Dr. Dan Fontenot’s Cooperative Extension career spanned 37 years, from 1955 to 1992. Dan started as a 4-H agent in Point Coupee Parish, became a county agent and parish chair in St. James Parish and then rose to State 4-H specialist. Under Dan’s guidance, Pointe Coupee won the first Nolan Reech award at 4-H University, which the 4-H Club continued to hold until Mr. Fontenot moved to St. James Parish, which then won that award under his leadership.
When Dan Fontenot served as 4-H agent, he was “Mr. 4-H.” The people of Pointe Coupee and St. James loved him. In Pointe Coupee, Dan and his coworker took a 4-H program from rock bottom and developed it into one of the best programs in the state. He was “King of 4‑H.”
Dan left his mark of excellence beyond Short Course (which 4-H University was then called). He increased membership, increased livestock show participation and held outstanding 4-H Achievement days, with attendance topping 1,000 people.
His 4-H Jr. Leadership program was second to none. An increased interest and participation at 4-H camps, parish activities and special programs spoke well to his efforts. His 4-H’ers went on to win regional, state and national 4‑H events and competitions.
Dr. Dan was also instrumental in introducing an annual exchange program among the parishes to meet, learn from, enjoy companionship and extend friendships with members of other parish 4-H Clubs.
When Dan moved to St. James Parish as a county agent and the parish chair, he shared his knowledge with 4-H youth through workshops and coached them for contests. He played an important role in supporting the 4-H livestock program, expanding the show to include a Sale of Champions, which raised monies that benefited 4-H members. As parish chair, Dan went the extra mile to make sure the 4-H Youth Development Program had the financial and human resources to make a positive impact.
This eventually led Dan to become a state 4-H specialist in 1982. He served many roles during that time. One was for the 4‑H Engineering and Energy-related projects and activities, including Short Course contests and 4‑H Engineering Camp. Other roles covered activities like the Talking Tractor, which was part of the 4-H Mini Farm, and the Ag Awareness event, which helps children learn about how their food is grown. He also coordinated New Orleans educational trips, which honored middle school 4‑H’ers for their 4‑H records.
The $300 Daniel Fontenot Scholarship was established in 1993 to honor Dr. Fontenot on his retirement. Some 22 4-H members across the state have been recognized through this program.
According to former 4-H leader Terril Faul, “Dr. Dan Fontenot was one of the best 4-H Agents ever.” No matter what his position within the LSU AgCenter, Dan was a dedicated supporter of and leader within the 4-H Youth Development Program. Dan never met a stranger and had friends all over the state. Everyone who knew Dr. Dan Fontenot knew 4-H was his life.