Thirty-eight students in the fifth grade and younger spent a week in June learning how to live in the ways the early Louisianians would have circa 1800, said Steve Ramke, interpretive program specialist with the Rural Life Museum, 4560 Essen Lane.

“We had a great group of kids this year,” Ramke said.

Over the week, artisans visited the museum to teach students their crafts, which included blacksmithing, candle-making, open-hearth cooking, weaving, sausage-making and music — apprentices may take dulcimer lessons if they choose.

“Each day, they learned a different skill,” he said.

Of those who begin the program, Ramke said, the museum sees many return campers.

They learn the skills their first year, he said, and then can choose to concentrate on one area and refine those skills from year to year.

The ultimate goal is to move on to the Junior Docents Program, which begins once a student reaches sixth grade.

“We teach them about the museum, and they help us by volunteering for our events each year,” he said. “We’ve had people who have gone through the program and been hired on as a par-time worker in summers.”

It’s not only good for the museum to have the input and energy of young people, he said, it is also a good opportunity for those students to gain valuable work experience and community service they can add to their college applications and job résumés.

All the while, he said, both programs further the museum’s mission of keeping alive the skills and traditions that pre-dated mechanized America.

The Junior Docents Program is ongoing, Ramke said, with monthly meetings in August through June of each year.

For more information about either program, visit the Rural Life Museum’s website, and click on the Rural Life Museum tab, or call the museum at (225) 765-2437.