On Saturday, February 28, LSU students and staff made a 3.5 hour trek up the Mississippi River to visit the birthplace of CenturyLink, Delta Airlines, and Duck Commander-the twin cities of Monroe and West Monroe. We began the day with a tour of the University of Louisiana at Monroe’s campus, without which the rural region would be lost financially (think $150 million impact yearly). Pausing for lunch at Fieldhouse, run by a former ULM athlete and now a huge booster of the university, we then ventured to the Biedenharn Museum and Gardens. The Biedenharns are a Monroe family who were the first in the whole WORLD to bottle Coca-Cola in the 1890s and today help to keep arts and culture alive in northeast Louisiana. The group ended the day with a pit stop at Duck Commander Headquarters, where we got a special “behind the scenes” peek at how a small business that began in a trailer 40 years ago has morphed into a multi-million dollar household name while keeping family values intact. We enjoyed our day in “Sportsman’s Paradise” exploring this small town with very big business.
Yesterday, a group of 8 enthusiastic LSU students and staff traveled to Angola, Louisiana to visit the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola (LSP). We left the main LSU campus in Baton Rouge bright and early at 7:45 am on Sunday morning and arrived at Angola Prison just before the gates opened for the Rodeo and Arts & Crafts festival at 9:00 AM. Students met with Gary Young, Media Relations for LSP where they learned more about the inmate population and the significance of the Rodeo and hobby craft sales. From there, we explored the Arts & Crafts area with a keen eye on speaking with inmates about their talents and hobbies. Students were challenged to think more globally about leadership and how leaders emerge in cultural situations. They were also challenged to consider the juxtapositions of the criminal behavior versus re-entry or rehabilitation. In the afternoon, we tried delicious festival eats like Fried Coke, slushies, catfish, hot pretzals and lemonade before meeting Wardon Burl Cain. Believe it or not, we were luck enough to be a large part of the press conference about the Rodeo! From there, we took our seats for the “Wildest Show in the South” and truly began to understand the draw of rodeo. Although it was a long, very hot day…that ended with over 3 hours of traffic…we all agreed that a wonderful time and great learning experience was had by all!
We learned what it means to LEAD Louisiana!