Character Counts! Head Visits State

Sarah E. Williams, Arceneaux, John W.  |  11/14/2006 3:30:14 AM

Michael Josephson, left, founder of Character Counts!, discusses the program with state Rep. Beverly Bruce, D-Mansfield, and Dr. Paul Coreil, LSU AgCenter vice chancellor and director of extension.

News Release Distributed 12/10/2003

The president of Character Counts! met recently with officials of the LSU AgCenter and others to discuss the success of the nationally known character education program in Louisiana.

Michael Josephson also met with officials from LSU’s A&M campus and State Rep. Beverly Bruce, D-Mansfield, for a full day of discussions about the status of the program.

The founder of the Joseph and Edna Josephson Institute of Ethics – which is named for his parents and headquartered in Los Angeles – applauded the strides Louisiana has made implementing the program through 4-H.

"Louisiana 4-H is a national leader in its support of Character Counts!" Josephson said during the mid-November meeting, remarking, "I am impressed about the innovative ways youth are involved as trainers and mentors."

Character Counts! is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, nonsectarian coalition of schools, communities and nonprofit organizations working to advance character education by teaching what it terms the Six Pillars of Character – trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.

"More than 3,000 Louisiana youth were trained last year to serve as instructors for younger youth," said Sarah Williams, state Character Counts! coordinator, adding, "Nearly 3,500 adults also were trained last year to teach the program. The training of youth and adults is a continuing process in the Louisiana program."

In addition, state Character Counts! educator Johnny Arceneaux said volunteers trained through the LSU AgCenter reached almost 317,000 Louisiana youth with the character education program last year.

Josephson also said he was impressed with the breadth of the Louisiana program.

"I also am impressed that you have character education coordinators in each of your 64 parishes, that you have developed diverse character education materials and that you have formed collaborations between 4-H and groups across Louisiana, he said.

Josephson thanked the character education state staff and LSU AgCenter administrators for their support and leadership in Character Counts!

Rep. Bruce, who introduced the program to the state Legislature in 1996 and has provided ongoing support, traveled from Mansfield to Baton Rouge to meet with Josephson and express her appreciation for his efforts with a framed proclamation from the Louisiana Legislature signed by Speaker of the House Charles Dewitt and Rep. Bruce. In the past seven years, the Louisiana Legislature has provided $2 million to fund the program.

"It has been wonderful to see Character Counts! grow in Louisiana," Bruce said. "It is truly making a difference in the lives of youth."

Josephson also paid a call on LSU Chancellor Mark Emmert during the Nov. 19 visit to campus – to welcome Emmert as the newest member of the Josephson Institute’s Board of Governors.

The Josephson board is composed of a diverse group of educators, ethicists and youth-service professionals who are leaders in their fields. They oversee the operation of the Institute, which is a nonprofit, nonpartisan teaching organization dedicated to improving the ethical quality of society by changing personal and organizational decision-making and behavior. The Character Counts! Coalition is a project of the institute.

Josephson also visited with LSU Athletic Director Skip Bertman and a group of coaches on how LSU could become involved in Character Counts!, the "Pursuing Victory with Honor" sports ethics initiative on a collegiate level, and as leaders and role models for K-12 school and recreational sports programs.

"Follow-up meetings are planned to pursue how this can be achieved through a collaboration among LSU, Character Counts! and Louisiana 4-H," said LSU AgCenter state 4-H leader Terril Faul.


Sarah Williams (225) 578-2196 or
Johnny Arceneaux (225) 578-2196 or
Mark Claesgens (225) 578-2939 or

Rate This Article:

Have a question or comment about the information on this page?

Innovate . Educate . Improve Lives

The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture