Arlen Benny Cenac Jr. Sponsors TARC Gumbo Booth at Annual TFAE Run for Excellence

Arlen “Benny” Cenac Jr. and the Cenac Marine Services team proudly sponsored both the Terrebonne Foundation for Excellence (TFAE) 5K run and the Terrebonne ARC Foundation food booth after the run.

On Saturday, May 9th, more than 600 runners and nearly 3,000 individuals from all over Terrebonne Parish came out for the Terrebonne Foundation Run for Excellence 5K and “the best after-party” in downtown Houma. Arlen Benny Cenac Jr., CEO of Houma business Cenac Marine Services, has long valued academia and childhood-development and was pleased to support  Terrebonne Parish public education and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. Cenac Marine sponsored a TARC booth, which served their famous chicken and sausage gumbo to guests.

The event is the primary fundraiser for the Terrebonne Foundation for Excellence (TFAE) and has raised over a million dollars in nearly two decades years for local educators to fund their programs through grants. The all-you-can-eat-and-drink after-party was the pinnacle of the day—and people came from all over to taste the delicious Cajun specialties offered by forty local vendors and dance to THE FLAMETHROWERS, the number-one party rock cover band in Louisiana.

“Since our inception, TFAE has given more than $1 million in grants to our local public-school teachers through our grant program,” said Kate Portier, the TFAE executive director. “In this current school year alone, TFAE will have funded nearly $95,000 in supplies, innovative projects, and classroom initiatives. We provide grants for new teachers and for innovative projects to engage their students.”

Grants have gone for 300 South Terrebonne High School English students to visit the Shakespeare Festival at Tulane University and see Macbeth, for Ready Reading workbooks for students at Acadian Elementary School ahead of the English Language Arts portion of the LEAP test, Houma Junior High School “Girls Who Code – Breaking Down STEM Barriers” program to purchase Chromebooks and other materials, Montegut Elementary School’s “We Are the World News Club,” where students will receive boxes each month that contain snacks, art, literature from different countries that they are studying about,

Ainsley’s Angels, a group that pairs children and adults with disabilities with a running partner at events across the nation, sent a cohort to the 2018 Run for Excellence. “They work together to enjoy the race and cross the finish line,” Portier said. “It’s a great organization that shows the power of teamwork and inclusion.” Avid philanthropist Arlen Benny Cenac Jr. has contributed thousands of dollars to charities such as the Terrebonne Association for Retarded Citizens and Make-A-Wish Foundation, and other organizations that specifically benefit individuals with special needs and children. “I am very fortunate and pleased to continue my support of regional, national, and international organizations all working to better the lives of children everywhere,” said Arlen Benny Cenac Jr., “As a local resident and business owner, I am deeply invested in the success of the region and pleased to support so many worthy causes happening and helping right here in Houma.”

Arlen Benny Cenac Jr. sponsors Terrebonne ARC gumbo booth at TFAE Run for Excellence
Arlen Benny Cenac Jr. sponsors Terrebonne ARC gumbo booth at TFAE Run for Excellence

Arlen Benny Cenac Jr., owner of Cenac Marine Services, has been a longtime supporter of TFAE and Terrebonne ARC and expressed just how grateful he is to have taken apart in such a worthy cause—and participate in an awesome day of celebration in the Houma community. “The TARC group is made up of some of the most kindhearted and giving people you will ever meet. I’m always privileged to work with them.  It was a joy and honor to know my team was able to provide them with what they needed to succeed to have a wonderful time at the TFAE Food Fest.”

Terrebonne ARC was founded in 1953 and remains a pivotal organization within the greater parish community. TARC provides innovative services, the opportunity for community inclusion and the enjoyment of a meaningful life for people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities in Terrebonne Parish. They pride themselves on promoting advocacy empowerment and full participation for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the Terrebonne Community. The organization operates a number of vocational programs and services throughout Terrebonne Parish: four Cedar Chest Thrift Boutiques and their donation sites, Bon Appetit Cafeteria, TARC’s Buy-U Beads, Cajun Confections, Houma Grown Salsa and Pepper Jelly, Bayouland Yard Crew, Krewe of TARC, Grand Designs printing company, Lagniappe Cleaning Company, and TARC Restaurant and Gift Shop. ARC offers a myriad of employment options, Options Plus (Day Habilitation), Supported Independent Living, and Personal Care Attendant services. The organization hosts an array of other programming including a day program, family support, health services, transportation services, a wellness center and gum, and arts and music therapy. To learn more about Terrebonne ARC or know of someone who may want to participate in the organization, please visit their site at

Arlen Benny Cenac Jr.: Business Owner, Philanthropist, Gumbo Lover

Benny Cenac Jr. often sponsors events around the community and regularly donates to schools and organizations within Southeastern Louisiana. A proud alum of Nicholls State University, Benny Cenac Jr. is most fond of his involvement with the Nicholls State University College of Business Advisory Board, Nicholls State University Foundation, the Bridge to Independence Program, and the Nicholls State University Culinary School.

Arlen Benny Cenac Jr. and Cenac Marine sponsors TARC gumbo booth
Arlen Benny Cenac Jr. and Cenac Marine sponsor TARC gumbo booth at TFAE Run for Excellence

Over the years, Mr. Cenac has contributed to organizations within his parish, the state of Louisiana, and dozens of other national and international causes. These include organization such as the Houma-Terrebonne NAACP, O.N.E./C.H.A.N.G.E., Terrebonne Association for Retarded Citizens, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation and Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Arlen Benny Cenac Jr. is already excited for next year’s Run For Excellence! Mr. Cenac is proud to see his small fishing town along the Intracoastal Waterway grow into an economic center and cultural landmark for future generations, and is happy to offer his continued support for the tremendous efforts by the TFAE and local education leaders, as well as the hard-working members of Terrebonne ARC, as they mold and instruct the next generation of Houma leaders.

To read more about Arlen Benny Cenac Jr.’s Philanthropic Activities see:

Benny Cenac of Houma Donates to the Oh La La Theatre Series at Nicholls State University

Benny Cenac Jr., CEO of Cenac Marine Services, Sponsors TFAE Run for Excellence

Cenac Towing and Son Rise Music Fest

Louisiana’s Top 5 Historic Homes Tours

Beignets, alligators, the French Quarter, and historic homes: these are typically what you’ll find at the top of most visitors’ Louisiana itineraries. Even if you only have a few days to explore New Orleans and beyond, the chances that you’ll end up at a plantation are pretty high.  Many of the state’s amazing antebellum homes and plantation mansions remain intact, and are meticulously maintained and furnished with beautiful period pieces. These classic homes and gardens are located all over the state, with large concentrations along the Great River Road, across south and central Louisiana, and in “Plantation Country” between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Others are located in West Feliciana Parish around the St. Francisville area, and along Bayou Teche near New Iberia.  But with all of the options–and the history, both good and bad–which of the state’s many sprawling properties should you visit? This list contains the 5 best plantations in Louisiana. Make the most of your time along the River Road and beyond as you learn about Southern history at these properties.

Why are these the best plantations in Louisiana?
Before we delve into the specifics of the list, it’s worth asking why we should focus on antebellum Southern history in the first place.  After all, it’s been over 150 years since the heyday of the Southern plantations–and they’re still some of the most popular sites to visit below the Mason-Dixon line. Why?  Maybe it’s because they’re the closest thing we’ve got to the castles of Europe. Maybe it’s because we want to remember the history of slavery so we never repeat it again. Maybe it’s because we’re still amazed that people could have that much money to own such massive parcels of land.  No matter the reason, plantations are big business in the South. The history that can be found on these plots–from the oral traditions and basketry skills of the slaves to the political machinations of the plantation owners, is amazing.

So, for each of these plantations, it is important to look at how many different stories were told at the properties:

– Was the narrative just of the typical wealthy white male owner, or were there stories of the enslaved people and the white women who lived there as well?

– Was there a balance in narrative between the antebellum period, the Reconstruction, and modern restoration?

– Was there a focus on history as well as architecture?

– And, was there something specific about this property that made it stand out from the others?

Not only are these properties well kept and beautiful, but they do an excellent job of telling more than 300 years of history alongside the modern day interpretation of what a historic property such as these should be and do.

1) Houmas House

At its peak in the late 1800s, Houmas House produced over 20 million pounds of sugar a year. Only a few decades later, the Great Depression hit and caused the family who owned it to board the place up. A new owner took over in 1940, and over renovations inside and out, he opened the house and grounds to the public in the early 1960s.  The most recent owner, Kevin Kelly, bought the property in 2003 and has expanded the plantation’s offerings to include a massive garden, restaurant, and inn.

2) Laura Plantation

Built in 1805, this Creole plantation is only one of fifteen in existence with this particular building style. This plantation was particularly interesting since it is 1) named after a woman, Laura Locoul Gore, and 2) was run by that same woman during its heyday. Most of what is known about the plantation comes from Laura’s journals.  It is rare to come across a plantation that focuses so completely on a female owner and operator, and thus, Laura Plantation is an excellent foil to the narratives that you’ll see at many other Southern plantations. The Brer Rabbit folktales were collected by Norman Marmillion, a preservationist who saw the value in recording the oral tales brought to America from Senegal by the slaves. During his time finding and recording these stories, Marmillion spent a significant time at Laura Plantation, and, because of this, the plantation is considered to be one of the birthplaces of the Brer Rabbit tales.  Additionally, the tour at Laura Plantation includes a walk through of one of the slave homes, and it is heartbreaking to see how little they were given in order to eke out a life.

3) Rosedown Plantation

From a purely architectural view, this plantation house is stunning, and it’s clear why it makes the list of best plantations in Louisiana. It’s all white clapboard and hand carved spindles and huge porches.  Agriculturally, this property is also unusual. Unlike the other plantations on this list, Rosedown’s crop of choice was cotton. The original owners’ descendants decided to sell the entire property in the mid-1900s, and an avid gardener named Catherine Fondren Underwood bought it. Underwood revitalized the gardens to their former beauty using heirloom seeds and cuttings.  Today, the property is preserved in a state park. Strangely, Rosedown has built in closets, something that was nearly unheard of during the early 1900s. Most people kept their clothes in wardrobes or trunks.

4) Oak Alley Plantation

One of the most iconic of the historic mansions along the River Road, Oak Alley continually tops lists of the best plantations in Louisiana–and for good reason.  Also a sugar plantation on River Road, Oak Alley fell into disrepair after the Civil War and passed through many hands before Andrew and Josephine Stewart bought it in 1926. Because of their restoration efforts (the first of the major restoration projects in this area), the plantation remains in the excellent condition that it is today. After Josephine died, the entire plantation went into a trust so that the property would remain open to visitors.

As a pop culture aside, there have been SO many things filmed at Oak Alley, the most well-known of which is a portion of Interview with a Vampire. More recently, Beyonce chose this plantation to shoot both her “Deja Vue” video and photo inserts for the “B’day” album.

5) Myrtles Plantation

One of the Myrtles’ main advertising tactics is to focus on the supposed hauntings. Dating from the late 1700s, Myrtles was built by “Whisky Dave”–and you know the place is exciting just because of that guy’s name. In the mid-1800s, the house exchanged hands; these new owners put in specially etched glass with crosses in it in order to ward off the evil that was in the house.  Most recently, the ghost of Chloe, a former house servant, has taken center stage with her appearance in a 1992 photograph. For those brave enough, the Myrtles Plantation also serves as bed and breakfast.


When is the Best Time of Year to Take a Plantation Tour?


It really depends on what you mean by “best”, but we’ll break it down by best weather, best prices, and least crowds. In terms of weather, you’ll find relatively warm and mild weather most of the year in Louisiana. You’ll get the best weather between the months of November and May, expect it to be warm but not too humid. June to the end of November is hurricane season, so expect rain and possible storms and rain is also common in the spring. Mosquitoes can exist in Louisiana all year, but are worse during the summer months and are generally fairly active from about March to October.

The most crowded times are around the New Orleans festivals and events, so avoid them if you are looking for smaller crowds and better hotel prices. The biggest events are the Sugar Bowl (early January), Mardi Gras (February/early March), French Quarter Fest (April), Jazz Fest (April/May), and Halloween. The months of July, August, and December tend to be the least crowded but July and August are the most humid and hot. July and August also tend to be when hotels offer their cheapest rates.

Those looking for a good balance might consider December, May, or June. During the month of December, many plantations are decorated for the Christmas holiday season.

For more info about the best Louisiana Plantation tours, click here.  For more Louisiana travel tips and info, click here.






Why does Louisiana have Parishes?

Louisiana is the only state that is separated by Parishes and not counties. But why is that? The answer is actually quite simple. Louisiana was officially Roman Catholic under both France and Spain’s rule. The boundaries dividing the territories generally coincided with church parishes. In 1807, the territorial legislature officially adopted the ecclesiastical term. Through each change in history, Louisiana never deviated and the primary civil divisions have been officially known as parishes ever since. In this article, written by, you can read more about the history of Louisiana including Colonal Louisiana, The Louisiana Purchase, and more detailed information about the 64 Louisiana Parishes.

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Mississippi River Stopping Louisiana From Coastal Restore

The Mississippi River isn’t nearly as muddy as it used to be, and that could be bad for Louisiana coastal restoration. According to a recent article written by, “A new study indicates the concentrations of sediment in the lower Mississippi River have decreased by more than half in recent decades. That’s not good for Louisiana, which depends on a constant supply of river silt, sand and mud to rebuild land on its ever-eroding, ever-sinking coast.”

Although this is devastating news for coastal restoration warriors around Louisiana, there are many who are prepared for what this new study shows. The article written by also reveals, “The Mid-Barataria and Mid-Breton diversions the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) plans to build in Plaquemines Parish would channel sediment-rich water from the Mississippi into estuaries and bays that have been starved of sediment by the river’s levee system. The two diversions, which would cost a combined $2 billion, are expected to restore marshes lost to erosion, subsidence and sea level rise.”

For more information on the coastal restoration future for Louisiana, click here.

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$1 Million Pledge for Tulane Brain Institute

The Tulane Brain Institute at Tulane University has received a generous donation of $1 Million made by the Priddy Family Foundation.  The Priddy Family Foundation was founded in 1963 by the parents of Tulane alumnus Robert Priddy, a businessman and former president of the foundation.  The donation was made specifically for the research of brain science.  Tulane says it will also fund competitive awards as incentive to faculty for research support.  Criteria for the awards would include a project’s potential to increase community awareness of the Brain Institute and help to draw financial support from other competitive national funding agencies.

The Brain Institute was established in 2016 to coordinate neuroscience endeavors at Tulane.  Scientists working at the Tulane Brain Institute are hoping to answer some of today’s most important questions about the brain and nervous system. There are discoveries being made in Tulane labs everyday and they are leading to greater understanding of and development of potential treatments for brain disorders including Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, stroke, PTSD, anxiety and depressive disorders, and developmental disorders such as autism and ADHD. The Brain Institute hopes to build on these accomplishments, invest in neuroscience research across the University, and enhance the national reputation of Tulane in the area of brain science. To learn more about the Brain Institute click here.

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Louisiana Offers Free College Courses for Teachers

The Louisiana Department of Education has recently announced they will be offering free college courses to qualifying teachers in Louisiana. They have announced that  “an application for the BESE Tuition Program for Teachers, which will allow public school teachers to enroll in courses at any regionally accredited college or university, as well as some private universities, in Louisiana at the state’s expense.”

According to the article released on the Department of Education’s website, “The application prioritizes teachers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, and those accepted to participate in the program who will be taking STEM-focused coursework will join a newly created cadre of educators called STEM Fellows, who will work with the Department and the LaSTEM Council to further STEM initiatives across the state.”

For more information and how to apply, click here.

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