Louise R. Johnson began her 4-H career in the early 1970s as a 4-H club leader. Her “volunteer career” with 4-H lasted more than 19 years, and did not end until her death in 1992. Most of her early work focused on the Community Faith in Action 4-H group which met at Rogers United Methodist Church.
As a devoted educator and community leader, Johnson saw in the 4-H club program a way to develop young people and nurture within them a lifelong love for learning.
Johnson began her first 4-H club in Manatee County in an African-American community. Her volunteer career was an inspiration to many young African-Americans and she opened doors and provided opportunities in the community. She promoted interracial harmony.
Her 4-H members participated in food and nutrition, citizenship, animal care, horticulture, agriculture, recreation, leadership, photography and parliamentary procedure projects.
She also promoted 4-H statewide through her involvement with the United Methodist Church.
While her club no longer exists today, her outreach work and efforts for nearly twenty years to help young people can still be felt throughout Manatee County’s 4-H program.
“Louise Johnson was truly a trailblazer,” said Diana Smith, Manatee County. “She opened up opportunities to African-American children and other disadvantaged youth.”
According to her daughter, Johnson truly believed in young people, and wanted for them to learn and use the life skills taught in 4-H.
She encouraged her 4-H members “To Make the Best Better” through involvement in nutrition, citizenship, animal care, horticulture, leadership and grounds improvement projects. Johnson was very active in county and district 4-H events as well as the 4-H summer camping program.
“Mrs. Johnson dearly loved teaching and 4-H was an opportunity to teach,” said Smith. The most effective teachers after all, are those whose lessons linger. She is dearly missed, but her lasting impact is deeply felt, even today.