Dr. Rustum Ernest Girouard Jr. named Honoree of International Rice Festival
Dr. Rustum Ernest Girouard, Jr. better known as “Ernest”, has been chosen as Honoree of the 2017 International Rice Festival, according to Suzy Webb, festival president. This year’s festival dates are Oct. 19 through 22.
Ernest was born on March 21, 1940 to his parents, Rustum and Frances Girouard. He was the first born son followed by three sisters and three brothers. He grew up on a farm in the rural community known as Cossinade located northwest of Kaplan, where he and his wife call home.
Ernest worked on the farm with his family when he was not attending school and was very active in 4-H and FFA activities. Upon graduating from Kaplan High School he attended LSU and worked for the University Agriculture Department earning enough money to pay for most of his college expenses. He completed his Ph.D. work in July 1967 and graduated in January 1968.
In 1962 he married his high school sweetheart Alice (registered Nurse) during his last semester before completing his BS college degree. He is very thankful that Alice was able to work and for her support in putting him through college.
He then accepted an Animal Nutrition position with Allied Mills in Illinois August 1967. In 1969 he resigned, purchased some land next to his family farm and moved his wife and son to Louisiana to begin his farming career. He and Alice have 3 boys, one girl, and 7 grandchildren.
As his farming acreage increased he was elected to represent the Louisiana rice industry at the local, state, and national levels serving on the State and National Rice Council and Research boards as well as serving on various committees and leadership positions. Most notable was his leadership on the Louisiana and USA Rice Research Boards serving as Board Chairman on each Board. He was chosen to represent Louisiana Rice Producers on the U.S. Rice Foundation Board and was elected Board Chair. The Foundation Board is responsible for oversite of the Rice Leadership class and allocation of research funds at the national level. He was also selected to be the Rice Stakeholder Representative on the first National Rice Cap Research Project and was elected Chairman of the Stakeholder Committee. He directed workshops at USA Rice Annual Meetings (2002, 2003 & 2004) which provided valuable guidance on conservation planning and participation in NRCS Federal conservation programs.
He was awarded the 2012 USA Rice Federation First National Distinguished Conservation Achievement Award. The International Rice Festival awarded him the 1999 Rice Farmer of the Year. His father, Rustum E. Girouard received the same award in1971.
Cooperative Farm Credit Associations and Bank Boards have also been a long term interest and he has been instrumental in establishing Farm Credit Charters in Louisiana to provide affordable financial farm credit for farm operating loans and land purchases. The 10th Farm Credit District honored him for his many years (42) of serving the District as a Stockholder Elected Board member and officer, and Chairman of many Stockholder committees.
He also has found time to continue to serve as Chairman of his local Soil and Water Conservation District, past President the Louisiana Association of Conservation Districts (LACD); and a Board member of the National Board. In addition he currently serves as Vice-Chair of the Louisiana Soil and Water Conservation Commission. LACD awarded him the State Outstanding supervisor and the Guy Carie Memorial Award (conservation).
He has a passion for the protection of the natural resources (soil, water, animals, plants and air) which led him to support and join the Louisiana Master Farmer Program. He completed the environmental classroom education Phase 1 and Phase 2 Best Management Practices field days. Then he requested Phase 3 for USDA/NRCS to develop a Resource Management System plan for his farming operation. The plan was accepted and fully implemented allowing him to compete the requirements to become a Louisiana Certified Master Farmer.
After farming 39 years he retired and then in 2006 he was employed by the LSU AgCenter to help with conservation planning in the Louisiana Master Farmer Program (LMFP) and was later promoted to the position of Coordinator of the program. Under his guidance the program has continued to increase in participation, received State and national recognition; and is now recognized nationally as the standard for the sustainability and protection of the natural resources in a farming operation. During his employment at the LSU AgCenter he received State and National Achievement awards, and the State Extension Award for program management.
His honors and awards are numerous and recognize his many contributions to protect Louisiana’s agricultural resources and sustainability of Louisiana producers.
After 45 years of serving the people of Louisiana at the local, state, and national levels on many Rice Industry, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Farm Credit Associations and Bank Boards, Dr. Girouard, Coordinator of the Louisiana Master Farmer Program (11 years) retired on August 31, 2017.
He will be recognized Saturday evening, September 23, 2017 at the IRF Honoree Social and Queen’s Ball to be held at the Grand Opera House.