Judges selected for UAPB Sweet Potato Cooking Contest, Sept. 8

Will Hehemann School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Science

Four judges will determine the winning recipes at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Sweet Potato Cooking Contest, Friday, Sept. 8. The event is part of UAPB’s Agriculture Field Day, which will be held at the UAPB Agriculture Research Station on Oliver Road, off University Drive.

The cook-off will begin at 9 a.m. Judges will start evaluating the recipes at 10 a.m.

The judging panel is comprised of professional talent from around Arkansas. The lineup includes:

Pine Bluff Mayor Shirley M. Washington

Shirley Washington has served as mayor of Pine Bluff since Jan. 2017. She has been a resident of Pine Bluff for more than 35 years and has a professional background in education.

She worked 16 years as a school administrator and 16 years as a classroom teacher for the Pine Bluff School District, six years as an Upward Bound instructor at UAPB and six years as a classroom teacher for the Wabbaseka School District. She retired as Pine Bluff School District principal in 2010.

Washington completed her undergraduate studies at UAPB (formerly Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical and Normal College) and earned a master’s degree from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.

Eva Marie Pearson

Eva Marie Pearson worked at the Pine Bluff Commercial newspaper for 35 years, and spent much of that time as the editor of the “Accent” section. During her career in journalism, she received more than 300 awards for writing, editing, page design, headline writing and photography.

Her honors include being named a state “Friend of 4-H” and “Friend of Extension.” She also graduated from LeadAR, the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service’s leadership development program.

Since retiring in 2009, she has been involved in a variety of volunteer activities and has contributed to the publicity efforts of several non-profit organizations. She currently works as publicity chairman and blogger for the Arkansas Extension Homemakers Council and publicity chairman for the Salvation Army Auxiliary.

A communicant of Trinity Episcopal Church, Pearson enjoys reading, needlework and collecting elephants.

Theodis Bunch

Theodis Bunch served as the water resources outreach specialist at the National Water Management Center in Little Rock, Arkansas from 1998 until he retired in 2016. His responsibilities included providing support to the UAPB/Lonoke demonstration farm to conduct water-related technology transfer projects and implementing sustainable agricultural practices targeted toward small-scale and limited-resource farmers.

An alumnus of UAPB, Bunch began his career when he started work as a biological aide for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the National Fish Hatchery in Neosho, Missouri while completing his undergraduate studies. In 1975, he was hired as a soil conservationist in Little        River County with the Soil Conservation Service, now called the Natural Resources Conservation Services, and continued to serve as a NRCS soil conservationist for the next 13 years in Phillips and Monroe Counties.

During his tenure as soil conservationist for the South Central Water Management Center in Little Rock from 1995 to 1998, Bunch provided leadership in developing a partnership agreement for NRCS and UAPB to establish the 871-acre Lonoke Demonstration Farm.

Barbara Batiste

Barbara Batiste has served as compliance officer for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Research and Extension since 2005. In this role, she is responsible for ensuring the Division is in compliance with all employment and programmatic civil rights laws and regulations. She also serves as an affirmative action officer, freedom of information coordinator and grievance officer, and conducts workplace training in regard to harassment and diversity matters.

She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in 1993 and a Juris Doctor degree from the William H. Bowen School of Law in Little Rock in 1998. She is licensed to practice law in the state of Arkansas, the Eastern and Western Federal District Courts of Arkansas and the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Batiste resides in Jacksonville, Arkansas with her husband, Marvin Batiste. She enjoys a wide variety of sports and loves to cook with her family.

For general participation in the field day, registration begins at 7:30 a.m. with welcoming remarks at 8:30 a.m. Field tours begin at 9 a.m. with the last tour at 11 a.m.

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff offers all of its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.


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