Morehouse Parish sent 17 youth to the LSU AgCenter's first youth field day at the AgCenter Sweet Potato Research station near Chase, La.

According to the center, approximately 200 students from 12 northeast Louisiana parishes saw drones fly and soybeans and sweet potatoes planted while also learning about soils, crops and careers in agriculture at the field day, which was held on April 29.

In an AgCenter news release, Terri Crawford, a regional coordinator who helped organize the event, spoke about the goals for the day.

"Our objective for the northeast youth field day was to expose our youth to the real world of agriculture," Crawford said, "and provide them with the opportunity to learn more about ag production, technology, research and careers."

According to Kasey Jones, the 4-H Club leader at Morehouse Magnet School, trip participants particularly loved the drone station LSU had set-up.

"I think that they most of all enjoyed seeing how the drones operated," Jones said, "They wanted to know if they ever crash the drones and were completely amazed with how they send them out and all the things they measure, test and look for."

Jones also said that students enjoyed meeting with the people from LSU and seeing the variety of people who work in agriculture at different jobs, such as soil sampling. According to Rogers Leonard, AgCenter program leader for plant and soil sciences, there is a great need for young people to go into agricultural careers.

"In the next five years, there will be a significant shortage in the number of workers in ag fields," Leonard said; "In some of those areas those shortages could be 50 to 60 percent. A career in agriculture is not just about picking cotton or chopping weeds. Science and technology drive the new agriculture today."

Morehouse Parish was represented at the field day by Katilyn Bader, Rachel Barnhill, Jacob Blondin, Paris Coleman, Trevor Cooper, Gwyneth Edwards, Matthew Floyd, Meka Floyd, Jordan Hart, Alexis Jones, Brittany Moore, Christianna Releford, Ayanna Roberts, Jaia Smith, Haley Speaks, Zackary Welch and Bailey Willis. Kasey Jones and Lauren M. Edwards, 4-H agent, coordinated the trip.

Jones said that students are already looking forward to returning next year.