BATON ROUGE — The Louisiana Agricultural Workforce Development Program (LAWDP) is excited to announce the Louisiana Ecological and Forestry (LEAF) Center at Hodges Gardens has successfully implemented a new internship through the program.
The intern, Justin Kossman, is a Natural Resources Conservation Management student at McNeese University. He officially began his internship with LEAF in April and will continue to fill the role until April 2023. Kossman is working towards a Prescribed Burn Manager certification during his internship. He has taken the required class and is now working on completing the five required burns as the supervising professional with the LEAF Center. He has also helped with invasive species control, flagging boundaries, and ground maintenance.
“On his first day, he helped our contractor perform maintenance on our Red-Cockaded Woodpecker recruitment sites, which are nesting boxes intended to naturally draw the species to the area,” said Rodney McKay, the LAEF Center’s Land Manager. “It was an awesome first day.”
The LAWDP provides businesses a monetary incentive to establish intern programs to train students for careers in the agriculture and forestry fields. Participating businesses may be reimbursed for up to 50 percent of the cost of hiring an intern. A maximum of $5,000 per internship is allowed.
“This program benefits our agriculture and forestry businesses that are struggling to find qualified individuals while simultaneously providing quality, real-life training opportunities to people pursuing careers within the agriculture and forestry sectors,” said the LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain, DVM. “These interns are the future of Louisiana agriculture and forestry. When we invest in them, we invest in Louisiana.”
The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) is currently accepting applications from qualified agricultural and forestry businesses interested in participating in the program. A qualified agricultural business includes agricultural producers or a person or legal entity who engages in agriculture or provides support activities, products, or services to an agricultural producer and such products or services that are directly related to the planting, growing, production, harvesting, or processing of Louisiana products.
Businesses may submit applications by mail. Once approved, the applicant will be required to submit an intern application to be completed by the intern or beginning farmer. Students currently enrolled at a Louisiana secondary or postsecondary institution or a young and beginning farmer or rancher employed by an agricultural business are eligible to participate in the program.
For more information on the program, call 225-922-1277. For the program application and guidelines, visit https://www.ldaf.state.la.us/louisiana-agricultural-workforce-development-program/.