Does 4-H desensitize kids to killing?
June 23rd, 2011
11:00 AM ET
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What do farmers have to say about agriculture issues? Hear it straight from them in Farmers With Issues.

4-H stands for "Head, heart, hands, health" and apparently a fifth - for "haters."

To many, 4-H Clubs are all about nurturing sweet little calves, adorable children winning ribbons, urban garden patches and proud future farmers grooming prized pigs for show. To others, it's a calculated system for turning the youth of America into cold, unfeeling animal killers.

When Eatocracy ran a 5@5 feature with chef Kelly Liken on the topic of Five Reasons to Buy from Your Local 4-H earlier this week, we quickly identified within the comments two distinct perceptions of the organization - which was originally set up by the United States Department of Agriculture to train the rural youth of America in hands-on skills like agriculture and raising animals. One was that 4-H promotes responsible animal husbandry and the cultivation of food resources in a responsible, ethical way and the other was that it serves to desensitize children to the suffering of animals.

Here's what commenters to that article had to say:

In cold blood

I don't and would never support the 4-H. This group helps desensitize youngsters into having no emotional attachment to animals raised for food. For those who say no one should have attachment to animals raised for food, I say "of course". This is how the meat industry stays in business. If children are raised to love all animals and not try to see them as products, they would not be interested in seeing them killed. "Listening to the auctioneer and seeing how excited the children get when their animal is purchased is an incredibly fulfilling experience."

Really? Incredibly fulfilling experience. You mean knowing the animal that trusted you from birth is off to be mistreated before being slaughtered! That's fulfilling? Maybe that's because the 4-H has successfully desensitized these children who may have once be appalled by this. It's simply horrific. Shame on you 4-H for what you do to animals and to children. - Heather King

Education, not desensitization

What 4-H does do is promote responsible animal husbandry and the cultivation of food resources in a responsible, ethical way. I accept your position that any killing of animals for food is, in your position, not ethical or moral, however most of us are omnivores and I for one would rather that those producing the meat I choose to eat do so in a humane and ethical way. I respect your position, but I would also hope that you would rather see people brought up to understand, and therefore demand, that there an ethical way to treat an animal even if that animal's eventual purpose is the nourishment of a human being.

Desensitization is the wrong word–education is the right word. These kids (I was one) are not at all desensitized to the process–rather, they are educated about proper raising and care of these animals. Not only was I a member, but growing up we also purchased meat and produce from 4H and FFA members–talk about locally sourced! We could be confident in the quality, origin, and raising of these products in a way we can rarely be in a supermarket. - Value rather than desensitization

A lasting impact

Have you ever been at a 4-H auction? Most of the younger kids end up crying after their animal gets bought and not donated back. As they grow older, they wrap their head around the idea, but when they're first starting out they have a hard time accepting it. It doesn't mean they're "desensitized" to it, it's the fact they they've matured and understand that animal's purpose more as time goes on. - Brianna

The circle of life

Someone asked earlier in the thread how many 4-H kids had actually seen an animal slaughtered. In my club back home (rural Sierra Nevadas), the answer was ALL OF US. We toured the packing houses where our animals would later be slaughtered (note packing HOUSES, as these buildings housed perhaps thirty head at an outside estimate, nowhere near large enough to call a "processing plant"), examined carcasses, viewed the taking of animals lives and the bloodletting afterwards, and were given briefings on the saws and tools used. This while spending hours a day bathing, training, feeding and cleaning up after our own still very alive animals. - 4-H fo'sho'

The value of life

It is really so unevolved. Why are people proud that the kids are crying as they lead their animals onto the trailer to be killed for food? You are teaching them that relationships are disposable. That animals are disposable. NOT A GOOD LESSON, and these poor animals raised as pets are off to the slaughterhouse where they will be tortured before they die. - Kathy

It keeps them off the streets

Small scale food-animal raisers aren't cold blooded killers, they're making money doing what they enjoy doing. If anyone is desensitized to animal life, go to Youngstown [ed: where the commenter grew up] and talk to all the thugs on the street that grew up around murders happening weekly. THEN you'll find someone who doesn't value human or animal life.

If I have kids, you bet they'll be in 4-H. I'd rather see them doing that than doing what most of the people I grew up with did. Kids deserve more of a chance than what drugs, crime and partying can offer them. - Brianna

It should be noted that animal husbandry and sales are only a portion of what 4-H Clubs do. Other former members spoke of "arts and crafts like pottery, painting; outdoor activities like camping, canoeing, kayaking, rock climbing, and...skills like woodworking and leather-working" as well as horse showing and "cooking, photography, jewelry making" and others. Still, with the issue of animal raising and slaughter on the table, we'd like to know what you think in the comments below.

Previously - A day two pigs would die: ethical slaughter

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Filed under: Animal Rights • Buzz • Farmers with Issues • Food Politics • From the Comments • Local Food • Vegan

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    October 10, 2014 at 5:50 pm |
  2. Gabrielle Koltiska

    I am a nine year 4-H member and a four year FFA member. I have raised, and sold livestock, for all 9 years. Those people who view the 4-H and FFA's livestock sales as desensitizing, don't understand the view point from those who are showing, and selling the livestock. And the truth of the matter is, without livestock producers, people would be missing a vital ingredient in a healthy body, as well as a lot blander world. Those who but meat from the store may not understand the production side. That's what FFA and 4-H are about when it comes to livestock. Agriculturists feed the world. Are we being desensitized? No. I feel that we are just learning the basic matters of livestock production. If you have a problem with that, then don't allow your kids to do 4-H or FFA, and don't go to a sale or support 4-H or FFA. We don't need people who don't understand the livestock industry. We,as members, have many supporters and are very thankful! But please don't bash something that you don't understand from the inside. All people and how they grow up and are raised, are different. I'll keep living my life raising livestock to sell at the 4-H and FFA sale, and produce livestock for my little sisters and eventually my kids.

    September 21, 2014 at 11:04 pm |
  3. Dylan

    Woah guys, this is an idiotic premature idea of 4-H! I am a member. Animals are treated better being the pet of 4-hers. The animals are not tortured. Yes animals are donated for meat, but it is willingly, the 4-her doesn't learn that relationships are irrelevant. One of 4-hs goals is to make relationships for everyone and animal better. What would happen if no one was taught how to keep animals? There would not be enough food for humans. Would you be willing to risk your future by shouting down a program like this? Are you willing to go hungry? In the end if 4-h is shut down the skill s of providing food for your family will only die out slowly as less and less people do it. There would not be enough food for our growing number of humans, would you risk shouting down a program that helps provide food? Do you want to be the reason humanity ends? The reason for the apocalypse? Currently 4-hers are only learning how to provide for themselves in the future, and while they do that they are helping provide for others. The meat that comes from the animals that get slaughtered goes to the food bank. When we are fighting about things like world hunger why ask to remove something that can help cure it? Now no person ever said that they wanted 4-h shut down but if everyone out there is going to hate on it then say "oh no! Africans need food!" They are just being stupid. Everyone knows the risks that are involved in getting food. The killing of animals has always been the number one way to get food. Do you know what happens to animals not cared for by 4-hers? Do you know why our food is larger than any normal animal? Animals that are raised specifically for food are taken to laboratories and pumped up with chemicals that not only hurt the animal but make it fatter and more delicious for humans to eat. This article was obviously written by a few people that are hating on 4-h. People that didn't even take the time to research what 4-h is really about, and if that's not the case these people know it and are only posting the parts that could be considered bad and they are exaggerating. It is the job of most reporters and other journalists to exaggerate something into a story. Never believe what someone told you on the internet unless every fact out in the real world says they are right.

    4-h is a good program that helps youth learn how to live life to the fullest with leadership skills, other skill s for life etc. It does not only have livestock but it also has over 20 other programs too. Photography, rocketry, leadership, fine arts, dancing, programming, robotics,etc. Nothing in 4-h originated in 4-h, a 4-her didn't invent the computer. A 4-her didn't invent slaughter. A 4-her didn't invent dancing. A 4-her is just a person who has a goal to change the world. Make the best better. 4-h is the safe place for youth to learn to become an adult. 4-h isn't just a program, it is almost like a family. I am friends with 4-hers all across my state. We are great friends. Now what is wrong with a program that takes everything our country desires to the next level?

    September 18, 2014 at 8:05 pm |
  4. crunchydoc

    If you are going to eat meat, someone has to raise it and kill it. I think the problem is we are hiding the truth of it from kids. Parents are quick to stop at McDonalds for hamburgers and chicken nuggets but no one wants to talk about the conditions the cow and chicken lived in while it was alive. How we raise our food, what we feed it, how kind we are to it, the amount of stress it endures, impacts nutritional quality. I'd eat a 4-H cow over a McDonald's cow any day. Its time we talk about the reality of eating meat and take responsibility for the unethical treatment of animals in the industrialized food system.

    September 18, 2014 at 7:33 am |
  5. Bruce Welty

    Must be underwritten by PETA.

    September 17, 2014 at 8:16 pm |
  6. Eric Vogel

    A previous post referred to a study done by the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University. "The Positive Development of Youth: Comprehensive Findings from the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development" is a longitudinal study that began in 2002 and was repeated annually for eight years, surveying more than 7,000 adolescents from diverse backgrounds across 42 U.S. states. Among the findings, 4-H'ers are about:
    Four times more likely to make contributions to their communities (Grades 7-12);
    Two times more likely to be civically active (Grades 8-12);
    Two times more likely to make healthier choices (Grade 7);
    Two times more likely to participate in Science, Engineering and Computer Technology programs during out-of-school time (Grades 10 – 12); and
    4-H girls are two times more likely (Grade 10) and nearly three times more likely (Grade 12) to take part in science programs compared to girls in other out-of-school time activities.

    September 17, 2014 at 9:10 am |
  7. Lily Berghorn

    This is definatley NOT what 4-H is about im a member and I know first hand EVERYONE gets attached to their animals so no, we aren't desensitized. And also, 4h animals are treated 100000x better than the animals used for meat at the grocery store. So think before you judge the agricultural business because we are the ones feeding YOU.

    September 16, 2014 at 6:00 pm |
  8. BJ

    CNN why do you fail to put the findings of the Tuff survey out for people to read? Are you afraid that the fact the 4-H youth are more community mind is disturbing? Or does the fact that there is less high school dropout by those involved in 4-H and less teen pregnancy bother you? Perhaps the fact that there is a greater return on the dollar in the 4-H program over Boys Scouts, Girls Scouts, Boys & Girls Club, etc. is disturbing.

    News reporting has become a very sad situation when you have to attack a program that teaches life skills and community focus.

    September 16, 2014 at 1:21 pm |
  9. Hannah

    I have for one have been in or around 4-H for my whole life. I believe in God. I believe that God created everyone and everything for a specific reason. Some roles that things play may be harsh at times, like the killing of animals on a daily basis. Let me tell you one thing, most Americans eat meat. If they find killing animals so harsh then why aren't we herbivores, or why is hunting legal. It's the way of life. It's how the world goes round. 4-H is probably the best thing that has happened to me. I learned responsibility, ownership, how to care, and how to take on the real life struggles. It is stated above that 4-H'ers do not care for there animals nor do they mourn the loss of the animals. These animals are not just animals they are friends and pets to my fellow 4-H'ers. You have to see them every day and they come to know who you are and they fall in love with you just like you fall in love with them. As time goes on you get attached. You worked so hard to get these animals to where they are. You go and show them because you are proud of what you raised. You want to feel accomplished by someone telling you that you did a good job raising an animal. Then sale day is the hardest day of fair. Similarly, funerals are the hardest things in life. But life goes on though. Not every one can live forever. Therefore I come to the conclusion that 4-H has nothing bad about it's main point. It's about using the things God gave you. Head, heart, hands, and health-to help your community, your country, and your world.

    September 16, 2014 at 12:15 am |
  10. Kayla

    When I think back about my experience in 4-H, I think of how I learned to be a leader, how I grew to believe in myself, how I learned to problem-solve, budget and be responsible for others. Yeah, I raised a pig for the market every year. And through doing that, I was able to make enough money to buy my electric guitar (which was my dream from like age 3). I also raised dairy goats who were my pets and never went to the slaughter house. I showed them every year at the fair. I outlived all of my goats but they were nurtured and cared for until the end, and then we buried them in our "dog" cemetery. I also experienced helping my surrounding community and supporting small business and local economies. But the biggest thing that sticks out in my memories of 4-H is that I learned how to be a leader, how to inspire others, and how to believe in myself. The people who wrote the comments against 4-H have no idea what the program is about. And as a side note, it's better to know and understand where your meat comes from. Regardless, that is such a small part of 4-H. Yes, the program began as an agricultural program (which also includes growing crops and vegetables, not just slaughtering animals), but it has grown to achieve and mean so much more than that.

    September 15, 2014 at 3:02 pm |
  11. RealRanchers

    Children, who are able to rise, care for, sell and send their livestock projects to market learn the value and respect of life at an early age. I have personally came to the realization that many people will not understand my way of life, or that of a 4-H or FFA member, but they also don't realize how much responsibility we take to make sure your lives are easier.

    I urge you to learn more about agriculture from a producer’s standpoint and take the initiative to learn from personal experience and not through the media. I have no doubt that a 4-H or FFA member would love the opportunity to speak to those who are curious about their livestock projects and what they have learned during their time in these organizations. I believe that you, CNN and CNN followers, would be amazed how capable, smart, kind and overall humane these kids are to their livestock projects. These children will eventually grow up, take over their families operation and feed your child's family. Luckily for them, they can have the convenience of buying from a grocery store because of these future agriculturalists.

    September 15, 2014 at 11:30 am |
  12. Erica Peterson

    I have been a 4-H since I was eight but I was involved long before that. My family was involved and there is much more to livestock then that. It teaches you how to take care of the animal and I was well aware of what had to be done. At first I didn't understand but when I sat down to dinner that night and ate a hamburger I understood that livestock are not pets they are meant for food. That's what most people don't understand is that cattle, sheep, goats and hogs are meant to be eaten. I learned that at a very early age. 4-H was and still is the best organization that I have been apart of

    September 15, 2014 at 12:12 am |
  13. Barbara

    Raising an animal teaches a child the value of life and to respect that, both in reference to animals as well as human. We would have a lot less school shooters, and murders if those people were taught to respect the value of all lives. I haven't heard of a school shooter being a 4-h member, maybe you have. If more people educated themselves to the fact that animals do not reason, and their responses are to repetitive stimuli, we may be able to have a factual discussion rather than the continual emotional baseless blather spurted by the animal emotionalists.

    September 14, 2014 at 11:11 pm |
  14. Valerie

    I will chime in as well as a previous 4Her and as a child who saw their cows butchered every year. I didnt raise animals for meat for 4H, but I did show horses. I had plenty of friends who raised animals for meat and my parents raised a steer or two every year for OUR meat. Every year we knew when the butcher was coming and would get ready to watch. The steer was fed its "last meal" and then shot. We watched as it was butchered (oh and all those you tube videos that shows the animals "moving" while being butchered. You know the ones that claim that the animal is moving in response to pain since its still conscious. Well I have seen a cow move after the head was removed. Not alive, just nerves firing) We were educated on WHERE our food came from and to have respect for them and to be thankful.

    Also my three children will be raising sheep and steers to sell. 4H is an invaluable learning experience for children. To be responsible for something 24/7 and to see it to the end. Yes its for profit for the kids, but ohh look it teaches them to budget as well... what a horrible horrible program

    September 14, 2014 at 10:34 pm |
  15. katherine siegmann

    It amazes me that city people have a fit when they see kids at fairs with their animals that go to market and throw a fit saying how cruel it is yet they eat what we bring to market . I once had a lady that threw a fit about me selling our sheep she threatened me throough emails and calls .so I asked her if she ate meat she said yes I buy it from wal-mart and I asked her well do you know where that meat comes from and she said the warehouse .I then asked her do you know where it comes from before there she said off the trucks and I said yes and by the way those trucks pick up the meat from meat plants that butcher the cows that we send to there for America to eat the meat you buy in Wal-Mart and krogers and all the other stores that americans go to buy their groceries from .it amazes me that they will say it is cruel to kill sheep and cows and pigs for meat and have no idea what they are buying are the exact thing they are complaining about so people who want to complain about us raising these animals to go to market stop going to restuarants stop going to stores to buy food or buy clothes because you cant have it both ways are people that stupid

    September 14, 2014 at 3:19 pm |
    • Jenn

      thank you

      September 14, 2014 at 11:41 pm |
  16. Jo-Lynne

    CNN: I will repeat what others have said. You should be ashamed with this article. Do you realize that agriculture provides most food that we eat? 4H promotes active citizenship, positive youth development and a bright future for members. This article is inappropriate. Perhaps some of your staff that were involved in this should become a 4H member or leader to understand the organization?
    On a side note, agriculture controls North American economy. If it were not for agriculture there would not be food. Even if you are vegan; you need some sort of grain to support your diet.

    September 14, 2014 at 1:06 pm |
  17. Pam

    CNN should be ashamed! Media these days need to go back to the days they researched the subject before they "printed" articles. For all who have praised 4-H all I can say is amen! I have two daughters both very involved in 4-H. One working one her masters in Equine nutrition, a professional horse trainer, horse show judge, and livestock judge. All learned at least partially in 4-H. We have raised sheep, pigs, cattle, horses, dogs, and rabbits as 4-H projects. Also have done studies in Forestry, noxious weeds, leather craft and dog training. I wish my parents had known about 4-H. My daughters have won multiple awards in horses, cattle, sheep and dog training. All of our dogs have been through the 4-H dog program and are all well trained. Youngest is high point champion in horse shows on a $800 horse. She is current multiple grand champion with her lambs and steer. All done on a very limited budget. She is up early every morning to feed and work with her aminals. How many 17 yr olds not in 4-H or some similar program to you see up early and working hard. 4-H is a WONDERFUL program! And by the way, even my oldest cried when she was 18 when her animals went off to market. Because of all the up close and personal time they spend with their project animals they develop a great deal of love for their animals and respect. Shame on CNN!

    September 14, 2014 at 12:17 pm |
  18. Amy

    No! The crap in the movies, "reality" shows and the telivision shows do. 4H and FFA teach kids animal husbandry, agricultire, and the reality of micronutrients to table. If we had more kids who KNEW about farming and land conservancy we wouldn't be dealing with Con Agra frankencorn, the pollinator die-off, and veggies devoid of any nutrient content whatsoever due to steralized soil.

    September 14, 2014 at 10:18 am |
  19. Jena

    Wow I hope whoever wrote this is vegan and doesn't eat meat. If not, then these 4hers livestock have probably been on your table.

    I cannot believe CNN would post something like this. Just wow... There aren't even any facts

    September 14, 2014 at 9:01 am |
  20. Name*Jeanette

    CNN editors, really? Why would you republish a blog article that is largely emotion short on facts? As evidenced by the comments research was not complete. To be clear, I have just lost respect for your ability to present relevant news.
    I am, and will continue to support youth organizations that produce responsible members of our society, 4-H being just one of those.

    September 14, 2014 at 8:39 am |
  21. Proud 4-Her

    Until you are personally involved in 4-H your comments are invalid and uniformed! And just so you know a lot of these kids are the ones that will be producing the animals that provide your food for you in the future. And if it bothers you so much just remember when you go to Walmart and buy yourself a steak, hamburger, chicken, or pork you could be eating a 4-H animal that was shown or an animal that was raised by a 4-her! And by the way your welcome and anytime you want to do what we do please feel free to try it and see if your attitude changes!

    September 14, 2014 at 12:25 am |
  22. Maria

    CNN, you should be ashamed to publish this!!!! My children have always raised livestock for 4h and not one 4her that I know is heartless. This could not be further from the truth. Again, SHAME ON YOU

    September 14, 2014 at 12:19 am |
  23. Sharon Putney

    "Why do people kill animals for food? Why don't they buy store meat where no animals were hurt to make it?"

    Ignorance is bliss....

    September 13, 2014 at 8:25 pm |
  24. Martha Boyle

    This is the dumbest and most incorrect article I have read in years!!!

    September 13, 2014 at 5:55 pm |
  25. Julia

    There are just so many good things that I could say about 4-H and FFA! The values I learned are absolutely irreplaceable! As a former FFA queen and 4-H attendant to the Queen, i gained the skills to be a well rounded person. I had multiple horses and a rabbit that kept me busy while my friends were partying and in trouble. I was up at dawn and in bed early. I put everything I had into those projects! I was never desensitized to the fact that animals were killed to feed others. Its a fact of life. I am now on my way to being a 4-H advisor and hope to make the best better :)

    September 13, 2014 at 3:39 pm |
  26. Jake

    I am currently a 4-H member and very active in my community. When I was a small child, I was very shy and didn't want to be involved in anything or have friendships with people my age. Upon joining 4-H I was unable to communicate to a group or perform public speaking. In my 4-H career I have spoken to a group of over three hundred, am a leader in my my community and also have learned how fill out paperwork completely and to the best of my abilities. 4-H and FFA are the future of our nations agriculture and also one of the reasons that the US has such a high rate of families that have century farms. 4-H is also not just animals either, you can do a wide variety of projects (Woodworking, Shooting Sports, Sewing, Horticulture, Agriculture, and others too numerouts to list). I want my kids to be in 4-H so they know where their food comes from, I don't want to ask my kids where their food comes from and have them say the supermarket. We don't abuse our animals either like this article states. We groom them well and try for the ultimate Grand Champion Ribbons and even though these animals may be slaughtered at the end of the year, we learn that money spent may bring a profit, a loss or more hopefully a break even point. We put our sweat and tears into an animal that will hopefully do well enough a county fair to have pride in our accomplishments.

    September 13, 2014 at 2:49 pm |
  27. katherine siegmann

    REALLY people hate to tell you this but 4-h and FFA has been around for years and years matter a fact a lot of our presidents were in both . how do you eat without the farm and ranch people get over yourselves my kids were in both 4-h and ffa and its not about killing animals its about raising that animal right to feed America .without us you would starve do you think meat winds up in markets by magic no it takes a lot of time and knowledge to raise said animal weather it be a pig ,or cow or steer or bull or sheep or turkey or chicken or even rabbits .That's right America you eat what we raise . When you are sitting at the dinner table eating a thanksgiving dinner or Christmas dinner I don't see America complaining then . I don't see America screaming cruelty when they are in restuarants eating hamburgers that came from said cow or bull or steer . I don't see them turning the food away in the groceries stores or the diners or the famrers markets .my children and lots of other 4-h and ffa kids love their animals but they truly understand that the animal is raised for market what you all don't see is how much care +and responsibility it takes in raising those 4-h and ffa animals those animals are raised like queens and kings .they stay under fans in the barns or air conditioning they are bathed dailey they get the best of feeds at all times and care . I don't see a lot of regular animal owners going to this extreme to care for their animals they are not raised in a cruel way. .Rabbit meat is the best meat for a diabetic person as it is low in cholesterol .we are feeding America and we are helping America. try going without food for two days then see how you feel about 4-h and ffa we teach in 4-h and ffa the proper care of the animal and the way of farm and ranch life . keep running the ranchers and farmers out of business there will be no food because the normal American does not know how to raise said animals or a garden at that. they go buy everything from a grocery store . come spend a day on a farm or ranch see what happens before running your mouths on what goes on at ranches and farms . how many americans or other countries go to McDONALDS TO EAT DAILEY or other food places.guess what you are eating what we are supplying or by the way every person I know wheres clothes once again thank us farmers and ranchers for that without us there would be no clothes either . wool clothing comes from sheep or angora rabbits that's right you owe a big thankyou to all ranchers and farmers and also 4-h and ffa.By the way you are welcome.tell you what stop eating in mcdonalds and other restuarants stop buying clothes or sheets or anything else for that matter because one way or the other it all comes from us ranchers ,farmers ,4-h and FFA do you see the farmer ,ranchers and ffa or 4-h spending money day in and day out to feed the world no you don't . we raise our kids to know the meaning of life ,there is a circle of life we feed America and the world and you all eat and have clothes and furniture and you go on with life not wanting to understand without us there is no food or clothing .or other supplies. so next time you buy hamburger ,rack of lamb or pork chops or ribs or on the other end lettuce ,carrots, sugar, onions, or clothes and sheets and more it all comes from us one way or another.

    September 13, 2014 at 2:20 pm |
  28. Ashley

    When they say all kids are desensitized to the killing of animals, that's not true. When I was younger I cried when I sold my sheep and pigs at the fair; but in the process I learned where my food comes from. 4-H is a wonderful organization that helps teach kids about the importance of volunteering and taking care of animals.

    September 13, 2014 at 1:17 pm |
  29. Zach Shreve

    Listen up with all do respect. 4-H has helped me understand what I'm eating at the dinner table. People think that beef from the store just appears, it doesn't. I am now knowing of the RESPONSIBLITY of caring for QN animal that it the end will be used to nurture the body of someone. I know it doesn't sound good, but all the leather y'all is wearing was once that calve as well. My mind has been freed. Now, moving away from livestock 4-H has provided me the experience of meeting international friends along with friends from my home state that I will NEVER forget! Thank you from a West Virginian 4-Her!

    September 13, 2014 at 7:49 am |
  30. Willy

    Notice that farmers and ranchers don't write columns about how cities and urban life are destroying our country. We are busy growing their food and taking our kids to 4H meetings.

    September 13, 2014 at 5:25 am |
  31. Tom . ..Larson

    GOSH DARN RIGHT AND ABOUT TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 13, 2014 at 4:11 am |
  32. Lynne

    Wow.... Someone did not do their research... 4-H has quite a history and is really very diverse for starters. In 4-H I think I can say easily... we believe our youth are our legacy. We in 4-H use many different kind of projects because we have many different kinds of kids. It is not even so much what the project it photography, cooking, tractors, archery, flowers, horses, clothing, canning, cattle, sheep, poultry, dogs, cats, speaking, robotics, weaving, cavies, rabbits and many other such projects that all have one thing in common...learning. Kids learn hands on and by books and by example from older kids and people who are good in their project areas.Not all kids learn the same but all kids can learn and the older kids help teach the younger kids. They dont have to compete but they definitely can. They learn to keep records, to speak, to demonstrate what they have learned and then on top of that they do community service as well...they go see people in rest homes sometimes making them lap blankets or even bring them a petting zoo so they can maybe once again pet a horse or hold a rabbit..they rake someone's yard who cannot , they fix up a community garden or help paint a barn....they learn to be caring and compassionate and they even learn what it feels like to finish last in a competition and then come back and finish first because they dont give up...they have friendships that will last a life time and many will always know how to grow a garden and raise some livestock and be able to feed their families with things they produce on their own land... and they learn how to be better consumers as well and seek out the answers to questions they have like "What is 4-H??? I can tell you that most who were in 4-H could of done a pretty good job at answering that question far better than what this article did! I tell ya I I am very proud to have grown up in 4-H and to have my children belong to clubs and yes they did raise livestock and they did sell at their local youth auction.And yes it was often hard for them to let go of their project auction animal. But they raised them to sell and they learned a lot about what it takes to raise a successful auction project and they learned it doesnt always go the way they want. it has not made them hardened killers it has made most of the kids I know better consumers...better care takers and they have some seriously big hearts... 4-H is so so much more than this author knows... the history goes way back when kids worked very hard and often didnt go to school because they had to work... I know for a fact as it is the history of my husbands family. Look up Lewis Alderman, he was instrumental not only in 4-H but in education as he was once secretary of education of the United States of America. But in Oregon he wanted kids to learn so he challenged them to a contest at the Oregon State was to see who could grow the most potatoes from one seed potato....he was very impressed by what kids did with that one seed potato...and it went on to become far more than that...and I for one am quite disappointed to see that this author did not take the time to see what 4-H really is and instead spread their little views to so many people as if it was a well researched little story...and it is so really should learn what 4-H is and try again...there are so many kids who really could use some 4-H!!!

    September 13, 2014 at 2:51 am |
  33. Brenda Kirkland Schmidt

    We have been a 4-H family for 3 generations. It's one of the best organizations a young person could ever belong to.
    Everything about 4-H and it's kids is simply wonderful and it's not all about animals. There is so much more to 4-H.
    Take another look !

    September 13, 2014 at 12:31 am |
  34. Joseph Coxy

    I grew up on the farm and own my own. Was in the 4-h at 5 years old. I learned responsibility and confidence. When my friends were sleeping until noon working on a hangover. I was up at 6 in the morning feeding animals. Then went back the next night for another party.
    When my friends were training at the gym for football tryouts, I was shoveling manure and I still kicked their asses. The 4-h has NOTHING to do about the killing of animals. If anyone doesn't think an innocent animal should die, then stop eating at McDonald's.
    The 4-h is there for kids that want to make friends, have fun and gain pride from you achievements. I know my kids are going to have a calf to show every year because I can't think of one bad thing about it and I wouldn't be the man I am today if it wasn't for the 4-h. Thank-you.

    September 12, 2014 at 11:36 pm |
  35. Wil Boughan

    I have been in 4h for 11 years and I am sad to say that this past fair is the last year I can be a 4h'er. 4h does not raise kids to be desensitized to the slaughtering of animals. If you walk through the barns on the last night of my fair you will see numerous young first year and even some older 4h'ers crying while leaving the hog barn or sheep in goat barns, or if you are in the cattle barns on the morning of load out you will see the same thing as kids load their steers on to the trailer. Yes we might not all cry however you can not say we are desensitized I for one am always said to see my hogs and cattle going off to slaughter I have raised that hog for six months and that steer for a year and a half it is sad to see it go. Yes I might say I am glad to see that bull headed thing get on the trailer but I still and sad about it. To answer the question of whether or not we have seen an animal slaughtered yes my family slaughters hog and steers, Now some might call me a killer and inhuman for shooting that steer or hog but to me it is a part of life it is the natural chain of life. Finally getting back to the desensitized children of 4h it is simply not true we might not so that we are upset but most of us are, it is just simply something we were raised around in the agriculture field we now when these animals are born most of them are going to become that pork chop or steak or chicken breast on your plate at dinner. It is just simply something we have come to know and respect about life.

    September 12, 2014 at 11:16 pm |
  36. Jessica

    I guess I just never understood how these kids were not bothered knowing the animals that they cared for and raised were going to be sold off to be killed at the end of the fair. I just don't understand how they handle it. I'm not saying 4-H is bad or the kids are bad- I know a lot of kids, including my cousins, who were involved in the livestock aspect and loved it and got some good life skills out of it. I just don't get it... Then again, I was a very sensitive child and was so distraught about animals being killed for meat that I ended up going vegetarian as a high school student, so maybe most people can just handle things like that better than I ever could.

    September 12, 2014 at 11:10 pm |
  37. Garrett L Schmidt

    This article is absolutely absurd and was clearly written by someone who has no idea where their meat comes from that they buy at the supermarket. 4-H does not "desensitize" youth, if anything, it educates youth to buy meat that was cared for before, during, and after slaughter. It educates youth to be mindful about the meat that they buy for consumption. It teaches youth to be mindful in all aspects of agriculture. I was a 4-H member growing up and now a 4-H leader. I know I am a better person, who is well rounded and I pride myself to have any understanding about our agricultural system. Its a shame when a child will only understands that milk, meat, and eggs come from the supermarket and won't understand the consequences when they buy these products from a producer that do, in fact, deliberately abuse their livestock. You as the author, might consider it "desensitizing", but all you are doing is sheltering your children from the truth. The truth being, that there are mass production of animals slaughtered for our consumption each year that are shown no respect or love or kindness before, during or after slaughter. 4-H teaches the crucial values of respecting the animals before, during and after slaughter. Since I have learned these values, I as a consumer only buy meat, milk, and eggs from local farmer/ranchers because I know they believe in showing their livestock respect, unlike major grocery stores and supermarkets. I will forever support 4-H because it has been giving back to its community for the past 100 years. Shame on the author who wrote this article to belittle and discourage youth of America to not be engaged in their community. Shame on you for putting down an organization who has been teaching youth leadership values and community service for over 100 years.

    September 12, 2014 at 11:09 pm |
  38. Former 4-Her

    Yet one more example of CNN reporting what they want....not the facts. Has the reporter ever been to a fair? Were any 4-Hers interviewed for this story? That's what I thought. CNN = Crummy News Network.

    September 12, 2014 at 10:50 pm |
  39. Paul

    Ms. King
    I am a AG kid who been in 4-H for 12 years. I was a chapter President for two years along with my 4 years in FFA. These two Organizations show young people responsibility, leadership & hard work. And the 4-h pledge is I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my Heath to better living, for my club,my community, my country, & my world. There are only four key words. Along with this year a little boy who I know has been sick in the hospital. Our community raised his sale price to $47.00 a pound for his show lamb. Everyone in that sell barn was crying in joy of the support the boy was getting. 4-H is bout the kids not killing animals !

    September 12, 2014 at 10:34 pm |
  40. April

    I am a proud 4-h leader who has taught my members how to properly nurture and care for their animals. I have been involved with the organization since I was a child. I learned many valuable life lessons through my involvement. It taught me responsible pet ownership as well as other life skills. There is not a desentization to animal killing.

    September 12, 2014 at 10:06 pm |
  41. Derrick Joseph Taylor

    Not only was my Mother and my Uncle BOTH 4-H Leaders but they were 4-H Leaders for 13 years in different parts of the state of Illinois.The author of this ridiculous article is simply un-informed, ignorant and completely delusional. Had they been a part of a 4-H Club they would clearly know that speaking about things you have not researched makes you look foolish in front of your peers. In 4-H I learned how to be a well spoken, poised adult which lead me to being the president of one of the largest event production companies in Chicago and a TV presence on two WCIu and NBC5. I also grew up on a cattle farm and I assure you, steak doesn't magically appear on the supermarket shelves you daft twit. It's a shame CNN entertains such ignorance. But then again, that's why I watch BBC.I like my news un-filtered.
    In the words of my Grandmother " Some people just don't know any better sweetie, bless their hearts"

    September 12, 2014 at 10:00 pm |
  42. A Concerned Farmer who was in 4H

    I am sorry if our ways of life go against the grain, and what society dictates as acceptable. But, may I just say that the people who say that 4H is bad for children obviously wasn't part of it as a kid.
    To the People who wrote this article: F**K YOU!

    September 12, 2014 at 9:59 pm |
  43. R.G. Yoho

    Long live the 4-H and FFA! I grew up the proud son of a proud cattle farmer. And there's nothing better than a good steak!

    September 12, 2014 at 9:58 pm |
  44. Monica

    The title of this article is absurd. Clearly the people opposed have never been in 4-H. I was a 4-Her for 10 years raising hogs, steer, goats, rabbits and ducks. I have been an advisor for the past 7 years. I am an animal lover. My kids love animals, we chose to raise them on a farm to share this love with them. Yet with love, we still teach them (and my 4-Hers) that animals are here for a purpose. The real problem is people like these commenters who have a real disconnect about where food comes from. Such a disconnect that the thought of anyone else not sharing in that disconnect causes them to lash out via CNN comments. 4-Hers appreciate their food more than anyone because they know its history and the sacrifice. I want that any day for my kids rather than teaching my kids ignorance and them having no idea how they got chicken nuggets. We are farmers- we love our animals more than any outsider could know AND we also are strong enough to face reality.

    September 12, 2014 at 9:52 pm |
  45. Adam

    Thats stupid. If you dont like 4-h screw off and dont join it. Non of that stuff is true either. 4-h teaches us how to manage our own animal and one day a whole farm. Its a head start. It teaches us book keeping skills, communication, leadership, teamwork, just to name a few. Stuff that helps us in later years. As a former 4h member i can say that its a great experience and one i was glad i got. Yea, the steer gets slaughtered, welcome to the circle of life, how do you expect to eat the next day?
    City people need help
    End of rant

    September 12, 2014 at 9:46 pm |
  46. D Rizzle Off the Hizzle Fo Shizzle

    Great journalistic integrity CNN, posting an article where the main feature of it is comments from around the internet. No one cares about the comments. You don't even care about the comments, you wont read this one – WHY AM I WRITING THIS?

    FACT: 90% of the people who post on the internet are trolls. I am a professional statistician therefore this post is factually correct..........

    September 12, 2014 at 9:24 pm |
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