The LSU AgCenter has named Heather Kirk-Ballard as state consumer horticulturist. She started this position in February.
Besides doing a heavy amount of extension work with the general public, she is also on the faculty of School of Plant, Environmental and Soil Sciences and performs research in the school.
Kirk-Ballard comes to the AgCenter with solid work experience and a thorough horticulture research background.
Most recently, she worked for GE and Ecolab, monitoring and maintaining water quality for various industrial sites. Before that, she was a high school science teacher and worked in local plant nurseries over the years.
Kirk-Ballard will play the lead role in promoting the AgCenter Get It Growing program. Get It Growing provides horticultural outreach to the public through videos, news articles and other media.
“I’m excited about getting people interested in growing plants,” Kirk-Ballard said. “Plants are beneficial to our health and add value to our lives, work, environment and homes.”
Kirk-Ballard has a doctorate in renewable natural resources from LSU and master’s and bachelor's degrees in plant and soil systems.
While doing her graduate studies, Kirk-Ballard worked at the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden, Her work included field and container studies on the effects of planting depth and mulch application for trees, shrubs and ground covers.
She also worked for nine years as a researcher with the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, studying, among other things, the effectiveness of plant extracts in improving symptoms associated with diabetes, such as muscle atrophy, and improving insulin signaling.
For years, people in her neighborhood have asked Kirk-Ballard for advice in growing their plants, she said.
“It’s fun that they come to me for advice,” Kirk-Ballard said. “I’ve always loved helping my neighbors and friends identify plants and garden pests and helping them select plants or solve gardening problems.”
Now that Kirk-Ballard is the state consumer horticulturist, her informative advice will find an even wider audience.
Source: LSU AgCenter (Randy LaBauve)