The West Baton Rouge 4-H and Extension Services programs hope to make an impact with two recent hires, with new associate county agent Steve Borel and assistant extension agent, or 4-H agent, Elliott Scoggs.
Borel, who started his position in September, filled a vacant position left after former county agent Louis Lirette resigned to pursue a venture in St. Tammany Parish.
Borel, who has spent 28 years working with AgCenter Extension Services including the last 18 years as Pointe Coupee Parish’s 4-H agent, said that he will be doing mostly agricultural and natural resources work, clarifying that his job is to work with farmers and homeowners throughout the parish regarding their yards and ways of life.
“If they have a problem or need research or information, they can call us,” Borel said. “We’re the informational branch of the AgCenter.”
Borel has also been put in charge of West Baton Rouge’s school garden program, with gardens at Chamberlin and Cohn elementary schools, as well as Holy Family School.
He said that the extension office is looking to expand the program, placing gardens at Lukeville Upper and Brusly elementary schools for their special education classes.
Borel said that one of his goals is to continue the parish extension office’s working relationship with surrounding parishes Pointe Coupee and Iberville, and even grow the relationship further.
“The three parish area works together and does some demonstrations and has some meeting and programs together,” he said. “Coming from Pointe Coupee, I kind of know that working relationship they’ve had. I’ve helped on a lot of those programs.”
He said he plans to help train students in WBR and surrounding areas for 4-H University, yearly state and national 4-H competitions.
“When (former WBR 4-H agent) Mr. Harry Laws was here… Mr. Mark (Brassier) was in Iberville, they used to work together a lot on training the kids for 4-H University. It didn’t really matter if it came from West Baton Rouge or Pointe Coupee or Iberville,” Borel said, adding that he wants to be able to get back to the days where the best teachers are training all of the areas students. “I train Plant Science, Mr. Miles trains horticulture; we’ll work together and see what other of the agents want to do it and see if we can forget about parish lines, and get the kids trained.
“It’s worked well with our farmers, why not incorporate it with our youth also.”
Elliott Scoggs, who began his stint as assistant extension agent in August, filled a vacant position left after former extension agent Nikki Mouch resigned to pursue her teaching career at Brusly Elementary.
Scoggs, a recent LSU master’s degree graduate, said that his job focuses on 4-H youth development as he goes into schools and works 4-12 grade students throughout the parish.
He said that he is working to continue moving the WBR 4-H program forward in schools and help students realize that 4-H is more than the traditional livestock and animal showing.
“The 4-H program has just evolved so much over the years to incorporate so many different things,” Scoggs said. “We have a robotics program, we have shooting sports, sewing and fashion, then you have the traditional stuff like cooking and the livestock.
We’re just trying to incorporate as many kids as we can through the 4-H program and camps.”
Scoggs said that he plans to bring consistency and stability to the parish’s program, as the 4-H program has seen a high turnover rate in the last four years.
The hiring of Borel and Scoggs comes at a rousing time for the extension service, as the Parish Fair is set to begin November 1.
Scoggs said that aside from the carnival rides, the parish fair is essentially an open door exhibition of what the agricultural center does.
“We’ve got a huge facility here. We want people to see that tax dollars are going to work – that’s what it’s all about,” Scoggs said.
The fair will be host to the second annual Harry L. Laws Livestock Show – a competitive showing of livestock for 4-H and FFA members.
“It’s a fun show… and you win money if you win. So, you get to improve your showing skills as well,” he said.
Both Borel and Scoggs said that they have loved their time, so far, in West Baton Rouge, and look forward to working with the parish for years to come.
Scoggs noted that 4-H volunteers are always needed and welcomed.
“We’ve got so many different programs. We need volunteers to help with the fair and the show, we’ve got junior leader clubs that we do,” he said.
He said that men and women are needed to simply be a positive adult influence in children’s lives.
“They build confidence and they build self esteem through their relationship and learn how to master whatever subject they’re going to be doing,” he said.