4-H is Evil and Bad for Kids


Recently, CNN shared this link. (NOTE: This blog post is in response to the first comment featured in the article. I recognize that the other portions of the article praise 4-H.) The gist of the article is that children who are involved in 4-H are desensitized to the killing of animals, without much other educational value. Apparently, 4-H is a scourge upon the Earth and a source of concern for urbanites who have a conditional dislike for food. (Of course, those who support 4-H would say that it prepares children for the important, and sometimes unpleasant, task of producing food for the other 98% of the population. But hey, what do they know?)

These rabbits were part of my 4-H project. Innocent learning experience, or pathway to barbaric beliefs?

16 years old and I had no idea what 4-H would turn me into.

As a former 4-H member, I can see why it would be considered wrong. I mean, I was completely submersed in the horrors of 4-H. I spent years in deep among this corrupt organization. I was a community and county officer, and participated in livestock shows and auctions. If anyone knows the dangers of exposing children to 4-H, it’s me. I mean, listen to their slogan, it just positively reeks of evil: “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…and to make the best better!”

And if having a catchy slogan wasn’t bad enough, 4-H actually gives children real-world, hands on experience in areas pertaining to their careers. How dare an organization take of the responsibility of providing children with skills and confidence to make their lives more productive? It’s blasphemy. As if all of that wasn’t enough to constitute 4-H as being “wrong,” I’ll write you a list. A list of all the ways that 4-H single-handedly ruined my life.

  1. I actually had to learn how to be organized. Organized. Can you believe that? Who would expect that out of a child? And why would I possibly want that life skill in my repertoire?
  2. I had to talk in front of people. As if expecting a child to be well-spoken, articulate, and confident wasn’t enough…it actually played a role in conquering my stutter. And that speech impediment was a part of me, how dare 4-H help me overcome a quality that I should have been proud of!
  3. I was expected to get up early during special times of the year. You see, I was blindly-devoted enough to 4-H to help run the food kiosk during the county fair. (I thought I was helping kids, rather than dooming them to a barbaric existence.) During the fair, I was up at 4 or so every morning, to help make sure that the food stand was in proper condition. Then I had to work breakfast. And occasionally had to come back for the supper shift.
  4. I received college scholarships from 4-H directly, and received more because of my involvement. Apparently, 4-H wanted me to become educated, to better-equip me for spreading my heathenish views on agriculture. And that must mean that the organizations and companies who funded the other scholarships I received (based on community service) are either hoodwinked or evil!

If it weren’t for 4-H, I would have never been asked to do these sort of speaking engagements.

All sarcasm aside, 4-H played a huge role in my life. That list above has valid points mixed in with the cynicisms; 4-H helped me to become an articulate, well-spoken, organized, adaptable young woman I am today. In fact, I feel like now is a good time to introduce a more sincere, heart-felt list.
  1. 4-H sets high standards of care for the animals that are exhibited in its shows. It gave participants a good, solid motivation for practicing the best animal care that they could. It also encouraged the young agriculturalists to educate themselves more on things like animal and crop genetics.
  2. 4-H not only allowed me to pursue my agricultural interests, but also encouraged my artistic development as well. You see, 4-H isn’t just a “farming” organization. The idea is to give kids a productive (and somewhat competitive) outlet for their interests. In addition to raising rabbits for 4-H shows, I also competed in painting, drawing, and computer-generated art, as well as cooking and woodworking. I won state titles in computer-generated art through 4-H, and because of that I knew I wanted to work in digital arts and communication as an adult. 4-H helped me pick my college, major, and career.
  3. Because of 4-H, I have a deeper appreciation for the value of individualism. Because 4-H is a very mixed group, you have kids from both urban and rural backgrounds, farmers and non-farmers alike. Not everyone that I knew in 4-H was “like me,” they didn’t all wear boots and spend their weekends shoveling poop or riding in tractors. It gave me a healthy, companionable atmosphere in which to interact with people who had different views and interests than my own.
  4. I learned how to properly run a (small) business. You see, in order to compete in 4-H agricultural contests (at least in Illinois), you have to have business records that are audited at the end of the 4-H year. If your records are incorrect or poorly kept, you miss out on the chance to win awards and prizes. It was a simple incentive to encourage proper book keeping, financial responsibility, and husbandry practices in young producers.
  5. I have always had self-esteem issues, and still do to this day. My work and successes in 4-H were vital in helping me build up my confidence. Without the personal milestones I reached because of 4-H, I might not have been able to adapt to college or develop a strong foundation to my ever-evolving career. (And I should note, this confidence wasn’t built through the modern-day “everyone’s a winner” mentality. It was built through hard work, earned achievements, and long hours.)
  6. Someone has to be equipped for the difficult, daunting, and sometimes-unpleasant task of producing agricultural goods for our country (and the rest of the world). Raising animals for food is fulfilling, but definitely has its hard spots. 4-H allows children to learn about these necessities and processes; it does not desensitize them to it all. If anything, it fosters a deeper understanding and appreciation for the hard work, care, and attention to detail that it takes to raise animals for sustenance.

Look at that smile; that is the smile of someone whose hard work paid off. That was seconds after I received my trophy for Senior Showmanship in rabbits. It was my last ever 4-H show. I also won Best of Show for a Havana doe and multiple Best of Breeds.

4-H is not perfect, and in many ways it is incredibly misunderstood. However, to claim that the only major impact it has is the creation of barbaric, kill-happy citizens is ludicrous. I would not be who I am today without 4-H. I’m not perfect, and in many ways I am misunderstood. Yet, looking at myself and everything I have survived and achieved in my 21 years, I’m doing pretty alright. I’m happy with the person I’ve become with time, and 4-H is a major piece of that puzzle.

Were you a part of 4-H? How did 4-H impact you? What valuable experiences and lessons did you gain along the way? How did it shape you as a person? Please share your 4-H stories! This is a great opening for much-needed dialogue surrounding a valuable program. (This program is vital but in many states, such as Illinois, it is in jeopardy.)

If you, or anyone you know, have any questions about 4-H and other agricultural youth organizations, feel free to contact me at kelly.m.rivard@gmail.com – I am a strong advocate of youth involvement of any kind, whether it be in 4-H, FFA, scouts, or any other type of club.

This computer-generated art, done in Adobe PhotoShop, won every possible award that it could have in Illinois 4-H. I also attribute this picture to the start of my digital graphics career. If it weren’t for 4-H, I would not be where I am today. I would not be who I am today.

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166 thoughts on “4-H is Evil and Bad for Kids

  1. 4-H and FFA animal projects helped us understand the circle of life. Everything that lives, dies. That is not an easy lesson, but it is one that is critical to begin understanding at a fairly early age.

    I haven’t yet read the linked article, but I really can’t comprehend how someone could feel that it’s wrong to teach kids of an appropriate age and maturity (and I’m not talking high school here, I’m talking pre-teen or earlier) that life for all creatures (including you and I) will come to an end at some point, and that your hamburger, bacon or rack of lamb required the death of an animal somewhere.

    4-H and FFA taught me that the animals raised for our food should be treated well and given respect while they are alive, and that their deaths should be as quick and painless as possible. And most of all, it taught me that if I want to enjoy my mushroom burger, I have to make peace with the fact that some steer went to a slaughterhouse to put it on my plate.

    I did make peace with that fact. Does that make me desensitized to killing? Hardly.

    http://agricultureadvocate.blogspot.com/2011/01/humane-eating.html

    • Fantastic comment, Candace. I really appreciate you stopping by, reading, and commenting. I agree whole-heartedly; we made every effort to keep our animals healthy, happy, comfortable, and content while they were with us. Once the time came for them to be used for food, we did everything in our power to make sure they remained calm and fearless and that what needed to be done was done quickly. Because of that experience raising animals with 4-H, I fully grasp the necessity (and moral obligation) for taking optimum care of the animals under my supervision, and have a more profound appreciation for the food system.

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and beliefs. I truly appreciate it!

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  3. Thanks Kelly for a great post. I am in the process of writing my own response to CNN. I agree with all your points 100%!! Not only did 4-H help develop me into a confident, well spoken and responsbile adult, as a side bonus I met a my husband who shares those same qualities.

    In MN you cannot participate in 4-H livestock projects until 3rd grade. If a 3rd grader doesn’t know where their food comes from at that point, then I we have a totally different set of issues to address. 4-H fosters a child’s understanding of respect, compassion and humility when it comes to raising animals. By knowing that my animals were destin for slaughter, only gave me more reason to do the best I could to care for them and honor their lives and deaths.

    Emily

    • Thanks for posting, Emily! You raise valuable points about the merits of 4-H and its lessons. By having a firm grasp on what goes into the food we raise and a strong understanding of the circle of life, children have a good foundation to later become compassionate, dedicated animal caregivers. Thank you for leaving your thoughts and reading this post.

      And, I feel I should add, GOOD LUCK TOMORROW. I cannot wait to see pictures of you and Tim’s newest addition. Congratulations.

      • This was absolutely beautiful, Kelly. I love reading things like this, as I have written quite a few things of similar content and purpose myself. I especially appreciate this because I come from a 4-H Camping background, and not from an Agricultural, Horticultural, Hippology, or Livestock background, so it’s fantastic getting to hear the same amount of passion from someone else on a different side of 4-H than myself. I wanted to share with you and everyone on this blog a video that I made that actually received national and international attention at one time in this past year, by 4-H’ers all over the world, and I just felt as if you’d appreciate it, even if it is centered around 4-H Camp. Please let me know what you think!

  4. Great job Kelly…4-H and FFA is bad for kids only if you are a moron who doesn’t want to see them grow up to be intelligent, successful, contributing adults. This kind of counter post is terrific and is what we need to see more of…keep up the good work!

    • Thank you kindly, Mark! To be fair, there are millions of people in the world who are valuable citizens and community members, without having been in 4-H. I don’t want to make it sound like 4-H and FFA programs are the only way to create worthwhile adults. That is obviously not the case. I do think that youth organizations such as 4-H and FFA give kids a leg-up in becoming the people they are capable of being, though.

      Thanks for swinging by my blog and commenting, I really appreciate it!

  5. I was in 4H with rabbits, my 20 year old son did 4H with rabbits, goats and horses. Now my 9 year old daughter is ready for 4H and starting her with rabbits seems the right way to go but i have a few issues now. I do not want her to breed rabbits and contribute to the already exploding overpopulation of discarded rabbits (where i live). I would have a different feeling about this if the kids were allowed to show spayed and neutered bunnies and not expected to breed and raise a certain number of litters to be able to get their achievement. I never did cavys so i dont know what is expected to achieve in that program. I do like the 4H program over all but my son was not expected to breed his mare to achieve and could have shown a gelding if he had one, why cant the kids have the option to raise a house rabbit or two with the ability to show them?

    • Hi Rebecca,

      First and foremost, thank you for reading and responding! Our rabbit program was run much like a farm; the ultimate goal of the animals was to provide food. We used the manure in gardens to grow some pretty amazing produce, and many of the animals were used for meat. We did have smaller breeds (Mini Rex and some Havanas) that went to pet stores or directly to new homes. We sold some pet rabbits right at the fair, too! A problem is always finding homes for any animals that you wouldn’t want to harvest. A lot of our rabbits also went to other 4-H kids who also enjoyed raising or showing rabbits. I know the rules for achieving 4-H goals vary from state to state.

      I know a lot of the difference between horse and rabbit showing is the fact that rabbits are considered a livestock animal, whereas horses serve different use. At our fair and in our 4-H contests, rabbits were auctioned off the same as beef cattle and hogs. In horses, you’re often judging performance, whereas in rabbits you tend to be judging the animal based on the standard of a breed. I think that’s why there isn’t really as much of a push for non-breeding rabbits in shows. I know our 4-H show allows for pet rabbits to be shown, though, and they’re judged based on how well they’re taken care of rather than how close they are to the breed standard. Maybe you should talk to your local 4-H rabbit superintendant to see if they offer this in your area. If that’s the case, your daughter could show a few pet bunnies without having to worry about breeding new show animals each year!

      Cavies are supposed to be a joy to raise! I have never dealt with them beyond knowing some folks who raise them and obviously seeing them at rabbit shows. I don’t know much about the 4-H and ARBA requirements for cavies, but that might be a better option for your daughter.

      I definitely understand your concerns. Not everyone who raises rabbits can find good outlets for all of the animals they raise to get some winners. It’s a hard problem to solve, and I hope you find a solution that fits your family best! Like I said, talk to someone in the 4-H rabbit program in your area, they might have ideas or options for you!

      Best wishes!
      – Kelly

    • When I was in 4-H, there was a project called “small animals” that was directed specifically toward someone in your situation. Spayed/neutered animals are allowed, and it still involves care and record keeping, but they are not judged according to how close they come to a breed standard. The “rabbit” project is intended for children who want to be breeders, either of meat rabbits (in which case you can sell the offspring for food), or purebred varieties intended to be sold as breeding stock for others.I am forever grateful for all the opportunities afforded to me by my 4-H experience. I would not trade all those years of learning and friendship for anything. I did the small animal project with a rabbit when I only had one (as a min-4-Her), then did the rabbit project when I was old enough to manage an entire barnful. I also did dairy goats, poultry, draft horses, maple syrup, vet science, and a multitude of others. I raised rabbits until a few years ago, still raise dairy goats, and have draft horses.

    • In my area (central Indiana) kids can show pet rabbits. The key is to find the correct classification. Here it is called “pocket pets”. Call your extension office. Chances are there is a way to show without breeding. The meat rabbits are breeders because you must breed to produce more food.

  6. I have been in 4-H sense I was 5 and I have seen the worst of both sides of the arguement and honestly dissagree with those who say that it desensitizes kids. They may not be really sensitive but I know almost every 4-H kid has a heart. I am doing a 7 page research paper for my english class and I think this is a perfect article to use as a refrence. I like it πŸ™‚

  7. Every year my husband, four kids and myself attend the San Diego County Fair (we live in San Diego County) and I have attended since I was a girl (as I grew here in San Diego). Visiting the animals and seeing all the 4H projects has always been the highlight of my visit to the fair. As a girl I always admired the animals and liked to see all the cute high school boys dressed in their cowboy boots. They all seemed so foreign to me. All the 4H projects come from the rural parts of San Diego, places I hadn’t visited yet. And now as an adult and mother I love to visit the animals and see the high schoolers with their projects. What always strikes me is how engaging the kids always are. I love to talk to the kids about their animals. They always know so much! Plus its so great to see how focused they ALL seem to be on going to college. I tell my kids these are the people who will grow your food someday (thank god!) A few years ago my oldest son (who was 11 at the time) became very emotional when he realized that the livestock gets sold (often for food). He thought it was horrible and cruel. I explained to him how most of our food (meats) are produced in this country and how our animals for food production often have very unhappy lives. I explained that the 4H animals are well cared for (and often well loved) and are killed in a humane way. I explained that this is the best way for all humans to treat the animals that are produced for food. He said (thru his tear streaked eyes) “Mom, we owe it to the animals we plan to eat to give them the best life possible before we take their lives, it’s only fair”. 4H gave me the most wonderful teaching opportunity for my kids that day. He learned the gift of being humane. I think that without 4H programs kids could become very detached from where and how their food is produced. That would be evil, in my opinion.

  8. Yes in 4-H you raise an animal from a baby then later on show the animal and kill it for money, but don’t act like you have never had a hamburger or chicken nuggets or ribs… Without 4-H I have no idea how I would be going to college! Or about when a calf comes out of its mother sick and weak how to nurse it back into good health! You don’t think that it upsets me to have to drive my heifer that I have raised from the ground up to a slaughter house to be killed??? With 4-H I have learned to many skills that school can’t teach me! So to all you people who stand outside the livestock shows with signs telling us we are horrible people go eat a hamburger because what I am doing is no different than that!!!

  9. Pingback: On FFA Week, I took the next step in my ag story. | kellymrivard.com

  10. You have no damn clue what your 4-h is a huge part of my and forever be a huge part of my life. Cause Georgia 4- H is the best there is no doubt about it. I AM GEORGIA 4-H. So why don’t you come to Georgia let Georgia 4-H educate you better on what 4-h is all about. Some of my best friends are from 4-H. So I will shut up by saying this you are seriously barking up the WRONG TREE. Have a nice day ya yuppie nerd.

    Sincerely,
    A GEORGIA 4-Her

    • Hi Ross,

      I reached out to you via email to explain the misunderstanding, but if you took the time to read this post you’d see that I’m defending 4-H. I am about as far from a yuppie as you can get (I wear boots pretty much every day of my life, I say “y’all” a lot, and I don’t know which fork to use in a fancy restaurant) but I can appreciate your passion.

      Thanks for your time. Good luck in all your endeavors.

  11. Hi Kelly,
    I wonder if you actually read the CNN article, because I did. They never say anything derogatory about 4H. The link you posted is merely a follow-up to another Eatocracy segment which was about why you should support and buy from 4H. The follow-up CNN article was used simply to say that the people who commented on the original segment split into two distinct camps that either loved or hated 4H. The comments that follow were made by readers/viewers of the original segment… not CNN. If anything, their publishing/posting of the original Eatocracy story skews more toward their support of 4H.
    Also, I can see this post is older, but someone I know just posted it today, so I’m commenting today πŸ™‚

    • Hi Maryberrye,

      I wrote this blog post 3 years ago, at the time of the original CNN post coming on. I believe this post was just intended to respond to the idea that 4-H desensitizes people — I know I read the CNN link at the time of writing 3 years ago, but…it was 3 years ago. I can’t fully explain what was on my mind at the time or how other factors (such as Eatocracy/CNN coverage, other dialogue, etc.) fed into me writing this post.

      I never expected this to happen 3 years after writing. So now I’m kind of scratching my head about all of this. That said, I’m still a HUGE supporter of an advocate for 4-H, and I appreciate you coming to read this post!

    • I’m a Kansas 4-H alum, and I loved everything you said. Loved it so much that I had to reblog it. I think 4-H is so important and I think that everyone should be a part of it at least once! I’m here in Denver for school, and it amazes me how little people know–and so then they try to argue facts and I can pick their arguments apart because they don’t hold up and make sense.
      4-H is great and I just can’t imagine why people would think it’s not. Like you said, yes we grow animals to show them and then kill them, but thus is the circle of life. At least when he kill them it is humane, unlike their thinking.
      Thanks again!!!

  12. I was orphaned at age eight and my first foster home was a farm. They had two other kids and they were in 4H. They helped me make a dish towel and a dish cloth for my project and it was entered at the county fair. Despite the ragged edges, I received a ribbon. It was the first time in my life that anybody had ever rewarded me for something I had done!
    Many years later my husband and I raised our kids on a farm. All three of them were in 4H all the way into their teens. Our son had his own club at sixteen and we became leader trainers in our state.Our children had a deep respect for all living things. The teen clubs were deeply involved in many community help activities as a part of their 4H projects.
    On the matter of killing animals, I am Native American and we believe that the Creator made the animals, the birds and the plants to care for us and we must care for them. If you don’t want to kill to eat, then don’t eat vegetables either because they are also living beings. I can remember the moan of my green beans every time I picked them from the plants but I thanked them for their gift and ate them..

  13. Nice read. 4H is such a pivotal part of many lives & communities. I didn’t see the original article on barbaric & cruel kids resulting from 4h, but I can say I cried over every steer I sold. I cared for them for 10 months, sure I knew the end result. But I kept doing it because it gave me work ethic, people skills, and a downpayment for my 1st home. I learned how to lose, how being lazy really doesn’t gain you anything. And some lifelong friends were made in 4h. My degree & job are both in ag & we have our own cow herd. Love, love, love 4h & am counting the years (2) until my boys can join.

  14. Kelly, I really enjoyed reading this. I have to say that I did not read all the comments so some of this may be repeats. I was in 4-H during the late 60’s early 70’s, raised in a little town in Kansas. I entered cooking and sewing exhibits, with some going to the State Fair. It showed to me that I could be the best, which has paid off later in life.
    I was also very active in FHA, camp counselor and State Officer. It all combined to make me a better person.
    You keep up the good work.
    And by the way, I now live in the South and have learned to say y’all, with the best of them.

    PS, Have you ever seen the Peterson Brothers Farm Video’s? Kansas farm boys.

    • Debby, thank you! I’m very familiar with the Peterson Brothers! We’ve actually met in occasion before — the Kansas/Missouri/Kansas City area is a “small town” in a ways, everyone in agriculture knows everyone here. I’m glad you had a fantastic experience with 4-H (like so many of us did)! Thanks for stopping by, commenting, and sharing your thoughts!

  15. Wow! Great response. I grew up as a cattle rancher’s daughter who never was interested in doing the animal projects – already pretty much understood the cycle of life, raising animals for food – I chose leather working, cake decorating, cooking, embroidery (this was a few decades ago!) and ultimately, photography. I went on to do six years of photography, included self-directed independent projects, and ultimately went to college for photography (with some 4-H scholarship money). Yes, 4-H shaped the whole rest of my life, in so many ways – I’ve watched SO many kids (both my peers, and as an adult, again living in a rural 4-H world) cry their hearts out after the 4-H sale at the end of the fair… hardly desensitized! Thanks for a funny, but well-written and honest, response!

  16. Did you read the article or just the headline? It starts with one. I repeat one statement about that rants about the unethical killing of animals. The entire rest of the article you are shooting down shows responses that are sensible, logical, discussions about the need for programs to help children understand agriculture. Please, it’s people that get worked up without research that make the internet a tiring place to spend time.

    • Hi CalvinandnNope,

      This post is intended to hone in on the misguided notion that 4-H is bad due to its desensitizing children, and provide my personal insights on why 4-H is fantastic. I did read the article — three years ago, when I wrote this post. I haven’t bothered to go back and reread it at this point, so I’m not 100% sure of the mindset I was in nor the context of my response. I do remember, though, that I never got “worked up” at the time — I just sat down and wrote what I thought was a fairly clever blog post regarding my opinion on one specific point in an article.

      Thanks for your time.

  17. Hello Kelly!
    I have to admit, I was beginning to get offended in the first part of your post. Especially when you started talking about Public Speaking. In my opinion and experience, it is the parents that encourage their kids to step into unknown waters. I made my daughter do it her first 2 times, and now, 5+ years later, she tells me about what speech she is giving and where. She is an only child and is homeschooled. Because of this, she made 4-H her “childhood career.” This is her last year on SD 4-H Youth Council, of which she is the Historian. Right now she is at her Grandmother’s sewing an outfit for Make It With Wool, of which she will also show for 4-H. For the past year she has been traveling all over South Dakota by herself to one event or another. 4-H is a highly thought of program within our entire family.
    I am thinking that a lot of the negative replies you will get will be from those dedicated 4-H members/families that get too upset in the beginning and don’t read the whole blog. That will be sad.
    Right now my daughter is planning on taking Human Services/Resources because of the different Community Service areas she assisted with.
    Good luck to you in your future endeavors!
    Brenda

  18. My mom was faced with a problem – a pathologically shy child who refused to make eye contact, barely spoke, and was happier immersed in a horse book than she was in human company. “Autistic”, murmured the doctors. “Special ed”, howled her son.
    “Horses and horse clubs”, whispered her heart.

    Horses it was. Horses led to 4-H, where eye contact was expected. It led to public speaking, where “fake confidence until you have it” became a mantra. Horse showing, judging, and hippology. Public speaking and demonstration. None of it came without effort, but with each success came friends and a drive to go for the next level.
    The effort paid off and suddenly there were competitions all over the country as a state representative – all 4-H funded. It also led to a similarly gratifying FFA career.
    I finished high school with an International Baccalaureate diploma and was tapped in as an All Star. My best friend – met during those forlorn early forays – tapped me in. I graduated from college with an Education degree largely financed by scholarships won through community service. I am a teacher, a 4-H leader, and a coach. These days I’m frequently assigned “lost horse girls” of my own.

    None of it, none of it would have happened without 4-H. I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to repay 4-H for giving a life worth living in the first place.

  19. Kelly,
    As a former 4-H er and a 4-H educator, thank you for standing up for 4-H. The life skills taught by the livestock program is remarkable. I am proud of my 4hers who have gone on to complete college and becoming productive members of society.
    Cathleen Taylor
    Oklahoma 4-H

  20. This is stupid, god put these animals on this earth for us to eat, and 4 h and FFA teach the circle of life, values and responsibities, and if you don’t like meat then Don’t eat it and save it for the rest of us to eat

  21. I am a current senior in 4h and am involved in the dog, rabbit, photography and goat projects. the biggest misconception here is that all 4hers must have animals. I know plenty of people here who benefit from 4h without them. 4h has allowed me to figure out my future career path and has given me the necessary experience that is crucial to getting into a good college. Ive learned more life lessons than I can say.

  22. Are you f*!king kidding me!! 4-H teaches kids leadership, teamwork, animal care, lofe skills like sewing, baking, etc. For you to say its bad and it teaches kids to kill animals is 100% wrong, the kids themselves do not kill the animal. They raise it, show it, and if its a market animal ,which not all are by the way, then it gets sold at a fair auction.
    This teaches kids about marketing and raising of livestock. What is so wrong about that? Maybe if more kids were involved we woulnt have the gangs and killings from young kids who grow up in a gang. We would have smarter yourh who could help change this world for the better. We would have kids who grow into educated adults who know what it takes to raise the food we consume on a daily basis therefore they would respect it more.

    You are way out of line saying 4-H is evil and bad for kids, I guess you think they should all be in gangs and kill other people instead of animals that we consume as food!!!

  23. I am not one of the “typical, farm” kind of 4-H’er- I live in a small city in Wisconsin and my family does not own a farm nor any animals other than dogs. Despite this, I have been involved in 4-H for nearly ten years (I am 18 years old now).
    I held several offices of my club, including President, Secretary, and Historian, some positions more than once. I had to learn to take notes, handle money, and organize events for my 4-H Club. I also learned about public speaking through 4-H and improved both my public speaking and my leadership skills. I applied and was chosen to be a 4-H County Ambassador, meaning I volunteered several hours at the fair, promoted 4-H, and facilitated several county and state events.
    This past summer, I travelled to Washington D.C. for a national conference. This conference was attended by delegates around the United States and we all learned a plethora of information about 4-H and leadership.
    Through 4-H, my family hosted a year long exchange student from Ukraine this past year. I also went to Japan as an exchange student through 4-H and had an amazing time! 4-H helped me foster an understanding for world culture and different traditions.
    To cut things short, 4-H is a huge, important part of my life and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without it. If anyone insults 4-H in ANY way, I will always be here to set them straight.
    -Tiana

  24. As a former All-Star and two time President of my club, I can honestly say that 4-H prepared me for my adult life better than any other program or education I participated in as a youth. I am proud of my 4-H roots, and so grateful to have been a part of such a wonderful program.

  25. I will admit at first you had me a little irritated with the “5-H bashing”, but as I read your article those bashings were attention getters.
    I have been involved in 4-H since the age of 8 years old. Started out as a junior member and am now currently a leader. My kids have both been involved since the age of 5. Cloverbud members were not always part of 4-H like they are now. I believe the earlier we can get kids involved the better. Like yourself, 4-H taught me responsibility, gave me the confidence to be a productive adult and oh so much more.
    Keep up the good work in spreading good news about 4-H! Sadly even in our rural area 4-H is being put on the back burner so to speak, athletics and other activities have been placed before 4-H activities. People need to know the importance of keeping 4-H alive and going.
    I AM ARKANSAS 4-H!

  26. Thank you for sharing. I was in 4-H during my school career and loved baking, sewing, woodworking and more. I held offices for leadership experience and gave demonstrations. My favorite part of course was the awards I received, those big purple ribbons.

    Now I am involved once again as my children are old enough. 4-H are providing them with the same opportunities and more. Since we are home schoolers, 4-H is the tool we use for public speaking, competitions and now robotics. It also holds many classical education concepts that the public schools are complete lacking. How many teens today can actually judge In a project area then stand to refute those answers? How many can actually think beyond the surface to communicate what they learned on their project reports?

    If people would just set their bias’ aside, think of all the opportunitties they might see hidden in this organization.

  27. BRAVO!!! I was a 4Her and my kids are 4Hers and I too believe that 4H is wonderful organization that not only prepares kids for life but creates a supportive network of friends and family that often lasts through their lifetime.

    I admit I was concerned when I saw the title of your post on my FB feed but I was so relieved to see such a well written post on the positive attributes of 4H!!

  28. My oldest son was in 4-H Shooting Sports. He learned the proper care and handling of a firearm that he wouldn’t have learned from me, as I knew nothing about them. He did very well from the beginning and placed in every competition on the club level that he participated in. His shots were right on target (no pun intended), and his groupings were very good for a young teenager. He was even making his dad jealous! He loved it!

  29. 4-H gave me the work ethic i have to day! To stick with a project thru the end no matter what glitches come along the way. Hard work, taking care of your animals, tight deadlines, a sense of achievement and belief, pride…yeah—4-H is evil for our kids. HA! Hope this program never dies out—our youth need programs and groups like this to KNOW hard work and what the future holds for them than to just think they are entitled to things without working hard for them. Thanks for standing strong on your beliefs as well…hmmmm, probably something 4-H taught you as well.

  30. Excellent blog. Our 4-H Club is helping to grow organic food for special needs cooking classes and donating the rest to a food pantry to help combat local hunger. Think of all those innocent vegetables slaughtered in the name of food. Oh, and you should see what we do to the weeds. Horrifying.

  31. I raised, trained and competed with horses my entire childhood. Also competed in public speaking, cooking, woodworking and I have forgotten what all else! I was named outstanding 4-Her in my county when I was only 11 years old. As a result of my involvement, I am well spoken, confident, organized and compassionate. Did it make me a senseless killing machine? Since I wept like a baby and was inconsolable until the poor creature had a proper burial when I accidentally ran over a neighborhood stray kitten I’m going to hazard a no! As an only child living on a rural farm, 4-H was a way for me to socialize and learn how to get along with others. I contribute many positive aspects of my personality to the experiences in 4-H. Someone who thinks the organization has no redeeming value is obviously ignorant of the facts and had no first person experience with the club.

  32. I thoroughly enjoyed this article! Having a wordy love of sarcasm I thought this was great. Word of advice, reread the original article to remember the gist because your blog is spreading like wildfire!! I do wish 4-H taught people to read fully before judging.

    That being said I started 4-H as a cloverbud at 8 years old and went beyond turning 18. We had all the traditional experiences as well as an incredible 4-H camp. Here we learned acceptance, leadership, responsibility, etc. We were campers from all over Ohio and when when we were older, we became leaders, counselors, and I eventually became an adult paid staff. It was incredible lifelong experiences that made me who i am.

  33. My 17 year old has been in 4H since he was 5. What has he learned? He has learned how to speak in front of people, parlimentary procedure, how to manage money, how to care for an animal, the facts of life(yes the facts of life. He had rabbits), the importance of passing on his knowledge and helping others, and the importance of community service. His pigs were just as spoiled has his dog. You won’t see producers in the pig pen kicking a ball around for the pigs to play with, or scratching them behind their ears. That animal’s purpose is to provide food and I can guarantee you that 4H animals have a supurb quality of life compared to those which producers raise. Desensitize? Quite the opposite. I believe 4hers have a much better grasp on the world than one may believe. Perhaps it is those who choose not to get the whole story that are desensitized. 4H isn’t all roses but neither is life. I would rather my kids be prepared for life, both good and bad, than be ignorant to real life.

  34. This was a great article, and the facts were well stated. I grew up the son of a rancher within an agricultural community and spent every day working closely with the animals and I can assure you and anybody else that agriculture is not a heartless barbaric cult. The animals that we raised recieved excellent care and at many times the caretakers placed themselves at risk to ensure such.

    As you stated in your article though 4-H is much more than raising livestock and many of the programs are essential. There are programs for preparing or preserving food, designing and making cclothing, working with wood, with leather, with metal, nature preservation programs and much more. They also provide opportunities to travel and learn about other lifestyles in the country, to learn about the government, to join speaking and debate teams and if I remember correctly they actually have a program solely focused on preparing records.

  35. I was never involved in 4-H, but I’ve always been impressed how much those kids in particular get what animal cruelty really is. No surprise: Working with animals is enough to teach you that, and more it seems imbedded in the organization’s ethos. πŸ™‚

  36. And we wonder why society is going down the tubes! I was in 4-H from 9-18. We didn’t have livestock, but there was still plenty of responsibility and work to go around! What breaks my heart is that our own local exhibits are WAY down. It’s pitiful that no one seems to have the time or guidance to devote to a project. And I’m not talking the time and effort for livestock. I’m talking sewing or photography! Creative arts! ( these projects tend to require less feed and produce little to no manure! lol)
    And how could I neglect to mention the unadulterated joy of 4-H CAMP?!? A vacation of sorts from parents!! I’m 35 and still miss it!
    Your’s truly, A ‘retired’ Ohio 4-H-er

  37. Where I live. .. all kids are required to take 4-H until 7th grade…. and here I thought it was a good thing. Oh my… what about the FFA club!? We must put a stop to this now before our children turn into working, productive members of society! The shame….

  38. I grew up with 4-H being my whole entire life. Since kindergarten I participated in clover buds and then grew up to be very involved in my club, fair board, showing pigs and the car teens program. Showing pigs was tough work, but I learned so much responsibility waking up every morning to take care of my pigs. I also learned a lot about being a producer our role in creating quality food for consumers. I also grew up with very low self-confidence and was treated very poorly among my peers at school. I believe that 4H saved me though. The friendships I gained are still with me 2 years after my last year of 4H. I found who I am through 4H and I proudly brag about all my accomplishments and how much 4H does for our youth. 4H helps make responsible leaders for this country. I encourage all youth to get involved in 4H and the many parts this organization has to offer. I loved your article and it makes me happy to see others stick up for this amazing organization.

  39. It has been many years since I was in 4-H. 1967 was the last year of my 11 year 4-H career. 4-H had a big impact on my life. My 4-H projects lead to interests in animal science, entomology, rangeland management and many other ag related areas of expertise. Leadership, teaching others, public speaking, demonstrations, judging contest, and just plain learning to work with others were among the many experiences I had in my 4-H career. I also learned how to lose, how to handle having an excellent exhibit misjudged by a judge who didn’t understand the area they were judging, how to take criticism and build on that foundation, and how to do better next time.

  40. I was in foods & nutrition & clothing in 4-H in Massachusetts for 7-8 years. Like you, it was an important and formative experience for me. Someone who has no idea of what they are talking about is out to lunch!

  41. Kelly your response to 4-H is spot on. Both of my daughters achieved a great deal through 4-H . I feel another strength of 4-H is the family involvement. It’s not another activity a parent drops their kids off at. It becomes a part of the fabric of our family, and we continue to support 4H even though Melissa and Caitlin are now grown and out of school. Regards, The Still Family.

  42. Trust me when I say I’m not desensitized in any way because of the 10 years I spent in 4H. I’m the girl who had to hide when the trucks came. I understood the ultimate goal but it was still sad to see them go. 4H was the best program and I learned so much from my time at the fair. I mean really the media is trying to destroy what little good is left for our kids. Shame on you CNN!

  43. I am a former 4-Her, 4-H leader, and 4-H parent and grandparent. I am 66 years old and there is not a day in my life that I don’t use what I learned in that experience. Thank you for this wonderful blog.

  44. This is AMAZING!!! you nailed it! I loved 4-H and I showed sheep, goats, pigs, and cattle, (along with other projects) and anyone that knew me in 4-H knows that my animals were the most spoiled animals in the world! Like you said they, 4-H members treat their animals well. Like I said earlier I loved reading this! Thank you so much for posting!

  45. I was a 4-H dog club member in NY. I learned about responsibility, public speaking, science related things such as genetics and anatomy, and gave me a place to shine with like minded kids who didn’t judge me for being a dog show geek.

    It introduced me to the world of dogs through great volunteers who took other peoples kids to shows and events, even though some of them had no kids of their own in the program. They taught us respect and how to love showing without getting into the politics.

    They taught us be gracious losers and respectful winners, while still installing a great work ethic. In my club we were required to do public presentations every year if we wanted to attend the state fair competition, even if we qualified in the local competition. It taught me how to put together a presentation and gave me public speaking confidence I would later use in many college courses.

    I have now been training dogs for 21 years and am a certified dog trainer who successfully competes with happy, well rounded dogs as a hobby.. But the life skills 4-H gave me are invaluable.

  46. I was an Organizational 4H leader back in the eighties, I taught kids how to cook, we did numerous projects for our community, we picked up trash along the roadways, picked pecans for Seniors, took them food, visited nursing homes, you get the gist, my boys were in 4H, my granddaughter was in 4H and FFA and is now going to Texas A&M, Kingsville and is on the Dean’s List. I have never known of an FFA or 4H kid who robbed anyone, mugged anyone, played knockout games, stole cars, killed anyone or in general, was a bad person. I am so disgusted with people who constantly try to destroy good Organizations for children and teens because they are so insecure with themselves. 4Hers BUILD, they don’t DESTROY!

  47. I feel that your article is your opinion; however I feel that you are informing the public that may not have experience or knowledge about 4-H or agriculture and I do not think that is fair for you to state to the public that 4-H is “evil and bad for kids” “that its corrupt” and “subjecting children to the slaughter of animals” when there is so much more to 4-H than what you are saying. No body forced you to be apart of this “organization” and no body forced you you to stay with it, that was your choice. I’m also sorry that you did not have a good experience in 4-H but that does not mean you should go around using propaganda to destroy a organization for children that look at it as a opportunity.

    I would like to say I disagree with your article. As a former member of 4-H I would like to say that 4-H is an amazing club for young children.

    It allows children to over come their fears of public speaking or allow children to use their voices in front of small and large audiences. Public speaking is important because children should be heard, what they write about and share to the public is important to them and comes in handy in their future.

    They learn about community services again this is important because they see what goes on in the very place they live to and they are seen and recognized by those around them which can open more opportunities in their future.

    To socialize with other children outside their community allowing them outside connections, and learning what leadership is.

    Children are being taught responsibility in hands on experience in raising their animals; how to properly feed them, understanding the animals health and how to care for them, what their needs are in raising them, how much it cost to do all this, and most important organization with time. Kids need a life and this helps them manage it so that they can still have fun with friends or other activities.

    The best example I could possibly give is the scenario of “Mommy/Daddy I want a pony!” : Young children asking their parents for a pony, what child doesn’t want a pony? Well you get your child a pony and well its not what they expected. They want sleep overs, shopping, hanging out with friends. Now what? You the parent is stuck with a pony that your child doesn’t look at. Your child doesn’t learn anything from it except that they can get what they want then your stuck looking after it. This happens all the time with dogs & cats, etc.

    Not all animals are subjected to market in 4-H, I myself did my projects on bred heifers, a cow-calf pair and a dog self-determined project, which I would like to add that all my animals are still living on my families ranch.

    Other projects that are available are Horses, breading rabbits, self determined projects for senior members. Projects for children that do not want to have animals can take Archery, photographing, Art, baking, etc.

    There is so much that 4-H can offer its not just about fair day and the animals.
    In my club we did a lot with the community, picking garbage, collecting recycling, met in a group that was ran by the members with the support of Adult volunteers to guide us. we learn to work as a team, we learn from one another.

    4-H gives children skills that they can take into the real world when its their time to go out on their own it opens opportunities. The things they can have when the enter the world will be: having a voice, being a leader, Self-management/ discipline (this can be used for so anythings specially in their work environment or schooling schooling), being responsible, respecting themselves and others, the list can go on.

    So let me ask you how are these experience not important in a young persons life?

    • Hi Amanda,

      I think you misunderstood the entire idea of the article. You read the first paragraph and jumped to conclusions. If you read the entire post, you’ll see that I’m a huge advocate for 4-H, and that the first paragraph is a hook to get readers in. Everyone wants to read bad news — I wanted a creative way to pull people in an explain the benefits of 4-H.

      So, now that we’ve cleared that up, how do you REALLY feel about my opinion?

      Thanks for your time!

  48. I can not believe this- 4-H is one of the good things left in this world- It teaches responsiblity and leadership and how to become accountable- My daughter was in 4 h 8 years learned so much, did receive an scorlorship woulds not change it

  49. 4-H did many of the same things for me as it did for you. Not only that, but the lifetime friendships I’ve built & the strong sense of community it gave me have created some of the most important bonds I have in my adult life today. THANK YOU for writing this post. I hope it gets MUCH MORE attention than the post CNN shared.

  50. I completely agree with everything you said about 4-H. It helped me gain confidence, learn to persevere, work my hardest and never give up. I raised rabbits for 4-H and also did sewing, child development, baking and cake decorating. I was one o those kids who did not live on a farm (although my uncle did so I wasn’t completely oblivious to farm life) but what I learned about animals in 4-H made me realize that I loved the “farm life” and my husband and I nownown a farm (he grew up on a farm…but I married him….lol). I do love raising animals and knowing where my food is coming from. I would not ever give up the lessons, experiences and friendships I was privileged enough to have through 4-H.

  51. Thanks for a great article. Having been a 4-H and FFA mom no one would believe that these young people become hardened to animal cruelty ……that has ever been there with the kids on sale day…not a dry eye when their prized animals they have cared for and lived with for months are sold.
    Some auctioneers who have sold children’s work projects for years encourage buyers to donate the animals back to the programs !
    For me the best comment I can make is having raised my children in the 1980 s when many of their friends had problems with illegal drugs and underage drinking my kids and their friends were up at 5 in the morning to take care of animals before school and home at dark …taking care of animals to do their homework and go to bed early !

  52. CNN thinks that 4-H is a horrible program that teaches children nothing except how to be desensitized to the the killing of animals. Really!?! I was a 4-H leader for many years and the organization is far, far from being that nefarious. This young lady’s written response is awesome! She’s a shining example of what 4-H is all about. My teenage kids are also shining examples–they both participated in 4-H and are just as articulate, confident, knowledgeable, multi-talented, and respectful of animals and the environment as the author. πŸ™‚

  53. 4-H was one of the best experiences of my life!! Not only did I learn real life skills (homemaking clubs were my specialty), but I also learned what it means to respect my leaders, understand the world, and realize just how much more there is to life than what you see in front of you. Thank you 4-H Canada for all you did for me as a youth!!!

  54. Thank you so much for writing this! 4-H makes a HUGE, positive impact on children’s lives, as it has mine. I would not be the confident, kind, and responsible leader that I am today without 4-H. Although I didn’t do the livestock part of 4-H I still gained so many skills and needed personality traits through 4-H. Here in Utah you can definitely tell a difference between 4-H kids and kids at my school. I also received scholarships from 4-H that are paying for most of my schooling. 4-H is amazing and made me who I Am today!

  55. 32 years ago I met my husband in 4H. We dated for 6 years and have been married for 26. 4H is a terrific program, which has provided my children with great friends and wonderful memories. Not to mention the responsibility it has taught them over the years. They have earned several thousands of dollars to put toward college by raising animals and selling them during the fair. Anyone who says 4H is a bad program has no clue what they are talking about! Send them my way, I will set them straight!

    Sincerely,

    Vicki Ruemenapp

  56. 4H was the best part of my life and taught me the skills I needed to succeed in life. I loved 4H so much it I now am a leader and am teaching kids the way it should be and how to enjoy it and shape them. I know that the kids that are in 4h have a better understanding of life and they all are so happy and love making new friends and helping in the community. I love it still and it is hard but it’s the best feeling after seeing all the happy kids and after seeing them all accomplish their goals. That’s my favorite part of the entire experience. Especially since you have a bunch of people there to support you and cheer you on to get to those goals!

  57. Wow Kelly, this definitely picked back up in a viral way, lol. I actually saw this link via a FB post from my cousin, not your FB page. Hopefully your readers will actually read the full article before posting comments… some of these are doozies!

    Hugs!
    Mandy

    • Hi Kay! I believe the CNN article’s content and context was different at the time of writing 3 years ago, and has changed since then. I did read the article at the time of publishing, though. Thanks for recognizing the change, and for taking time to read and respond!

  58. I have seen first hand with my brotherin 4-H what it can do for a person and then the family, AWESOME! !!!!!
    I wish my boys would have been involved with 4-H, and then me and their dad, things mighthave been so different, i have witnessed what being involved in this group does for ALL involved… wonderful experience, love it

  59. How dare anyone say 4-H is bad. All four of my kids were in it and only have wonderful memories. 3 of them never had animals. There are a lot of projects that do not involve animals but teach them all the organizational qualities and ability to speak in front of a group, how to give a presentation and a lot of other things that have helped them as they grew to adults. They are all better because of 4-H.

  60. Thank you for posting this article. I cannot even begin to describe how 4-H, along with FFA has shaped and moulded mine and my husbands lives, along with our children. There are too many words…compassion, leadership, teamwork, responsibility, respect, self-esteem, competitive drive, philanthropy, kindness, opportunity, growth, commrodery… The list goes on.

  61. 4-H was one of the best things I’ve done in my life. From cooking, sewing, public speaking, economic (shopping /comparing prices), being responsible and the countless friendship I’ve made and still have. I would not be the person I am today. I totally support the 4-H program and everything about it!

  62. Thank you so much for this article! The level of influence 4-H has had on my life is truly immeasurable! Not only was I a member for 11 years, but I continue to work with the program as a leader in two counties and a member of the 4-H advisory committee. Not to mention that through 4-H I met my husband of now five years as we were 4-H camp counselors together. I owe the program so much that I’ll never be able to pay back. I want every child (including my own) to have the same opportunities and experiences that I had!
    Thanks again for posting!
    Ashley in PA

  63. Excellent article. I was a 4-H Leader I’m Macomb County Michigan. All 3 daughters were 4-H members. All are successful in their chosen fields. You are an inspiration to the youth of today, God Bless you.

  64. I realize that 4-H could potentially be bad for children if that’s what they are taught and what they believe. I’m 15 and was involved in 4-H from when I was 8 to when I was 11. The first group I was involved in treated their animals and members terribly. The second group I was involved in was very organized and cared for everyone and everything that was involved in their group. If anything, 4-H taught me control, patience and motivation. Like I said before, it’s what you are taught, and what you believe.

  65. Excellent and thank you for a very well written article. I am a past 4-h member as was both my parents. I learned many skills that are still very much part of my life today, sewing gradening, knitting, crocheting and cooking and many more. Many skills that are not taught the newer generations of today.
    I too agree the 4-h taught me many other skills that have helped me in my career today and the two small businesses that own and operate. As a past treasurer it taught me how to run a checkbook, as well as balance one, something many kids don’t know how to do. I can’t say enough for 4-h and what it taught me growing up. Thanks again for sharing.

  66. I have always credited 4-H with learning how to speak, demo/teach in public. Not to mention organization and presentation. I have used it many times in life. I was in 4-H in Ohio in the 60’s.

  67. I loved your article and was actually shocked by the original article you were responding to. My eyes have been opened to how some individuals are severely misguided about 4-H, which fires me up to help educate others about the fantastic club. I grew up showing rabbits, too, as well as horses, pot-bellied pigs, and education posters at my country fair in Wisconsin. 4-H fostered my interest in the health and care of all animals, which encouraged me to pursue veterinary medicine as a future career. Just as yourself, 4-H helped guide my choices of colleges, degrees, and now my career. I am currently studying to become a veterinarian and am interested in not only companion animals but also food animals, especially dairy cattle, which help to feed our nation and our world. Thank you for writing and sharing this article! Now let’s get out their and serve our world!

    • Go you, Amy! I had wanted to be a vet but never made the grade in math and scienc. So I focused on what I’m good at — a lot of other random stuff, which 4-H helped me discover! Let me know if I can help you at all in your advocacy efforts, obviously I’m pretty passionate about it as well! Good luck and thanks for stopping by!

  68. Being in 4H was the best thing I ever belong to. I learned so much more than about raising animals for slaughter. I raised sheep for 3 years in my early teens, We had to go to the bank and get a loan to buy and feed are lambs we had to learn budgeting and money management of that loan. Also I learned responsibility for a helpless creature that I had to feed, bathe and exercise and train to go in the show ring. You had to be sure it made weight to sell at the fair and you had to sell it to pay off the loan but I never had to actually shoot the animal I raised it just got on a truck and left the fair grounds. Of course I knew what was going to happen but that is the food chain. I also learned to cook, sew, raise rabbits and make jam. I was also the club president and thats where I first learned to speak in public. So 4H is probably the best education I got for life.

    • 4-H is a wonderful organization and includes projects for all children – not only on the farm Children learn responsibility, commitment and self improvement in many topics such as electricity, consumer education, flowers, sewing, cooking, pet care, and many, many more.

  69. I was a 4-h member since the 4th grade all the way up through 12th and I can undoubtedly say it helped shape who I am today! I was involved with practically everything I could within it! Some of my best memories are from that time in my life. It just so happens that I was reciting a camp song to my husband just this morning and he laughed at me saying “boy you were involved with some weird stuff growing up.” He said this jokingly. I thought though to myself how sad it is that he didn’t get to experience what I did. Yes, it may have been silly and goofy now, but those were the best times! I don’t regret aa second I spent being involved with my community and I think those who judge and doubt 4-h as having a positive impact are just ignorant. I have honestly never met someone who has had 4-h experience coming away with nothing but positive to say about it. It genuinely hurts me to know that it could ever be removed from any community.

  70. A well written article. I’m 56 yrs old and Judged my first horse show at the age of 16, that was 1975 and still Judging today. And i have to give all the credit to my County 4-H. 4-H helped me to learn, to cope with change, my communication skills,my leadership roles, and being Me. I still carry all those values that were installed in me growing up in 4-h as i judge 4 to 12 4-H Shows a year. I love to talk on the mic to the crowds and parents an grandparents and they appreciate those words, “it never what you did wrong it’s always what you can do to improve. 4-H is not about winning, it’s about learning. thanks for the article

  71. I spent 10 yrs in 4-H and still support 4-H when I can. I was lucky enough to be able to be a delegate for a trip to the National 4-H Center in Washington DC. I got to see many things in the Capital and that was something that I would not have been able to do if not for 4-H. I took cooking, room design, photography, sewing and took on the challenge of raising a calf for competition one year. I think more people should take a closer look at the positive things that 4-H offers kids today and all the time. Kudo’s to you for this article.

  72. Bravo! Your article sums up all my thoughts to that awful article. Maybe the author should have joined 4-H or FFA, they might have learned something. Sadly, more children & adults in this day in age need to join 4-H and volunteer and become a better person for their community, country & world.

  73. As a former Iowa 4-H and FFA member I appreciate you standing up for and promoting both programs. I grew up on a diversified grain and livestock farming operation in central Iowa and can tell you that it was my parents well before either my 4-H or FFA experience that taught me where my food comes from and how it goes full circle from my gate to my plate. They also taught me that those animals were put here for us to use weather that be for food or power or companionship, and no matter what the use we are to be good stewards of them and take care of them and give the the best life possible while knowing their end.

    If there was any there desensitization I have yet to realize it because I, like many farmers, hate to euthanize an animal even though we know it is the best thing for it having done all that we could to have prevented it from getting to that point. I am able to sleep soundly at night when I sell a market animal to market because I know that it was the best possible way to utilize that animal. If I knew that that same animal was going to become someone’s pet instead it would probably keep me up at night because I know that the animal was not designed or intended for that purpose.

    None the less thank you for what you are doing and keep up the good work!

  74. Before all you PETA people start crap show animals aren’t treated poorly they are the best treated things in the world and I bet every person who has shown an animal can say that the sale day is the toughest because you spend 365 24/7 working, feeding, washing and doctoring there animals. So why don’t you people who disagree with me go to a show or fair and see how we’ll taken care of these animals are before you start creating lies.

  75. My Dad won a competition in 4H as a young man and had the opportunity to travel to the ‘finals’….it was life changing for him in the ’50’s…. I was a member of 4H Dog club and a 4H Horse club growing up….it was absolutely good for me. Thanks for putting the truth up.

  76. My entire family is involved in 4H and FFA. My grandparents own a 200 year-old homestead that has always been in our family we farm. My grandpa participated in 4H and he has helped each one of his children and grandchildren get the privilege to participate also. It is some of the best memories for our family. The time spent taking care of our animals day to day has made our family very close and has taught us responsibility, hard work, compassion. I have been asked how we can butcher one of our animals after caring for it and it being part of the family and it is sad when we have to sell or butcher them and it never gets easier. I have been involved one way or another with 4H my entire life and it never gets any easier. I learned a lot of life lessons showing livestock. People don’t realize the all the hard work and loving care that goes with 4H. I learned the pride in a job well done when it came time to exhibit my projects at the fair. When it came to the money we made at the auction from selling our livestock the money in our family goes towards college. Our family shared the good memories of getting to show as well as the heartache of losing one of my calves after doing everything humanly possible to save him. It made me into the independent, responsible, hardworking, caring, well spoken woman I am today. My little niece is 4 and she is right beside me when we are working with and taking care of the 4H animals she loves it. After being raised in the 4H community I can’t imagine anyone thinking it is evil. I wouldn’t want to have grown up any other way!

  77. 4-H molded my life for me. I use it today as a way to bond with my family and friends who were raised in the country like I was! Good,Caring, Respectful,Hard-Working,Animal-Loving,Decent people that you don’t mind exposing your family with ! This is one of the only good organizations left to bring the family to and trust that the values you have instilled in your kids will be seen in the kids at all the 4-H Shows you attend! I would not have time to attend all the games,functions, etc., you can put your kid in because of my job. There is good and bad in everything you get involved in, but doing things together as a 4-H family, like a Church family, does Good for your soul! I would not like to be walking this earth when the day comes that there is no 4-H, or farmers, because then some scientist will probably be preparing your next meal! You can accept 4-H as a Good thing, and help change the negative things about it, so it can stay a good thing! AMEN !

  78. This is ridiculous! The person who penned this article obviously didn’t realize that 4H promotes the SCIENCE and ART behind EVERY project!!! From photography, to robotics, cooking, and livestock projects to name a few. What a one sided selfish article. THIS is what is wrong with the world today. People need to expand their horizons and think BEYOND their immediate self. If your pattern of thinking is this pessimistic, I would suggest counseling instead of attacking the world we live in.

      • my guess is that Simon didn’t bother to read what you wrote Kelly- he read the title, jumped to conclusions, and jumped to the comments without thinking things through and gathering all the information he should have. which are things we are trying to promote in 4H for use in ALL aspects of life! especially when you are defending something that matters to you personally!

  79. You could not have said it better. I was in 4-H for 13 years and it was the best experience I could have had in my life. I still have many projects that I made. I still go to county fairs just to look at the 4-H projects. I am now a mother of a beautiful little boy and I hope one day he will also become involved in 4-H.
    Thank you for posting.

  80. My folks met in 4-H.. I was a member for 10 years. So many friends! My project is now Metch Polled Herefords Ranch.
    4-H did so much for my life and family, that I am still giving back to the youth today as a leader. No I have no kids! But I still can help others though 4-H!

  81. I had never thought about going to college until I won a trip to CSU in Fort Collins, CO for a 4H judging contest. Our County Extension agent took us and we stayed in the dorms. I looked around, and I thought “I can do THIS!” And I did. I have often wondered if I would have gone to college if it hadn’t been for 4-H.

  82. 4H- no matter what project you choose is about teaching leadership. As a 4h leader I can tell you there is no greater feeling than having a child mature into a responsible adult and knowing you helped shape them. I teach horse and pony and the confidence these kids gain controlling a #1000 animal has no comparison. Of course my own children and many others also show livestock that will one day be on somebody’s table. I’m ok with that, just as any other farmer. We understand the value of what we do. It’s something these people will never understand, THAT is the sad truth…

  83. I was a 4-Her and I loved it! Sure I did livestock projects, but like you I was also involved in the arts through our club. Our drama group created our own plays and we won every year at the county and sometime at the state level.

    Another benefit of 4h that I especially experienced while in the horse and pony group, was that it was hands off with the parents. They could not help us at the shows we had to clean, groom, tack our horses, and manage to keep our whites white. (Because in california we still showed in all white). We couldn’t have our parents or horse trainers coaching us, it was all based on our own skill and knowledge. How many kids get that opportunity?

    I’m still fiends with 4hers I grew up with, and we have even spoke about how beneficial 4H was to our life. We were in groups that ranged from rocketry to drama to bee keeping to dogs and yes of course livestock. But we also planned and ran our own summer camp, had a voice as young leaders at community, the county and state level, lead our groups as junior and teen leaders, planned field trips, wrote scripts, I was praised in college for my ability to give a speech (thank you 4H), learned parliamentary procedure, and had to do those dreaded record books. I praise the livestock projects because we did get a greater understanding of agriculture, but now when it comes to fair time I always think of how that meat being sold is actually the most locally grown, organic meat, grown with love, blood, sweat and tears, you probably can find, and isn’t that what buyers want anyway!

  84. I don’t know what’s more disappointing…that people don’t understand sarcasm in text or that people formulate an opinion on a topic without reading the material fully. If the trolls would read the whole post they’d see that Miss Kelly is vehemently passionate about the positive aspects of youth involvement in 4-H. Obviously 4-H touched her life in a deeply meaningful way.

    Brilliant post, Kelly! I was in 4-H from the age of 8 until I was 18 or 19. I held pretty much every office and sat on nearly every committee in my local club. 4-H was the only youth organization in my area that allowed a young girl to explore baking and cooking or artistry and crafting alongside livestock, woodworking, small engines, crop/animal sciences, and others. What other youth organization is that diverse?! The lessons I learned of leadership, volunteering, and responsibility have helped me pave my way in the world. I can’t imagine who or what I’d be today without my 10-11 years in 4-H.

    I am Illinois 4-H.

  85. I was involved in 4-H ABOUT 8 YEARS (1953 – 1961) I learned sewing, cooking and bookkeeping. In 1957 I learned bookkeeping skills and kept business records. Today I am the owner of the company that I did bookkeeping for. It was one of the most valuable learning tools I learned in life. I am still sewing, mending, and cooking….very valuable skills that I still using 61 years later. I have a well diversified garden, raise my own vegetables and herbs, and freeze, can and dry foods. I don’t need fast food restuarants or need my clothes mended at the dry cleaners. I learned public speaking and many other skills. I thank my parents
    and 4-H leaders for teaching and caring!

  86. This is so true looking at 4-H or FFA from someone that doesn’t understand what we all got out of the program. As a former 4-Her and now 4-H leader, I thought the way you put this was great. Thank you for your 4-H service πŸ™‚

  87. I spent all 10 years available wrapped up in an indeterminable number of 4-H projects. Rabbits, insects, birds, art, public speaking, rocketry, creative writing, sewing, gardening, cooking… the list goes on and on and on. I participated in 20 county fairs. I earned 100 county gold medals by the time I was done and was awarded my county’s highest 4-H honor at the youngest age I was eligible.

    Skip forward 20 years. Today, I don’t raise animals (I have pets), I live in the “city,” and I’m a software consultant (I install new systems based on a business’s criteria, and teach people how to use them.) And you want to know what makes my job easier? Knowing that I have a foundation in so many topics because of my 4-H years. I am organized, know how to lead, relate to project-based atmospheres, can speak to people about nearly anything and have critical thinking skills that can make patterns out of un-related topics to understand unknowns better and quicker. Along with that “easy” stuff comes the maturity I also learned through 4-H. I know that I can’t please everyone. I can’t always “win” no matter how hard I try. And no matter how much effort I put in there comes the day where I have to let go of what I care about. My folks put me in 4-H to allow me to develop independence through structure. And I’m eternally grateful to them and to 4-H for helping build me into the person I am today.

    So many people misunderstand 4-H. It’s a shame because it is one of the most useful organizations that allows a child to grow, flourish and succeed many years after participating.

  88. Love your article. 4-h is very misunderstood. I NEVER SHOWED AN ANIMAL. So I guess that makes me an bad animal killer also. πŸ™‚ I spent 11 years in 4-h. I cooked for my family starting at age 8. Sewed my own clothes, including a prom dress my friend wore. I went to DC twice free of charge because of people believing in me. The first time was for a national convention on getting kids involved and the second was to the national 4-h center. I helped run a website at 17 for the SD state fair. I started a can collection program at age 14 that is still running to this day in Madison to support local youth projects. I won a scholarship to buy books for college. I even got the SD 4-h program to expand there ideas of photography by displaying picture movies in 2002, long before they were the hip thing. There are so many more things I did but the best thing is I learned how to fill out forms and document my experiences in my 4-h book which I still have at age 29. Sounds pretty funny to have an 8 year old do this but now this 8 year has an awesome job for the SDANG writing reports everyday. I hope 4-H is still around in 5 years for my son, it was the best thing that ever happened to me.

    • Hi Ronjon, that was done on purpose. At the time that I wrote this article 3 years ago, a lot of people were googling whether or not 4-H was evil. This title (and the sarcasm in this first half of the post) were meant to grab the attention of people NOT familiar with 4-H.

  89. Reblogged this on Barely Right of Center and commented:
    My daughter was corrupted by 4-H just like Kelly, the writer of this article. My daughter was so corrupted that she got up early most mornings to go out to the barn and care for her horse. She learned discipline and hard work ethics by mucking stalls, feeding horses, endless hours of riding lessons, leadership training, love of animals, respect for adults and others in general, and how to be a well-rounded young woman who is greatly respected by parents of kids she now trains as well as her peers, coworkers, and employers. 4-H was an evil organization who taught my daughter about competition and helped her grow to become the 2008 4-H California Horse Classic State Champion as well as a member of the California Horse Judging Team that represented the State of California at 4-H Nationals.

    4-H also had an impact on my life as I spent two years leading a 4-H photography project, helping children and teens learn the basics of photography and challenging them to be creative and have a love for the beauty around them. I have enjoyed watching as one of those students has developed into a quite talented professional photographer as well as competitive equestrienne. This is truly a subversive organization that takes kids from all walks of life and gives them opportunities like they will receive nowhere else. We can’t have children growing up learning about responsibility, respect, discipline, and hard work. If we allow this to continue we may have a generation of well rounded adults who have learned to think for themselves and go counter to the dumbed down society that is prevalent today.

    Oh 4-H you horribly beautiful thing you. How you have enriched our lives and the lives of so many others we have had the pleasure of knowing because of you. Yes 4-H, you have taught us all to be better people and we just can’t have that in our society anymore, can we.

  90. CNN apparently changed the original publication of how they felt about 4-H. Don’t get me wrong. I gripe about 4-H. The consistent meetings and demands on my children and myself as a single parent…..yep….my only two gripes I guess. Nothing a hockey mom or ballet mom doesn’t struggle with, right? I get razzed a lot for being a 4-H mom. The manure, the dust, the rubber boots, etc….but to be honest, 4-H is amazing. For my children and for me. They learn how to treat animals properly, agriculturally, realistically…….they learn about show, meat, farm, what it takes to raise livestock to feed a family or a community. They take pride in clipping, shearing, showing and handling. The public speaking and judging are mandatory to complete the 4-H year and anyone who knows me knows my girl struggled…..for some it is easy…..regardless, the lesson is confidence and sound decision making. Isn’t that totally horrible to know how what you eat is raised and cared for? To know different diseases and conditions of animals? To go meet and learn from professionals about care and professionalism in agriculture? To learn rationale for making sound choices? Terrible right? My club has such dedicated 4-H parents. They give so much so all of our kids can learn. Walking into that non livestock barn blew me away…….the welding, cake decorating, photography, rug hooking, metal craft work, gardening, sewing, woodworking…..an endless display of talent and creativity sans hashtag. Good for you kids, good for the livestock kids too. I’d much rather watch you professionally dressed showing me the absolute difficult task of showing a meat lamb to its best advantage than to seeing you hanging out on the streets at your disadvantage.

  91. As a young adult that just spent her first year out of 4-H at the county fair, I can still vividly remember the feeling as an 8 year old being picked in the top 10 in the market steer show. The hours of tears and frustration at home trying to work with a large animal that didn’t want to be anywhere near me vanished from my mind as the overwhelming feeling of accomplishment spread across my face and brought tears to my eyes. Feeling that accomplished is something that can take people an entire lifetime to develop, but the 4-H program made that possible for me at 8. That feeling drove me to work harder, to aspire to greater things, and to push myself just as hard in every aspect of my life. Now, at the age of 20, I have a larger and more impressive resume than some people twice my age. I learned more from exhibiting livestock than I ever did siting in a desk. Sure, I bawled every year when my steer got loaded on the truck. But would you expect anything less from someone parting with something that they had spent close to a year taking care of and bonding with? I learned that at the end of the day, as sad as it may seem, cattle were placed on this earth to be a food source. I learned what it meant to have responsibility and have hard work pay off. The type of people that are developed and produced by the 4-H programs are the type of people this world needs.

  92. Omg! What wonderful memories Mark and I have of being in 4-H. We met at the county fair ! We still are friends with the people met through 4-H and I can’t imagine my children then growing up any where else besides being on a farm and all the wonderful times, friends, and experiences they got to have because of 4-H. I hope our 4 grandchildren also get the wonderful experience too!

  93. 4-H was an integral part of our lives. Thank you to our amazing extension office for supporting my children. Jan without you I would have never gotten the right stuff in at the right time. Wendy without you my girls would have been put in unsafe situations. Wendy, you are such an upifter and support for me I will forever appreciate your support. Cheryl your direction and organization kept all of it flowing. I can not express the gratitude I have towards 4-H. To all the amazing friends I have made and my children have made, I love you.
    Kelly thank you for sharing your story.

  94. I grew up in 4 -H on the farm in a foster home and I am who I am today cause of it. I’ve worked 42yrs. And I have a very strong work ethic and responsibilitie

  95. 4-H was a vital part of my life. 4-H gave me a broad range of opportunity and education so I could improvise in my future.
    My Mother was a leader for over 20 years.My education was consequential to projects not only I became involved with, but also other members. I not only learned about cooking and sewing, public speaking and responsibility, but many other things I would not have been involved in at the time. I learned how to bathe a baby, how to wire a light, animal care, dog training, bird and tree identification, gardening and educating other youth.
    We did not go on vacations when I was a child. 4-H broadened my horizons with the trips we had to earn. Albany, Washington DC, my exchange trip to live with a family in New Jersey, and the National Food Conference in Minneapolis as well as 4-H camp as a camper and an employee all provided me with new information to ponder.
    Community members took time to work with the 4-H Youth. The Kiwanis taught me about raising gladiolas. I can’t say I still raise the flowers, but I did learn about more than the flowers – I learned about community organizations, of which I had no prior awareness. I am so thankful for the Kiwanis member’s time and education.
    Other things I learned came not only from my experiences, but others included the time our dining room table was painted by a member while he was working on his project. Although the mistake was irritating to my Mom, I learned how to be thankful the member learned from that project and the rest of us learned why certain rules are in place when doing a project. My Mother respected the member’s innocence and we learned to respect other’s property. Disappointment about not getting the award trip or ribbon at the fair we hoped, taught us to work harder to do a better job.
    4-H helped provide the well for our property. My siblings learned by preparing and entering items in the fair. The money they earned went toward the well being dug so our home had running water – something the neighbors did not have.
    The last couple years of high school, I became a leader so some of the local girls could have a group they could join. Paying back to our community is a lesson that I feel is critical. Today we are so busy, we rarely take time to pay back by helping the youth of today have a broad variety of learning experiences. Pass on opportunity – open the eyes of others so they realize they can try something very different, and succeed.

  96. My entire family was involved in 4-H growing up and it was the best thing our parents could have done for us. We learned a good work ethic, responsibility, leadership skills, organizational skills, presentation and speaking skills, not to mention the great bonding experience it was for our whole family to be involved in activities where we could all participate at the same time. I am currently a 4-H leader and all of my children were 4-H members for 10 years. They met so many amazing people and spent hours together in the barn taking care of their animal projects which taught them a number of life skills. They also had clothing projects, cooking projects, photography projects, art projects, and heritage projects. They all improved their speaking skills by presenting speeches at the county, district and state levels as well as learning leadership skills at the club meetings by being club officers and learning parliamentary procedure. They were able to see this great country of ours as they traveled to Washington D.C. as well as other cities on the Citizenship Washington Focus trip which was extremely educational. As you can see, 4-H is about so much more than the care and showing of animals. It teaches children life skills and how to be a good citizen. They were involved in a number of community service projects through their club and learned how to respect others as well as adults in all of their activities. I can’t even begin to explain the value that 4-H offers our youth today, no matter if they are living in a rural or an urban environment. Those who are criticizing the 4-H program because they think it desensitizes our children to the killing of animals are grossly misinformed. In order to feed the people in our country and in our world, we need animal proteins to accomplish this daunting task. It’s not cruel, it’s a fact of life. I am so thankful that myself as well as my children were able to have 4-H in their lives. It made them better people and better citizens and it would be a travesty to ever lose this amazing organization. It would only hurt our world, not help it.

  97. I was a 4-H’er from the age of 5 to 19. I credit 4-H for making me the person I am today. I had to give demonstrations in front of peers, I showed cattle, hogs and sheep, I crafted, and I sewed. There are many life skills within each of these projects that are often over looked. I am thankful and appreciative of everything I have learned. I have children that are now actively involved in the local organization, and I a thankful for all of the opportunities!!

  98. My kids have been in 4-h for years. We are vegetarians and would never kill an animal. We own goats, chickens and ducks for pets. Our 4-h club is very active in helping out our local community. Our biggest fundraiser raises over $1000 annually which goes to a local goat rescue. All 4-h clubs aren’t about raising animals for food. There are clubs about cooking, sewing, showing dogs and cats, and many more humane activities.

  99. If I had not been in 4-H, I don’t know what I would be doing. I started showing dairy heifers when I was in 3rd grade. I continued showing every year,until my parents sold their cattle.
    Through 4-H I was able to to join a program that allowed me to raise and show a heifer for 2 years before selling her at the fair auction. Part of the program requirements included going to monthly meetings on animal husbandry, management, nutrition, health, and showing. In the program, each participant earned half the money from selling “their” heifers.
    With the proceeds from the auction, I started buying my own heifers while still in middle school! My small herd helped me pay for college. I now own a large herd and work for a university where I help teach some of the basic principles that 4-H taught me.
    1) Animals deserve our care and respect.
    2) We as caretakers are responsible for feeding, watering, and the health of our animals.
    3) If an animal is unhappy it is our responsibility to figure out why and solve the problem.
    4) The time and care we put into our animals is the same amount of time and care we expect from our families.
    5) If we don’t take care of our animals, we can’t expect them to produce for us.

  100. 4H was horrible for me too. I was forced to learn responsibility. Because I had livestock as well as other projects, I was also forced to learn organizational skills to keep all records in order. I was hoodwinked into learning to speak publicly. I was a shy child, and liked it that way! Worst of all, I had no choice but to learn to stomach that hard work does pay off, and offers reward…. I for one am grateful for the things I was able to learn. They were the sturdy foundation on which I was able to build upon for adulthood. I am sorely disappointed in the local 4H in the county where I reside at this time. Growing up, I lived in an agricultural area. Our county fair was a big deal. So much so, that every school in the county closed down due to the high number of students who woukd be sleeping in livestock barns for the week (fair was in early September).the friendships we developed sleeping in those barns were amazing. Late nights laughing, caring for animals, prepping for the next day, helping one another prepare, even though we were competing against one another, and cheering one another on in every event. Those friendships introduced us to other options in the world of 4H as well, as we traveled the grounds to cheer on our new found friends. I currently live in a more developed county, and it breaks my heart to see the lack of events available, the opportunities the kids here don’t get, and the lack of participation in what little is here. To anyone thinking about getting their kids involved, please do it. You don’t have to have livestock to compete. But the lessons your kids learn will build a foundation that will benefit them for years to come.

  101. As a youth I was involved in 4-H for 5 years. Now I am a mom of 4 and our club organizational leader. Our club not only focuses on our individual projects but throughout the year we also do many service projects that the youth take more interest in then their own records. We have been known raise $2000 in 2 hours for a community that was flooded with 8 – 10 feet of water. Rescue Dogs from a shelter when the only home they knew (the shelter) was flooded with 5 feet of water. Every year we put on a rabies clinic with the local vet. This past year they raised $450 for a former club member that none of them knew to help with his expenses as he was sick with brain cancer. They also raised $618 for a boy from this community that had to have a kidney transplant. If anything 4-H has taught our group of kids and other 4-H youth the generosity to give to others. Don’t get me wrong they do end up doing their records but it takes time. My kids take pride in their animals. My 16 year old daughter has been in 4-H for 8 years and for the past 5 years she has been raising her own sheep herd along with for the past 3 years her own beef cattle herd. These 2 herds are what is going to help put her through collage. Her younger sister (a 5 year member) and twin brothers (4 year members) all have their own sheep and beef cattle herds. They started their sheep herds from her sheep that she sold to them. Along with raising their own herds my 16 year old has also taken over the Toys for Tots program in her teen leadership program. This year she plans to take it on along with getting our Stir-Ups competition back up and going. All my kids willingly help all the other sheep kids at fair by slick shearing their sheep and teaching them how to. So when someone says that 4-H kids don’t care they had better check again. While yes they produce an animal for market and earn money off of that animal doesn’t mean that they don’t care. There are a lot of wet red eyed kids on the last day of fair when they say their good byes and clean out empty stalls. They care but they also know that the animal was raised to teach them about business, marketing, herdsmanship, communication, appreciation, and many other skills that will help them decide what and were they want to attend collage. It also helps them with a future job. While people who don’t understand what 4-H is truly about it is our responsibility as past, present, & future 4-H members to teach them.

  102. Your article is right on spot. I was in both 4-H and FFA and I had more pride in wearing my FFA jacket because I earned it thru education to this day I wish I could find my FFA PIN. 4-H TAUGHT me how to take care of animals and held me accountable to it. More kids need to rejoin these organizations today just to learn what it really means to learn and be responsible. I woke up at 4 am to go to horse shows and judging shows and we learned as a group together to work together. Thank you for speaking up. I became a Animal Control Officer and protect animals.i am able to deal with humans and animals that most of society spend money giving to corporations for doing. Thank god they did teach me to see what you call the bad it gives me the mind,stomach and strength to do it.

  103. Hello. My husband and I are avid 4H supporters. I volunteer in my niece’s horse 4H group, and we mentor children with their market steers. We teach them the importance of love and respect for all animals. I watch the young kids come at the beginning of the project, scared or nervous, and see them at the end, brimming with confidence and new skills. They learn that hard work brings results and where food actually comes from. There are tears when it’s time to say good bye to their steers, but we tell them that they made a difference. They gave a steer a wonderful life, with a child to love them and make them important. When you give your heart, it hurts, but you did it right. To watch a child show an animal with love in both their eyes is the greatest reward.

  104. I did 4-H as a young girl. I showed poultry and did very well. All of the waking up early, going to meetings, and learning to be an organized, responsible person made me a better being. I was never and still to this day am not “desensitized” to killing animals. My family hand raised and butchered about 60 meat birds every year. I always felt a tug in my heart for them but at the same time realized that this is how we sustain a growing world. I raise rabbits now and own a small rabbitry in Spokane, Wa! You should check out our website at maplehillsrabbitry.com πŸ™‚ Wonderful article and when I have kids, I will push them to join 4-H just as my mother did to me.

  105. Most have already said it – – – what would my life been like, had I not been in 4-H? Being a 4-H parent was like having a dream come true, as both children became national winners. But, even better than that has been being a volunteer 4-H leader for more than 50 years!!!!!!

  106. I couldn’t agree more that 4-H is wonderful. I had to work hard and learn new skills… I loved every minute.
    I learnt how to be a leader and teach younger 4-H members about outdoor living tasks like setting up camp in the bush with nothing more than what nature offered, taught ways to tie knots, and I watched as others learnt through the various programs on self image, small engine mechanics and even cooking modules.
    4-H taught me a lot and got me spending time with other kids in my area!

  107. Kelly,
    There is little disagree with in your post except the way it was written. Two things to consider. First, sarcasm, when used in writing, must be done with great care as not everybody reading it understands it as sarcasm. I think those of us living under the 4-H umbrella get it, but it can be too easily misunderstood by others. My second point is related. For those of us who read lots of news articles and blogs, we often read first paragraphs or even just headlines. I know it was not your intent, but outsiders who notice the headline “4-H is evil and bad for kids” may pass on with that thought planted in their memories. Even the lead sentence, with its sarcasm, might leave outside readers wondering why we tolerate 4-H. Similarly, the badly used 4-H promotion line that, “4-H isn’t all cows and cooking” is meaningless to anybody unfamiliar with 4-H. They still don’t know what 4-H is but now they know it has something to do with cows and cooking. Unless we are careful, our writing can have unintended results.
    Eric

    • Hi Eric,

      I knew the risk I was taking when I wrote this post 3 years ago — the intent was to grab the attention of audience unfamiliar with 4-H, who might be looking up “why 4-H is evil” and similar searches. At the time, it worked. Now, there’s a new wave of attention coming in from people, familiar with 4-H. In my opinion, the responsibility to read fully and attentively is on the reader. At the time of publishing, it got a decent chunk of traffic and I received several emails (not comments, emails) regarding changed minds on 4-H. I appreciate your concerns, but I won’t apologize for my tactics.

      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts!

      • Kelly,
        The fact that the post is still getting traffic now says a lot about the staying power of the topic. Well done. I do disagree that responsibility for the message lies only with the reader. (I’m not sure that is what you said but may have been me reading between the lines.) Our responsibility to craft the message in a way that guides our readers is first and foremost.
        Yours in 4-H,
        Eric

      • We have a responsibility to write for our goals. I achieved those goals at the time of publication. The current wave off virality was never my intent. I came at this post with a mind for search engine optimization and reaching a new audience with the message of 4-H. Let’s agree to disagree here.

  108. Every summer for 11 years, 4-H was the “center” of my life! It was the ’60’s and growing up on a farm, work was what a “kid” did…you contributed to the family! By my baking, cooking, food preservation projects, I was a helping my mother. When I learned to sew, my wardrobe ‘grew’ through my own efforts. Yes, it was judged, but I learned to make a quality product — not just a project. My family did not travel, so National 4-H Leadership in Washington DC was WONDERFUL! It has been 45+ years since that experience and I continue to be friends with half (yes half) of those people on our trip! My “demonstration” skills learned through 4-H helped me in a Health Career—also I ‘sold’ a home demonstration product (tupperware) and had confidence and organization learned in 4-H. Now, I see Extension professionals working in the schools…as well as Quilts of Valor—community outreach! We learned by doing and the memories are priceless! The adults who were my leaders—a much belated Thank You! My Junior Leader friends—we did create wonderful memories! To the University Extension Services — keep up the good work! KIDS are an investment in our future and it returns great rewards! THANKS!

  109. I am a 4-H survivor as well. Allowed me to learn skills in public speaking and animal husbandry. My career is in veterinary medicine. I look back on my 4-H experiences as being instrumental in the development of the confidence needed to pursue my education. My mother was also in 4-H and in the club meeting in Clarion, Iowa that helped design the 4-H emblem. Unfortunately she was in a mixed marriage because my Dad was in FFA and also a veterinarian.

  110. 4 H was a very wonderful part of my childhood, while I didn’t have livestock of any kind, I learned life skills through the different projects that were offered. sewing, cooking, and dog project. I brought home many blue ribbons from the time I was 9 years old. I learned how to properly conduct a meeting, and had the time of my life as a Jr Leader. I got to know more “farm kids” and how livestock was used for food, the animals were always treated well. I learned time management, that I absolutely hate hate HATE talking in public, but the proper way to do it.

  111. I grew up around 4H it kept me busy and kept me out of trouble I never use drugs or drink. 4H is not all about just the animals there are a lot of different things you could do in 4-H wold work, welding, Leathercraft, ceramics, baking, cake decorating, sewing, photography, and so many more. It teaches you responsibility how to handle things and deal with them how to accomplish different things make different types of stuff and do it on your own. I never used a type of drug I didn’t see the point because of the way I was raised and 4-H had a big part of that. Look at kids nowadays all they care about is drinking and doing drugs if you look at the kids that are involved in 4-H they don’t. The kids in 4H are outside doing something they’re not in the house playing games on their phones.

  112. This is a well written article. Thank you for sharing.

    4-H not only helped me become an articulate speaker, organized, and responsible, but creative. 4-H has very few rules for how a project needs to be done. They give you information on the topic and an example of an end result. The middle part is up to the student. Having to figure out how to get from A to B helped me learn how to problem-solve, which was an essential skill when I went to college. There are not very many classrooms that are going to give a student that kind of hands on experience.

  113. Great article! I believe animals should be treated well in life and death, and a common thread in the article and comments is “humane slaughter”. Can you expound on this concept? What is the “humane slaughter” process? How are the animals slaughtered differently than the animals destined for the shelves of the grocery store?

  114. This article is perfeclty said!!!! 4-H teaches us sooo much it is an invaluable tool! I was in from 8-18, and it they were some of the most memoraable years of my life. The opportunitiesand things that i got to experience and do, most have never dreamed of doing or cant even imagine doing. I am now a mother of a 14 year old whonhas also been involved in 4-H since she was 8 and is loving every monute of it!!! Like you said so well, read the pledge….so evil right!!! Great article!!! Thank you so much for making others aware of the vaules that 4-H is giving youth, both past and present!!! πŸ€

  115. Reblogged this on Pancho and the Mule and commented:
    My nieces are in 4H and I am routinely surprised at some of the negative commentary I hear from people who – apparently – have no first-hand experience with the organization. This blog post is a response to that negative commentary, and I say well-done. – RJK

  116. This was wonderful to read. It took me back to the days as a child, living with my cousins in Western Idaho on their ranch/farm outside Payette, while my family relocated to the area. They were very involved in 4H. Later, I participated in many programs sponsored by the 4H and our local extension service office. It wasn’t all about cows and pigs and cooking. We had bicycle safety and maintenance and other interests to pursue as well. It’s a wonderful opportunity!

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