESO is to raise money each year through this sale.
The sale began in 1981 by LSU alumni Paul and Dan Garber when they noticed that the department and BESO need some extra funding. This year’s sale began Monday and will end Monday, Nov. 23.
“They started the whole sale because they realized that they need a little extra money for the club to do things,” Young explained. “So, one brother suggested to the group to sell sweet potatoes from the local farm that their dad owned.”
Garber Farms, located in Iota, has been a part of the Garber family for five generations and is currently run by Wayne, Matthew and Michael Garber. The local farm has supplied both the sweet potatoes and popcorn rice—aptly named for is aroma and light texture—every year since.
“When the sale first started, they’d only made about $500,” Young said. “Now we make several thousand dollars a year, depending on how much we sell, of course. We pay for the delivery of the produce on the front end and then host our sale. From there, we pay the farm for the actual goods and then we keep the rest of the profits for the department.”
The member of BESO who works the most hours during the Sweet Potato and Rice sale gets to attend a conference with the executive board. Any BESO member who works six or more hours during the sale gets a free T-shirt.
“I actually worked 17 hours my freshmen year at the potato sale, and I beat everyone!” Young said.
Proceeds from the sale go to the department and to some special projects within the department each year. With profits from this year’s sale, BESO hopes to update the department’s student lounge, send the BESO officers to a conference and help with the LSU Community Playground Project.
For social events, BESO plans at least one tailgate for the year. The organization tries to put together a social event each month to allow students to get to know each other outside of the academic setting. They host bowling nights, dinner outings and organize an intramural sports team.
Young said members showed interest in organizing an intramural sport other than dodgeball, which is the sport that they played during the first two years of her involvement. The BESO officers conducted online polls to choose the current sport for the semester, ultimate Frisbee.
“We go bowling together or to places like Fuzzy’s Taco shop. We once had a S’mores Night at someone’s house. We try for a social event once a month, to maintain engagement, but with meetings and school balance, it can be difficult,” Young said.
The organization primarily uses Facebook to remind members of upcoming events. They also have instituted a text message system within the organization for their current members.
“If you want to be alerted of BESO events by text, we have members sign up during the first meeting with their phone numbers. I send out a mass text the day of the meeting as a quick reminder to members,” Young explained. “It’s best for people who aren’t always on top of email or freshmen who aren’t used to checking their email all the time yet.”
In the future, Young said, she’d like to see BESO become more involved with university-wide projects.
“I’d like to have more of our members at large university events where a lot of campus organizations come out,” she said. “That and to host a big community service event, that’d be great.”
For more information or to have your student organization featured in the series, please contact communications assistant M.B. Humphrey at 225-578-5660 or firstname.lastname@example.org.