Stand Up for 4-H

My Generation

A new CNN blog asks for opinions on 4-H and livestock - and the anti-meat folks are saying a lot of nasty things. Make sure CNN gets your opinion!

Published on: June 23, 2011

Ok, 4-H fans, here's a prime chance to weigh in on the value of what you believe in!

A CNN blog, eatocracy.com, is asking today whether 4-H and its livestock production lessons are bad for kids. They are asking for opinions, based on response to their earlier blog on buying local food from 4-H members. That blog generated a lot of comments that divided into two camps.

Some like this:
I don't and would never support the 4-H. This group helps desensitize youngsters into having no emotional attachment to animals raised for food. For those who say no one should have attachment to animals raised for food, I say "of course". This is how the meat industry stays in business. If children are raised to love all animals and not try to see them as products, they would not be interested in seeing them killed. "Listening to the auctioneer and seeing how excited the children get when their animal is purchased is an incredibly fulfilling experience."
Really? Incredibly fulfilling experience. You mean knowing the animal that trusted you from birth is off to be mistreated before being slaughtered! That's fulfilling? Maybe that's because the 4-H has successfully desensitized these children who may have once be appalled by this. It's simply horrific. Shame on you 4-H for what you do to animals and to children. - Heather King

And some like this:
What 4-H does do is promote responsible animal husbandry and the cultivation of food resources in a responsible, ethical way. I accept your position that any killing of animals for food is, in your position, not ethical or moral, however most of us are omnivores and I for one would rather that those producing the meat I choose to eat do so in a humane and ethical way. I respect your position, but I would also hope that you would rather see people brought up to understand, and therefore demand, that there an ethical way to treat an animal even if that animal's eventual purpose is the nourishment of a human being.
Desensitization is the wrong word–education is the right word. These kids (I was one) are not at all desensitized to the process–rather, they are educated about proper raising and care of these animals. Not only was I a member, but growing up we also purchased meat and produce from 4H and FFA members–talk about locally sourced! We could be confident in the quality, origin, and raising of these products in a way we can rarely be in a supermarket. - Value rather than desensitization.

So far, they have over 1,000 comments. Please take a moment, click here, and share your thoughts on the value of 4-H and its impact on your family and your rural community. Remember, the best advocate is respectful, tells it straight and keeps it clean. If you would, after you comment there, come back here and let us know.

Let's not let those who want to take meat off the market smear the good name of 4-H!

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  1. Susan says:

    I applaud all those who have commented in support of 4-H. It is evident from the comments that 4-H offers youth an opportunity to develop skills in a wide variety of project areas ranging from photography, robotics, and geospatial projects to food and nutrition, entrepreneurship, and video filmmaking projects. Even the opportunities for working with animals are varied as youth may choose cat care, dog care, small pet projects or to raise breeding stock in a numbers of different species; none of the animals in these situations are being raised as market animals. While 4-H teaches leadership, citizenship, independence, and helps its members make career choices, it also teaches respect, responsibility and decision making. Those are benefits of 4-H that I have not seen mentioned thus far in the comments. The youth who decide or choose to raise a market animal in any species are aware that by making that decision they are accepting the responsibility to care for that animal is such a way that the end result will be a quality meat product for those people who choose to consume meat as part of their diet. Therefore, they learn the importance of proper nutrition, veterinary care, providing shelter, and maintaining a healthy and clean environment for their market animal. 4-H members are taught to respect the views and opinions of others, even if they differ from their own. 4-H members who choose to raise a market animal realize that there are people who choose not to consume meat in their diet, who may disagree with the 4-H member’s decision to raise and care for a market animal. The 4-H members understand that those opinions exist and they respect choices that others have made. It seems mutual respect should be shown for the 4-H members’ decisions to raise market animals. To imply that market animals are not well cared for, or properly cared for simply because they will become part of the food supply, suggests that those putting forth the comments may be either misinformed or have not researched the topic completely.

  2. R. Stuart says:

    My involvement in my local 4-H club was one of the highlights of my childhood growing up in rural Illinois. At the age of 8 when I was finally able to enroll, little did I know just how much my 4-H experience would shape my life, and now my career. I learned how to respect agriculture and the importance agriculture plays in keeping food on our tables and clothes on our backs. I could on for days about the skills I gained from 4-H, but I guess the biggest take-away that I have from that organization was learning just how integral agriculture is to our lives and because of that, I will forever stand up for an organization who undoubtedly has american agriculture and youth's best interests in mind. Never once did 4-H teach me how to be desensitized about animal agriculture, but it taught me what it's like to raise a FOOD animal correctly, care for it, show it, love it, and send it off to market where it is processed for food production because after all, it's a FOOD animal. I don't think that process is inhumane, it's just common sense. I have a great respect for the animal agriculture industry and can't wait for the day when I can teach my children the same lesson. It's easy to point fingers and throw blame when we accuse without fully understanding or experiencing something. I firmly believe that if you walk "a mile in the shoes" of a 4-H'er, you will learn a lesson or two about how much 4-H means to youth and agriculture and just how important it is to the rural communities across the nation raising the next generations of farmers, ranchers and agvocates who would love to prove you wrong.

  3. H. Spangler says:

    Here's what I shared: I joined 4-H as a young person, I showed cattle, I grew up and married a farmer and we now raise cattle on a farm in Illinois. We are counting the days until our oldest child is abls to join 4-H, and so is she. In all my years, I have never been involved with an organization that cares so deeply for teaching young people and for mentoring them through scientific and vocational skills the way 4-H does. Essentially, the argument that's being played out in this comment secion is among those who believe in eating meat and those who don't, and the 4-H organization is being drug into it. Please, if you have questions about 4-H, ask a 4-H member or leader or someone who is actually involved with the organization. But don't misrepresent a an organization that is the fabric of our rural communities based on your idealogical beliefs. 4-H teaches community service, learning, public speaking, how to conduct a meeting and how to operate within a group of people in a public setting. It teaches teamwork. It teaches small engines, model rocketry, food preservation, cookie baking and animal care. It teaches hog and cattle production, livestock judging and it gives kids the chance to be successful in a non-athletic setting. And it's an activity that an entire family can participate in - how many organizations can say that? Let's keep in mind what 4-H really is: it's good for families, it's good for communities, it's good for kids.

  4. Gladys says:

    4-H is a positive program that reinforces leadership and community service to youth of the USA. My two kids, husband, and myself have all been involved in 4-H as members and leaders. To say that my kids are basically horrible for raising and caring for animals that will go into the food chain, is just jude. Obviously, American has not been hungry!

  5. 4-H says:

    Anyone that would ridicule 4-H obviously has never been apart of a 4-H program. The focus of 4-H is science, community and citizenship. The 4-H pledge states: I pledge my Head to clearer thinking, my Heart to greater loyalty, my Hands to larger service and?my Health to better living, for my club, my community, my country, and my world. This is what 4-H is about. It teaches kids to be a good citizen and give back to the community. 4-H is more than just livestock. This is a program that teaches kids about: gardening, cooking, woodworking, photography, bicycling, animal care, babysitting, visual arts and hundreds more that teach life skills.

  6. RuaCath says:

    I posted: To say that 4H is in any way negatives means you have never been involved with 4H. The program foster respects for all living things. And as far as my person experience is concerned I must concede we are only small herd dairy farmers – but we have been so for over 800 years in Ireland, on the same farm. You cannot farm and not care for the animals. To say that is very naïve. No one puts that much work into the land, sacrifices vacations, money and time to foster something they do not care about. In this country we make pets of everything, often to their detriment. Dogs are not made for baby carriages and co-sleeping in your bed. IT IS NOT IN THEIR BEST INTEREST – but people do it to fulfill some need of their own, not taking the dog’s needs into consideration. In my opinion if children are desensitized to death it’s due to the television and movies they are permitted to watch and the video games their parents are purchasing for them – not because they have raised a cow and sold it.