Category: Featured, Healthy Communities, Living Well-Ahead, WellSpot Designation, Worksites and Retailers

Meditation Mondays. Workout Wednesdays. Food for the Soul Fridays.

A group of woman sit on yoga mats outside under a wooden roof
As part of daily meetings, employees at the LSU AgCenter Northeast Region make it a point to set aside some time for short, easy workouts and basic exercises.

At the LSU AgCenter Northeast Region in Winnsboro, on these days—and really, on any given day—you’ll find employees with yoga mats and kettlebells or working in their offices behind standing desks. As Quincy Vidrine, Family & Consumer Sciences Regional Coordinator for Nutrition Programs in the Northeast Region, says, the LSU AgCenter has a renewed focus on employee health and wellness.

Health and wellness are certainly not foreign terms to the employees of the LSU AgCenter. In fact, when it comes to improving the health and well-being of residents across Louisiana, few stakeholders are as valuable to this mission as the LSU AgCenter. The research-driven organization, a campus within the LSU system, has been educating communities on the importance of nutrition and healthy eating since 1971. Today, the LSU AgCenter has 15 research stations across the state and extension offices in all 64 parishes.

The Northeast Region office serves a 12-parish area in the upper part of the state, from Union Parish south to Concordia Parish and dozens of small, rural communities in between. Over the years, thousands of residents have benefitted from community programs focused on healthy eating, proper nutrition and exercise.

A woman holds her hands to her chest and breathes

“Contributing to the health and well-being of Louisiana residents has always been the goal of the LSU AgCenter nutrition education program,” Quincy said. “We know that helping people eat healthier, lose weight and exercise more goes a long way toward disease prevention and intervention—especially here in Region 8.”

Earlier this year, Quincy and her colleague Cathy Agan, an Area Nutrition Agent in Ouachita Parish, came to an important realization when it came to their health and the health of their colleagues. At the LSU AgCenter, like in many other community health-focused organizations, those providing education and guidance often overlook the importance of caring for themselves.

“Many of us at the LSU AgCenter Northeast Region drive long distances on a daily basis in order to get to work,” Cathy said. “Then, when we get to work, we often sit hours on end at our desks. We knew that if we wanted to really educate the community around us, we needed to set a great example. It was time for a much-needed change.”

As designated WellSpots since 2015 and recipient of a Well-Ahead Louisiana’s worksite wellness mini-grant that assists WellSpots in worksite wellness programming, the LSU AgCenter Northeast Region had the funding and planning support to implement healthy changes within the workplace. Thanks to the mini-grant award, all 16 of the LSU AgCenter’s Northeast Region WellSpots were able to move up to Level 1 WellSpots, the highest WellSpot designation. These worksites promote healthy eating, tobacco-free living and wellness programs that keep employees moving.

A group of women pose with their hands together and smile for a photo

Quincy and Cathy started Meditation Mondays, Workout Wednesdays and Food for the Soul Fridays. They provided team members with equipment like yoga mats, kettlebells and standing desks. As part of daily meetings, they make it a point to set aside some time for short, easy workouts and basic exercises.

The key to their success has been the fun and fellowship they’ve experienced in doing these things together. A team favorite is cardio drumming, which combines aerobic exercise with drumming movements.

“All you need is an exercise ball, two sticks and a willingness to move to the beat,” Quincy said. “It’s easy, inexpensive and a whole lot of fun!”

While the LSU AgCenter Northeast Region is the first center to implement a worksite wellness program, Quincy and Cathy hope their colleagues across the state will soon follow suit.

“If we want to be successful in improving the health of Louisiana, it starts with each and every one of us,” Quincy said. “I encourage every workplace to consider implementing their own worksite wellness program.”

Ready to Bring Wellness to Your Workplace?

If your organization is interested in becoming a WellSpot and starting a worksite wellness program, Well-Ahead Louisiana can provide you with information and resources.