On September 24, 1981 the state's first and only farm news program, “This Week in Louisiana Agriculture” signed on the air with CBS affiliate WAFB-TV 9 in Baton Rouge. It aired at 5:30am, immediately following the national anthem, which was preceded by the test pattern.
In a few months the 30-minute ag program, produced by the public relations department of the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation, would be on three more stations, KNOE-TV 8 in Monroe, KALB-TV 5 in Alexandria and KATC-TV 3 in Lafayette. By 1984 Shreveport station KTAL-TV 6 picked up the program, followed by KPLC-TV 7 in 1986.
Today TWILA, the creation of former Louisiana Farm Bureau Public Relations Director and TWILA Host Regnal Wallace, is seen on 18 broadcast and cable stations across Louisiana and nationally on RFD-TV. The program is one of the longest-running television programs produced in Louisiana.
Each week co-hosts Avery Davidson and Kristen Oaks-White, along with TWILA's team of producers and reporters Neil Melancon, Karl Wiggers and Monica Velasquez travel the state telling farmers' stories.
In March of 2010 TWILA was honored with its first Telly Award® for its coverage of agricultural news. Its "This Week in Your Town" program from Dothan, AL, the self-proclaimed peanut capital of the world, was voted best in category by the Telly Awards® panel of judges.
In 2011, TWILA was honored with three bronze Telly Awards® for "Katrina, 5 Years Later," "BP Oil Disaster" and its "This Week in Your Town" program from Portales, NM. The "BP Oil Spill" and "This Week in Portales" also earned TWILA platinum and gold 2011 Hermes Awards®, respectively. In 2012, TWILA received two more bronze Telly Awards® for "TWILA in Turkey" and "TWILA Celebrates 30 Years."
Over the years the show’s content has moved beyond just row crop production to include environmental, legislative and consumer issues. The program was cited recently by a member of the state’s Senate Ag Committee as a “video lesson on the importance of agriculture.”
Since 2003 the program has become international in scope. TWILA has reported on agriculture from Chile, Argentina, Brazil, China, Japan, Israel and Turkey.
Co-Host, Videographer & reporter
Avery Davidson is the Director of Information and Public Relations at the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation and co-host of This Week in Louisiana Agriculture.
For most of his career, Avery worked in broadcasting. Avery started his career at KANE AM 1240 in New Iberia and moved into television in 1995 when he went to work for KATC TV-3 in Lafayette. In 1999, Avery accepted a job at WAFB, Channel 9 in Baton Rouge where he worked as a producer, videographer, reporter and weekend anchor.
In 2008, Avery went to work for the Louisiana Farm Bureau as the Executive Producer of This Week in Louisiana Agriculture and he’s been there ever since.
Avery is married to his wife Lauren and has three sons, ages 23, 5 and 2.
Did You Know?
- Avery has seen Iron Maiden and Dream Theater in concert 17 times each.
- Avery owns 4 copies of the original Star Wars trilogy.
- Avery was on the PBS series American Masters and on 60 Minutes speaking with Don Hewitt.
Co-Host, Reporter, Videographer & Social Media Coordinator
Kristen Oaks-White is the co-host of This Week in Louisiana Agriculture and the social media coordinator for the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation.
What happens when you combine a colorful storyteller with a deep-seated passion for agriculture? Kristen Oaks-White.
Kristen grew up on a poultry and cattle farm in Calhoun, LA and showed Angus cattle for 12 years. In fact, her debut on TWILA was in June of 2004 during "Beef Month” while she was serving as the 2004 Louisiana Cattlemen's Association Queen.
From those experiences with media, she decided to pursue a degree in broadcast journalism at Louisiana State University. In 2009, Kristen graduated from LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication with a Bachelor of Arts and a minor in Agriculture Business.
Since 2010, Kristen has traveled across the state and the nation, telling the story of Louisiana’s farmers and ranchers for This Week in Louisiana Agriculture. In addition to sharing the story of agriculture with the consuming public, she’s also living the life of a “farmer’s wife” at home. Her husband, Landon, farms 10,000 acres of grain with his family on their farm in Concordia Parish.
Did You Know?
- Kristen loves to exercise her green thumb! From landscaping to vegetable gardening, she enjoys working outside in her yard.
- Kristen is an avid pro golf fan. In fact, she can probably cite more PGA facts and stats than Tiger Woods! Just ask her.
- Kristen is obsessed with rapper, Lil' Wayne. "He's a lyrical genius: a modern day Shakespeare of the rap world," she says.
Co-Executive Producer, Videographer & reporter
Neil Melancon is co-producer of This Week in Louisiana Agriculture and contributes weekly to the show as a reporter.
Neil has been with Farm Bureau since 1996 and has served in a variety of public relations functions, including webmaster, TWILA producer, writer and former general manager of the Louisiana Farm Bureau Agri-news Radio Network (LFBARN).
In 2003, Neil was the first reporter from TWILA to travel abroad for the show, reporting from Japan on the status of rice trade between the two countries. In 2005, he was recognized by the National Association of Farm Broadcasters for his efforts in covering the aftermaths of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Neil holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Louisiana Tech and a Master’s of Mass Communication from LSU. He is married to Sherry, a biologist, and they reside in Baton Rouge.
A native of New Orleans, in his spare time he practices martial arts.
Did You Know?
- Neil has three cats, Spock, Conan and Thufir, all named for sci-fi fantasy characters.
- Neil served a brief stint as a chauffeur for singer Wayne Newton.
- Neil has been to 11 countries on five different continents. He hopes to see the whole world!
Co-Executive Producer,Videographer & reporter
Karl Wiggers is a video specialist at the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation and Co-Producer for This Week in Louisiana Agriculture.
Karl grew up working on his family’s cotton farm in Northeast Louisiana. Karl’s love for agriculture comes from that upbringing, but his passion for telling the story of Louisiana farmers comes from Mike Danna, the former host of TWILA who passed away in 2015.
Karl has a Bachelor of Arts in Communications with a concentration in digital media production from the University of Louisiana at Monroe. He began working at Louisiana Farm Bureau in January of 2016.
Karl is married to Brittany, a family nurse practitioner, and they live in Baton Rouge.
Did You Know?
- Karl can rap most of the soundtrack of the Broadway hit musical, Hamilton.
- Karl plays multiple musical instruments at his church in Baton Rouge.
- Before moving to Baton Rouge, Karl was a student minister in his hometown.
- Karl loves YouTube and secretly wants to start his own vlog.
Graphics Designer, webmaster & Photographer
Monica Velasquez is the graphic designer, photographer and webmaster for the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation and This Week in Louisiana Agriculture.
Monica began her career at Louisiana Farm Bureau in 2013, the same year she graduated from from Southeastern Louisiana University with a BA in fine arts, concentrating in graphic design.
Since her early college career, Monica has been active in the graphic design community. She served on her university American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) executive committee and was a member of the International Art Honor Society Kappa Pi. Now, Monica is an active member in the Baton Rouge chapter of American Advertising Federation (AAF) and in the New Orleans chapter of AIGA.
After hours, Monica is experimenting in her kitchen, planning graphic design community events such as monthly drink and draws, and reading. Occasionally, she will find her way back to her hometown of Ponchatoula, where she spends time with family and friends.
Did You Know?
- Monica is the second youngest of her six siblings. Her brother's ages range from 40, 38, 29, and 8, and her sister is 32.
- Since early her childhood, Monica has a passion for illustration, particularly children's books. She hopes to one day illustrate and publish a book of her own.
- Monica never shies aways from her inner child, as she will tell anyone about her love of Square Enix video games, Bob's Burgers and anything Batman related.