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Kevin Merrill

Kevin Merrill

After being out of town for a week on a college road trip, it was nice to come home to gentle rain falling over the area.

Our daughter Kathleen, who is a senior this year at Orcutt Academy High School, has been accepted to several colleges across the country. Last week was spring break for the kids, so we took advantage of that and planned a visit to Louisiana State University, where Kathleen was accepted into their ag school.

My wife Karen was still buried in tax returns, so Kathleen, brother Clayton and I headed out last Monday afternoon for Los Angeles to catch a Tuesday morning flight from LAX.

Our good friend Nolan Babineaux, who recently retired from the Louisiana State Farm Bureau, along with Ronnie Anderson, president of the Louisiana State Farm Bureau, offered to help set up appointments for Kathleen at LSU. Nolan offered to pick us up in New Orleans and drive us around while we were touring the area.

The kids and I met Nolan at the Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans. We headed straight for Baton Rouge, where Nolan, thanks to the Farm Bureau, had four tickets to watch the LSU baseball team play on their home field.

It was a warm, humid evening at the ballpark and by the 5th inning, dark clouds gathered over the stadium and soon heavy rain began to fall. The ground crew quickly brought out the tarp to cover the infield. We decided to call it a night and headed for our motel. LSU went on to finish the game, winning 10-1.

The next morning we met Nolan and drove to the LSU campus. As we got closer to campus we noticed how lush and green the grass was, along with beautiful old Virginia oak trees with ferns and moss hanging down from their branches along the sides of the roads. All things we associate with the deep South.

Our first meeting was with William Richardson, dean of the College of Agriculture. A soft-spoken, true gentleman who made us feel at home right away. After talking about the college and answering our questions, he gave Kathleen his personal cell phone number, offering to help her and answer any questions she may have about the school.

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Our next meeting was with Amanda Martin, director of recruitment for LSU, who gave Kathleen a warm welcome and did a great job of explaining all the programs the LSU Ag College has to offer students. It was clear that if you are enrolled in the College of Agriculture at LSU, you are part of the LSU ag family.

Lindsey Kelly was our LSU tour guide for the day, and our next stop, thanks to Ronnie Anderson from the State Farm Bureau, was a personal tour of Tiger Stadium. Lindsey took us into the entrance of the huge, 104,000-seat football stadium. We toured the entire facility and had our picture taken just yards away from the goal posts and where the famous “Eye of the Tiger” is painted before game day at mid-field.

We had a wonderful time visiting the LSU campus and enjoyed meeting the truly professional, warm people from the College of Agriculture. I’m not sure where Kathleen will ultimately decide to go to college, but after our visit to LSU last week, Dad is much more comfortable with the idea — especially knowing Nolan and our extended Farm Bureau family is close by, makes it much easier.

Next week’s college tour is Cal Poly, SLO. Stay tuned.

Kevin Merrill of Mesa Vineyard Management is a board member of the Santa Barbara County Farm Bureau, and a director on the Santa Barbara County Fair Board. He can be reached at kmerrill@mesavineyard.com

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