100 episodes

Promoting the people and rich culture of Lafayette, the gateway to South Louisiana and the region known as "Acadiana."

Discover Lafayette Jan Swift

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.8 • 32 Ratings

Promoting the people and rich culture of Lafayette, the gateway to South Louisiana and the region known as "Acadiana."

    Carencro Mayor Charlotte Stemmans Clavier – Strong Leader with Vision

    Carencro Mayor Charlotte Stemmans Clavier – Strong Leader with Vision

    Carencro Mayor Charlotte Stemmans Clavier joins Discover Lafayette to share her journey in business and politics.

    A life long resident of Carencro, Charlotte grew up in a political family. Both of her grandfathers served as police jurors for Lafayette Parish. Back in the day when political business was handled a bit more informally, and before open meeting laws, one of her granddads, Eddie Stemmans, would include her in political outings. Charlotte remembers "being the little girl sitting on an ice chest, that would go get them a beer. After watching it a little bit, I realized I wanted to do this! I've seen all sides of politics, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I always enjoyed it and knew I would run for public office."

    Pictured from left: Carencro Police Chief David Anderson, Mayor Charlotte Stemmans Clavier, along with City Council members Alfred Sinegal, Jordan Arceneaux, Danielle Caprito, Antoine Babineaux, Jr., and Taylor James.

    Charlotte graduated from Carencro High and three years later from Tulane University.  While in college, she worked as an intern for Jim Gelpi, the founder of The Alliance for Good Government. She loved the experience and it shaped her attitude in serving others at the highest level of integrity and fiscal responsibility. Studying at Tulane also shaped her and Charlotte recalled the challenging studies offered by the university with a demanding expectation that students master educational materials. With her experience of working in the family business, Stemmans, Inc. - The Horse Supply Specialists, Charlotte was used to hard work and says, "I went to work at 11, ran my first store at 12, so my idea of college was different."

    Today, Charlotte is President of Stemmans, located on Gloria Switch Road, and responsible for the day to day operations of this iconic, family-owned store, originally opened in 1968 as a tack shop by her parents, Don and Janet Stemmans. She has worked in the business for 35 years.

    Growing up in the horse industry has shaped Charlotte's life; she gives back to the industry by currently serving as Vice President of Louisiana Horsemen's Benevolent & Protective Association, which represents all racehorse owners and riders in the state. While Charlotte hasn't ridden a horse in years, she is the proud owner of racehorses and at our interview was looking forward to Evangeline Downs opening night on April 5, 2024.

    Charlotte served as mayor pro tempore of Carencro from 1999 until 2003, during the tenure of former Mayor Tommy Angelle. She was elected mayor in November 2022.

    "I love, love, love what I do. It's the perfect job for me. I have a great group of people that work with me. Carencro is a community on the grow. We're a blessed town. Many people are moving in, moving north, due to high insurance rates. There are 1400 homes in active development in the City of Carencro."

    With its rapid growth, there are many infrastructure needs to be addressed such as sewer plants, replacing old gas and water lines. Charlotte is also advocating for a new light to be installed by DOTD at the busy intersection of Ira and University Avenue.

    "I am proud to announce that we are beginning the next phase of replacing our old water lines and moving one step closer to Carencro's occasional brown water issues becoming a thing of the past. Thank you to our fantastic Water and Sewer Department and Fenstermaker and Associates for moving our city forward with top-tier water infrastructure." - Mayor Charlotte ClavierPosted by City of Carencro Government on Tuesday, April 2, 2024

    News of the $8.9 million Louisiana Avenue extension from Butcher Switch Road to Gloria Switch Road,

    • 41 min
    Louisiana Swamp Base – A National Treasure

    Louisiana Swamp Base – A National Treasure

    The beautiful Louisiana Swamp Base, a national conservation and high adventure recreation program created by the Evangeline Area Council, Boy Scouts of America in 2010, is our focus this episode.

    Swamp Base aims to immerse thousands of young people in the environment and culture of the 1.4 million acre Atchafalaya Swamp each year. It is open to the general public for all kinds of activities, including ecotourism events for travelers, and the program also partners with universities across the U. S. to expand curriculum offerings.  

    Jason Sikora, of RADER studios, recorded this interview with host, Jan Swift, along with Swamp Base Executive Director Ben Pierce, and Gina Beckman, Program Director.

    The Atchafalaya is home to hundreds of species of birds, mammals and reptiles. People who visit from across the U. S have many preconceived notions about what it means to live in Louisiana, and Ben Pierce and his team savor the opportunity to change minds and hearts.


    Each summer, Swamp Base's high adventure treks offer 6 day/6 night paddling trips through the Atchafalaya Swamp, covering 61.6 miles. Modeled from the Boy Scouts of America’s four National High Adventure camps and bases (Philmont Scout Ranch, Northern Tier, the Florida Sea Base, and the Summit Bechtel Reserve), Swamp Base offers a premier camping and paddling adventure opportunity for youth serving organizations from across America.

    A group of Scouts and registered adult leaders attending Swamp Base are called a "Trek Crew." Each Trek Crew consists of registered Scouts in the Boy Scouts of America or other accepted youth serving organization, including a minimum of two registered adult leaders. Swamp Base daily starts two Trek Crews on their high adventure journey from June 6 - July 15. Each Trek Crew consists of 8 to 11 people, which includes a minimum of 2 adult leaders. With two crews starting daily, a Scout unit can bring 16 to 22 people on a high adventure trek. The cost are $795 per person, or with a larger group. $745 per person. Hotel stays for the first night and last night are provided (in Lafayette) and all meals are covered. Visit https://www.swampbasebsa.org/trek-1-itinerary for more information.

    Ben Pierce is a founding member and co-creator of Louisiana Swamp Base and originally established the program as a conservation-based activity during the Evangeline Area Council's Centennial of Scouting celebrations in 2010. He has led the development and growth of the program as an accredited and official BSA high adventure base since 2013. Passionate about his work, Ben enjoys paddling whenever he can and finds refuge in the beautiful Cypress-filled Atchafalaya Basin. He graduated from LSU in landscape architecture and left Louisiana afterward. "I fell in love with Louisiana after I left. You don't know what you're missing until you're gone. When I had a chance to return in 2009-10 and have a chance to learn how to celebrate our local landscape and culture, it had become important to me. When I came back, I knew I had to leave a lasting legacy."

    Gina Beckman was introduced to Swamp Base in 2016 when she served as a summer trek guide, and returned to the program in 2022 as the organization's Program Director. In this role, she develops and implements trek activities that align with the mission of the organization while also making sure learning and having fun are at their cores. Gina is the recipient of the Girl Scout Gold Award, Venturing Silver Award, and Sea Scout Quartermaster Award.

    • 42 min
    Randy Daniel – Restaurateur, Partner in OMW Restaurant Holdings

    Randy Daniel – Restaurateur, Partner in OMW Restaurant Holdings

    Randy Daniel joins Discover Lafayette to discuss his career in the restaurant business, an endeavor he has loved since his first gig at 14 years old working in catering services.

    Randy is a principal partner in OMW Restaurant Holdings, the owner and operator of La Pizzeria, as well as Kat Daddy wings, a delivery-only restaurant. OMW is the operating partner of Mercy Kitchen, Palmyre, and BJ's Pizza House. Each restaurant offers a unique culture and cuisine.

    Service as a board member for the Louisiana Restaurant Association, as well as being President of its local Acadiana Chapter the past four years, has given Randy greater insight to the common struggles restaurant owners face. He says, "It is a daily struggle to make money throughout the state of Louisiana. The average restaurant makes about one cent on each dollar of sales, although of course there are some who do much better."

    Prices have skyrocketed with inflation and post-COVID market forces. The industry has seen a 20% increase in food costs, a 30% increase in labor costs, and insurance premiums have gone through the roof. Even if a restaurant's sales increase, the business may not see a profit. Also, Randy says, "We've gone from a cash society to a credit card society, which increases the cost of doing business. I'm personally dead set against the customer having to cover that. You bake it into the cake. There are restaurant owners trying to figure out how to pass it on. If you have a restaurant with $1 million in sales, you're paying about $40,000 in processing fees a year."

    "I always used to have a mathematical formula to figure out how much to charge for a dish. That multiplier doesn't work anymore. Not because the math is off, but because customers aren't willing to pay what it costs to cover the actual cost of the dish. A restaurant's number one competitor is grocery stores, because customers aren't willing to spend." Photo by Scott Clause of the Advertiser.

    Randy brings years of experience to OMW Restaurant Holdings, having served as director of operations for Double R Restaurant Group (former owners of Romacelli, POUR and Another Broken Egg locations), as well as 18 years with the Outback Steakhouse group. Through his work with Double R Restaurant group, he worked closely with Stuart Ottinger. When Double R decided to dissolve, Randy and Stuart first operated their own restaurants before joining forces to bring unique concepts to Lafayette. Today, Stuart Ottinger, through his company, OPG, is the controlling owner of Mercy Kitchen and Palmyre restaurants; OMW is the Operating Partner. Randy credited Colleen Ottinger, Stuart Ottinger's wife, for her incredible sense of style in creating the beautiful interiors of Mercy Kitchen and Palmyre.

    Recounting his much-anticipated opening of La Pizzeria in February 2020: "I was in D. C. meeting with U. S. Rep. Mike Johnson in March 2020 and learned that the government would be shutting down on March 13. That was the most fortunate I've ever been in a meeting. I was able to fly home, sit down with my managers, and come up with a plan. I had to say, 'We all have two choices; we can work seven days a week, stay open and keep as many hourly staff as we can, or we can close our doors.' We didn't know yet about PPE. To their credit, our managers said, 'Let's do it!" And, the restaurant survived.

    La Pizzeria baked Apple Brie

    The Acadian Pizza at La Pizzeria

    Kat Daddy Wings, a "ghost kitchen," was a result of COVID. Kat Daddy Wings sells prepared food for delivery only. It was one of the first ghost kitchens in Lafayette. With a mainly fried food menu, it was developed initially as a way for OMW to stay...

    • 1 hr 1 min
    Chad Landreneau – Animal Findr App

    Chad Landreneau – Animal Findr App

    Chad Landreneau, developer of the app, AnimalFindr, joined Discover Lafayette to discuss his mission to connect breeders, buyers, and sellers of livestock such as cattle and horses, as well as family pets. Animal Findr is available on the Apple App store and Google Play.

    Animal Findr connects buyers and sellers across the nation for any and every pet enthusiast. As Chad's website says, "Whether you are looking for a Catahoula, a calico, a cobra or a cockatiel," you can search on the go as you travel. Buyers and sellers can communicate about a potential sale in real time.

    The app uses GPS geolocation, geofencing, and real-time motion tracking technology, which allows you to find the animal of your dreams within a 500-mile radius of your location, across the U.S. The app is free, unless you want to subscribe so as to have access to breeding records, registration papers, or the extended family tree of the animal. Subscriptions run from $19.99 monthly to $97.99 for a six-month period.

    Chad grew up in Mamou, part of a third-generation farming family. He had a couple of horses while growing up, as well as farm animals, so he was always comfortable around animals. A graduate of McNeese State University, Chad worked on a Western Pleasure Horse farm while in college and enjoyed the experience.

    When he moved back to Lafayette after a stint working in Dallas, he came across a horse trainer who convinced him to buy a horse and give racing a whirl. Chad says, "I got bit by the bug. First we traveled to races in South Louisiana, then across Louisiana."

    It was during that time that he spent many weekends in the stands waiting for a race with his horse to occur and he had plenty of time to notice the behavior of other people sitting around him. "You only compete for a couple of minutes when your horse races. The rest of the time you just sit in the stands. I noticed that everyone's heads were down. I walked through the venue and saw that everyone was scrolling on their phone or an IPad. They were looking for their 'winner'. I wondered how I could effectively connect people who want to buy animals with those who want to sell."

    When he searched online for horses, he found sites that sell the animals by discipline, such as Barrel Racers, Race Horses, or Western Pleasure. But no sites just listing horses of all backgrounds. "I wanted a one-stop shop where all horses, as well as cattle, dogs, cats, sheep, birds, or exotic animals could be bought and sold.

    So, Chad created an app where users can post in real time and find their desired animal. "If I get in a truck and drive down the road for 3,000 miles, I wanted something that had the GPS technology that would reload other opportunities to buy or sell animals depending on where I was located in the country. I wanted people to find animals for sale outside of their usual territory of where they lived, as they might be traveling for horse shows or vacations. And I wanted instant messaging so if you see something you like, you can connect with the owner. It's a way to truly connect buyers and sellers in real time, on the go."

    In October 2023, Chad launched Animal Findr and the app was recently updated in February 2024. "I wanted to make sure the app works, and is rock solid in all capacities, in Android and Apple before we did the hard push. Now we have hundreds of users....buyers and sellers."

    Animal Findr connects the buyer and seller, but is not involved in the actual exchange of the animal or the payment. The customers handle the actual purchase and no money is made by Animal Findr off the sale.

    • 50 min
    Brennan Robideaux – Local Film Director Coming into International Prominence with “Born to Fly”

    Brennan Robideaux – Local Film Director Coming into International Prominence with “Born to Fly”

    Lafayette native Brennan Robideaux. recently made big news with the release of his film, Born to Fly, a feature documentary about another Lafayette native, pole vaulter  Armand “Mondo” Duplantis.

    Born to Fly is a coming-of-age tale about one of the greatest athletes of our generation. Mondo Duplantis is the best pole vaulter in history; he currently holds the world record indoor and outdoor pole vault titles, and won a Gold Medal at the 2020 Summer Olympics.

    This story is about love of craft and the determination of Brennan Robideaux, a young filmmaker who risked everything to capture an evolving story. He traveled on his own dime for much of the filming of Born to Fly, was taken under the wing of the Duplantis family as they allowed him to travel with them to Europe to capture their son's pole vaulting competitions, and only came to acquire financial assistance after several years of filming, directing, and editing the footage that would become an historical documentary, Born to Fly.

    Brennan Robideaux says, "I'm very passionate about telling Louisiana stories. My main one I'm working on now is the 1991 gubernatorial election with Edwin Edwards and David Duke. That historical story hasn't been delved into and my generation, frankly, was born after it. We have no idea about this election. I want to make a film that tells how we got to that point. Louisiana loves emperesque dictators. We love eccentricities in Louisiana."

    Brennan started getting jobs while in high school at STM by filming local athletics. He realized he could make a living in film, and enjoyed taping live events for television. He moved up, becoming a camera operator, filming football games from a perch 40 feet high in the end zone for hours at a time. Brennan loved working with adults while still a youngster and joked that he earned the nickname "Two Cents," probably due to sharing his opinion on how things should be done a few too many times!

    He counts his blessings that by the time he became serious about cinematography, the quality of digital cameras mimicked what you would expect to see from a true film camera. The cost barriers were lower. Traditional film such as used by director Quentin Tarantino are cost-prohibitive for emerging filmmakers operating on a budget.

    A short film, "A Riehl Blacksmith," featuring Sam Riehl, another STM student who was the youngest professional operating as a blacksmith in Louisiana and America, was a breakthrough accomplishment for Brennan. He says, "This short film really taught me how to tell a story in a short period of time." The short won a few awards: Filmconvert (a New Zealand filmmaker software company) awarded Brennan an honor for filming, editing, and directing, and Soul Pancake, a company founded by Rainn Wilson (of "The Office" fame) licensed the short and put it on its YouTube channel. It was enough to excite Brennan to look at this avocation as a career. And, he was only a Senior in high school.

    Brennan was invited to attend NFFTY (National Film Festival for Talented Youth) in Seattle due to the success of A Riehl Blacksmith. While he wasn't able to attend, it was the only film festival he made it into until Born To Fly.


    Brennan attended UNO for a short time but dropped out to pursue his passion of filmmaking. By the time he was 21, he was back in Lafayette living with his parents and looking for a project to energize him once more.

    That motivational project came to life in 2017 after Brennan read a story in the Daily Advertiser about a Lafayette High student named Mondo Duplantis, the world junior record holder in pole vaulting.

    • 1 hr 17 min
    Travis Schugg – VieMed Healthcare Staffing

    Travis Schugg – VieMed Healthcare Staffing

    Travis Schugg, Vice President of Staffing Services at VieMed Healthcare Staffing ("VHS"), joins Discover Lafayette to share how VHS utilizes technology to meet the burgeoning staffing needs across all healthcare specialties in the U. S. He is responsibile for steering the company's long-term strategic direction and day-to-day operations. 

    Travis moved to Lafayette in 2021 to join VHS after a meeting in Phoenix with VieMed founder, Casey Hoyt. The challenges of recruiting and retaining staff during COVID were issues everyone was trying to figure out, when all of a sudden you couldn't go into people's homes to care for their medical needs. Travis says that respiratory therapists and ICU nurses were the hottest commodities out there at that time. The two men picked each other's brains on this topic: Travis had fifteen years experience in recruiting, and Casey, along with Michael Moore and the VieMed team, were building the best in class respiratory therapy in the U. S. "Over the course of our thirty minute meeting, it became a chess match as to who could pick each other's brain best!"

    A few weeks after that initial encounter, Travis reached out to Casey Hoyt and jokingly said, "I think I can do some damage with you!" Casey asked him to create a business plan for VieMed to get into the medical healthcare staffing arena. Travis came up with a 50-page business plan and they were off to creating VHS.

    VHS is a complementary service for VieMed. Historically, healthcare systems, government agencies, and organizations like VieMed would recruit through their Human Resource departments, posting a job and hoping people would apply. "We flipped the script. Recruitment should be more on the offensive, it should be outbound. We promote our brand....we don't just sit and wait for people to apply."

    VHS started out by visiting every hospital in Louisiana and telling their story. Then they spread across the Gulf Region. Today, just a bit over two short years after inception, VHS recruits for positions open in Massachusetts, Ohio, Vermont, Washington, Colorado, Arizona, North Carolina, and other places across the U. S. VHS has staff in 15 states, and is building organically. Travis believes that VHS offers the best recruitment and workforce team anywhere between Dallas and Atlanta, South of Nashville, being based right here in Lafayette LA.

    The main specialties in which VHS currently recruits are in nursing, social workers (public and private sector), respiratory therapy, and physicians. VHS also recruits in the allied care fields for workers in pharmacy, imaging and lab techs. They serve employers needing assistance with locum tenens and correctional health positions.There are currently 2400 jobs and when you visit https://jobs.viemedstaffing.com/, you will see an incredible listing of jobs available.

    Staffing is a $170 billion industry and healthcare staffing accounts for $44-45 billion of that number. It is a unique niche that has been waiting to be met. VHS is growing as it helps their clients, both practitioners and health facilities, by getting to understand their clients' needs. The "why" behind a hiring allows VHS to recruit more successfully and meet the individual needs of each client.

    Travis explained that the health industry has changed dramatically regarding outside contract help. Fifteen years ago, people wanted a hospital with very few contract workers. The barrier has broken down and this mindset has flipped. Studies show that institutions with a more diverse workforce have better health outcomes for their patients. The contract workers have experienced more, worked in different settings across the country, and bring a plethora of skills to the job setting. Today,

    • 45 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
32 Ratings

32 Ratings

Beau ma Beau ,

Eyes Wide Open during and after each episode

What a treasure to find! I’m more aware of the community I live and work in. I’m more connected to people, organizations, and missions I’d never known about unless I had run across this well produced, inviting informative, not to mention entertaining program! Simply blessed this talent is right here where I raise my children. :) Lafayette/Acadiana proud

Gwenniegirl57 ,

A Pleasure!

I enjoy the variety of guests and topics featured in this podcast. Jan’s interviewing style is very comfortable. I think this is what helps make her interviewees feel at ease. The bonus is that we get to learn a little bit about our talented locals and the community.

oilbuyer2002 ,


Love Jan work

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