Olivia McClure | 2/2/2017 5:05:39 PM
The rich history of 4-H is celebrated at the Louisiana 4-H Museum in Mansura, which opened in 2008 to commemorate the youth development organization’s 100-year anniversary in the state.
“The 4-H museum is a walk down memory lane for many and a place to learn more about what 4-H has to offer,” said Esther Boe, LSU AgCenter 4-H agent in Avoyelles Parish.
The museum is located in a building that also is home to LSU AgCenter and Southern University Ag Center extension offices and the Avoyelles Commission of Tourism. The location is significant because Louisiana’s first 4-H Club – originally called a Corn Club – started in 1908 at Avoyelles High School in nearby Moreauville.
V.L. Roy, the high school’s agriculture teacher, organized the club and challenged boys to grow corn as well or better than their fathers. The Corn Club concept was promoted by agricultural extension pioneer Seaman Knapp with the goal of spreading new, more effective farming practices.
Since then, 4-H has grown into the nation’s largest youth development organization, with close to 200,000 youth participating yearly in Louisiana.
It was Dwight Landreneau’s idea to start a museum documenting how 4-H evolved over time. Landreneau, an extension administrator who retired from the AgCenter in 2013, hired Roseanne St. Romain for two years to pull together the museum.
Visitors to the facility can learn about 4-H’s early history, which focused on farming and homemaking skills, and how the organization expanded and helped attract a larger audience by including topics such as photography, dog care and robotics.
Visitors can also see how 4-H has remained the same in many ways. Livestock shows and cooking contests are still popular. Summer activities like camp and 4-H University – a weeklong educational experience held at LSU previously known as Short Course – have long been the highlight of many young Louisianans’ time in 4-H.
Photos, newspaper clippings, ribbons, pins and record books from 4-H activities of yesteryear are stored at the museum.
The facility also plays host to a yearly ceremony where outstanding agents and volunteers are inducted into the Louisiana 4-H Hall of Fame.
“The 4-H museum is an important feature for the state because it allows us to cherish our past and to celebrate the success that 4-H has been for the state for more than 100 years,” Boe said. “It’s still going strong, and maybe the best is yet to come.”
The museum, located at 8592 La. Highway 1 in Mansura, is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. Arrangements can be made for small groups to visit.
Olivia McClure is an assistant communications specialist in LSU AgCenter Communications. She also took all the photos.