President Donald Trump has named Carrie Castille as the new, permanent director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. She will begin her role as NIFA director on Monday, January 4, 2021, and will be the first female NIFA director in a non-acting role.
“Dr. Castille is a trusted leader in economic development and public policy and has more than 20 years’ experience in the agricultural sector. Her passion for agricultural research, teaching and extension will enable NIFA to continue its transformation as a premier science agency,” says U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “She will bring strong leadership to NIFA as they continue to build and strengthen partnerships with our public land-grant universities and agricultural institutions across the nation.”
Parag Chitnis , who was named acting director of NIFA in July 2020, notes in a notice to stakeholders that “Dr. Castille has a wide range of experience with the agency as a NIFA stakeholder, a faculty member at a partner land-grant university, as a USDA colleague, and as a leader in both the Vilsack and Perdue USDA administrations. Having worked with NIFA in so many different aspects gives her a unique view of the organization and the customers we serve.”
Castille served as assistant professor and agriculture and natural resource leader at Louisiana State University prior to serving as associate commissioner and senior adviser to the commissioner for the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. In 2017, she joined USDA as state director for Louisiana Rural Development, and in 2019 was named as the mid-south (Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri) coordinator for USDA’s Farm Production and Conservation mission area.
Castille was appointed by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to the National Agriculture Research, Extension, Education, and Economics advisory board from 2010 – 2017. During this period, she served as chair of the NAREEE board, and also contributed to many organizations, including the American Public and Land Grant University (APLU) Council on Agriculture Research, Extension, and Teaching.
During her tenure at USDA, Castille received the Secretary’s Award of Excellence (2003) and the Secretary’s Award for Excellence in Rural Development (2018). In 2017, she was the first female inducted into the University of Louisiana Lafayette College of Engineering Hall of Distinction.
She holds a Ph.D. in Renewable Natural Resources (with emphasis on environmental and public policy) from Louisiana State University, an M.S. degree in Environmental Studies from Louisiana State University, and a B.S. degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
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