Does 4-H desensitize kids to killing?
June 23rd, 2011
11:00 AM ET
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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 our commenters 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, jewelery 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 • Food Politics • From the Comments • Local Food • Vegan


soundoff (1,508 Responses)
  1. vanessa

    i am in 4h i do not sell my animals i just show them. but i do have friends in ffa and 4h that sell their animals for meat and i seen them beat pigs up till they bled and i seen one pigs tail had her skin ripped off. I am a vegan and I know what's right. i know killing is wrong. I feel as though 4h is kinda sick in ways. i was raised seeing animals slaughtered and ever since i was a young girl i knew it was not right it was something that just stuck in my head.

    July 9, 2014 at 4:47 pm | Reply
  2. None your

    I hate 4-H!

    July 1, 2014 at 9:44 am | Reply
  3. 4-H Mom

    to Heather King and all others who are negatively commenting on kids raising animals for meat as their 4H projects......for one, you are speaking as though you are educated about 4H, clearly you are not. But mostly, I'd like to know your stance on abortions!..........then we'll talk.

    May 16, 2014 at 5:30 pm | Reply
    • Thread Patrol

      You're a day late, a dollar short and in the wrong forum. Buh-bye.

      May 16, 2014 at 5:59 pm | Reply
      • 4-H Mom

        Nice attitude "thread patrol"......"day late, and a dollar short", "wrong forum" (I posted a reply directly to the topic), such a nice response from you. It's obvious that it's an older post, and also that what I posted must have struck a nerve for you. As we enter the 4H season your post pops up under certain Google searches. Apparently some uneducated people have large opinions on 4H. Relax and quit being a jerk. And "buh bye"? So mature. So sad.

        May 16, 2014 at 8:19 pm | Reply
    • vanessa

      hell if an animals wanted an abortion i would be more than happy to give her one if she did not want her baby. but we ar not even talking about abortion this is about 4h and animals. just because someone gets an abortion doesn't make it right for others to kill already form beings.

      July 9, 2014 at 4:50 pm | Reply
  4. Name*Tracy Bean

    Cold blooded killers! Really? As a parent of two 4-H kids and someone who didn't grow up around this group i am amazed at the things my children have learned. We raise and show Boer goats,cattle and hogs. We are all attached to our animals but we have also learned a great appreciation for the circle of life. We have all cried our eyes out after shows when we had to load our animal onto the trailer. But it also have taught by girls so much about life and death. To say it teaches them to not look at their animals as pets is so far from the truth. We name them, care for them and love them. We are very attached to them! I am proud of what my girls have accomplished through the 4-H and FFA programs and the kids that come out of these organizations are outstanding citizens who go on to graduate college and give back to the organizations that helped them become the people they are. There is also so much more to the organizations they earn scholarships, do speeches and many other aspects that have nothing to do with animals but agriculture in general. If there wasn't 4-H and FFA who would put the food on your table? Not the creator of the iPhone!
    ~Tracy
    Proud Parent Of 4-Her's

    December 10, 2013 at 10:01 am | Reply
    • louise

      the,slaughterers,and,their,children,,are,looked,down,upon,by,even,the,butchers-they,live,feeling,inferior-yet,are,the,ones,who,do,the,work,all,others,refuse,to,do-including,those,who,"grow",living,stock-they,are,not,invited,to,be,close,and,,regular,friends,of,the,livestock,growers,or,butchers-i,been,in,the,environnent,re,our,relatives-it,is,one,really,fighting,the,others-yet,all,laughin,together,in,public-can,u,wonder,that,there,are,huge,slaughterhouses,now-where,workers,conditions,are,inhunane-just,so,u,can,profit-without,doing,the,very,fast,work,on,the,line-livestock,not,given,enuf,seconds,to,die,b4,boiled,alive-you,dont,do,this,work,so,u,dont,care,about,these,workers,n,living,stock-thats,where,yr,livestock,is,sent,to-but,its,"not,yr,concern"-after,u,have,sold,n,got,yr,profits-slaughter,plants,force,hell,work,on,workers,forced,to,be,there,by,various,contracts-they,survive,only,by,drugs,etc,to,speed,up,their,work-the,body,wrecking,and,soul,destroyin,,work-thats,not,4-H,concern–its,just,the,cause–you,sound,really,proud,of,yourself,n,like,to,brag,n,praise,yourself-so,u,dont,need,our,praise,on,top,of,that-you,are,all,powerful-yet,take,taxpayers,funds,in,grants,etc-but,we,have,to,pay,and,shut,up-so,u,can,get,your,own,way,always-we,dont,eat,yr,product-even,tho,u,say,"agriculture,is,only,livestock,n,grain,4,livestock"-n,no,other,growers

      April 25, 2014 at 10:05 pm | Reply
  5. Bonnie Caldron

    Did the Jonathan Ames letter come yet? I signed up in January and that i genuinely actually hope I didn't miss it. Is there a way I can study it if it did already come?

    November 27, 2013 at 3:49 pm | Reply
  6. Dorinda Rendle

    Brilliant write-up many thanks! Seems to function perfectly well along with the latest versions of wordpress as well (3.3)
    Made the code a lot cleaner as mentioned and seems to have made life less difficult when trying to implement the comments form into side areas ect. (Had a nightmare with previous use on the normal code)

    November 12, 2013 at 5:43 am | Reply
  7. Without AG yall would be naked and hungry

    Without the innovation of 4-H and FFA their has been many improvements how things are grown, taken care of,and built. Without agriculture dealing with your vegetables, animals, and clothing everybody would be cold and hungry.
    These programs have put the foundation of leadership, kindness, and dedication in the kids that are in the program.
    I was in FFA for 4 years and I loved every bit of it, and yes it would break my heart that 2/5 goats that i had went to the slaughter house, but you know what, if YOU don't want to hear about where the animals are going then take your asses to a auction and purchase an animal. Tell the kid he will be sent to a farm to live his life, and you will see the releaf in the kids face and heart. In FFA their are high school kids, and you wont know how many teenagers cried over their animals. If you actually cared about the kids then stop watching them and talking your shit and go buy the animal. The money that the kids get are encouraged to use it for higher educational purposes. I am able to go to college with new stuff like a backpack, laptop, and books with the money I got from my animals.

    August 14, 2013 at 9:29 am | Reply
  8. Mel

    I am all for people and their thoughts but you have it wrong. Its a crock of bull that you think being in 4-H is bad. You know how many kids have have went further into the livestock industry because of things like 4-H. As a fellow 4=H alum I think you are wrong. Because of 4-H I work at a dream job. I became the person I am today because I enjoyed it and it kept me out of trouble. It taught me respect, understand, hard work, dedication and much more. How dare you judge us for being in 4-H. Come spend a day in our shoes.

    July 3, 2013 at 1:25 pm | Reply
  9. Teena

    Hello to all, it's actually a good for me to go to see this web page, it consists of important Information.

    May 15, 2013 at 1:46 am | Reply
  10. allison bruce

    i am a 14 year old girl who is devoted to 4-H, i can say personally i have been taught so much! 4-H is not all about selling your animals for meat, allthough that is our common stero type. we learn about leadership , responsibility, devotion, communication skills, compatability, genorasity, compassion, we even learn a little bit about math with the role of the treasureure. cant you see that when you stero type us it hurts!! most to all of us are completely loving and caring for our animals no matter where they are going in the end. we probally love our animals more then the common child. i show dogs as my main hobby/ project. it teaches me pataice and to have a slow temper, because i know that my dog is just learning and no matter what happens in the ring i will always love him( he is an aussie named truman). i am compassonaite about 4-H, infact i have been in it since i was 5 and a half that like 8-9 years!!! 4-hers do a thing called presentation day were we learn communication and speaking skills. we have to prepare and present a 5-8 minute presentations with boards ao a power point. it is nerve racking but it teaches us to follow through. my club wins the slo county gold seal every year because our officers books win gold i am currently the vice president and i love it! look iam just saying that you can speak your opinon but dont make it seem like we are heartless brats because our motto is to make the best better and i belive that we are making best kid better.
    just read our pledge:
    as a true 4-H member... 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 and my world.

    March 20, 2013 at 11:59 pm | Reply
  11. 4-H Proud

    As a 14 year old, female 4-H-er, I can honestly say that I am appalled at this article. I can also say that it most certainly does NOT desensitize us to killing of animals. I have been a member of 4-H since I was 5 years old, and involved with it since birth. I've shown goats, cows, sheep, chickens, and pigs.

    For those of you who say the way we treat the animals is cruel, it isn't. In pig shows we use sticks to guide the animal. We may tap them to make them move a certain direction, and use a bit of force, but in no way do we "beat them half to death" with it. The same goes with showing beef cattle. We aren't stabbing the cow, we are using pressure points so that they will position their feet correctly, similar to a doctor's visit when they tap your knees to test your reflexes. When we push the sides of an animal to make it move, we don't use excessive force, to a human it might be, but for a 200-1200 pound animal, it's simply enough to make it move a little. When you walk throught the livestock barns at the fair, and don't see any food or water, it isn't that we are depriving them of it, it simply isn't feeding time. We walk them to the water every hour or so, and feed them plenty at least twice a day, and they usually have constant access to hay.

    For those of you who claim that we are "de-sensitized" or "don't know what happens after they get sold", trust me, we know... and yes, feel sorry for the animal in some ways. We know that after the fair, dairy cattle will be sent to a dariy farm and milked (And yes the calves on the farm do get REAL milk, and get PLENTY of it along with feed), Beef cattle will either be bred or slaughtered, Pigs will be bred or slaughtered, and so forth. If you've ever seen us working with our animals, or washing them, we are most often sweet-talking and petting the animals. If you've seen us at the sales, tears are shed at the parting of our animals and ourselves. However, we know and respect the fact that God put them on this Earth for apurpose, and take pride in knowing that they were raised properly and kindly, better than most of the animals that end up on your grocery store shelves.

    For those of you who say that the animals aren't treated right after the fair, they are. Have you ever been to our farms? the pens won't be "Spotless" But they are animals after all. The enlosures are outside, spacious, and with access to shelter, food, and water. They might not be petted as often, but they are given attention daily.

    All in all 4-H DOES NOT DESINSETIZE US!!! It teaches us respect for the animals, the life cycle, leadership skills, and so much more. It is a COMPLETELY positive organization. If you have a problem with us, come to the fair and talk to us about it. Thank you.

    – A proud SC 4-Her

    February 12, 2013 at 10:01 pm | Reply
  12. Kathy Cobb

    I'm sorry, but you are all full of crap. It's all wrong. Whether you buy your meat at a grocery store or raise it "the right way." It is still killing.

    Animals in the commercial meat industry suffer greatly. And it's also wrong to raise an animal as a pet, then auction it off to the highest bidder. It's a betrayal.

    It's easy to talk about the value of 4H and the circle of life; you don't have to do the dying.

    One day, we humans may no longer be at the top of the food chain, then, you will see things differently.

    Humans do not HAVE to eat meat; they choose to. Just as they choose to make excuses for why it's o.k.

    The first step is to say "this is wrong." even if you don't have all the answers yet. Because if enough people stand up and say that it's wrong, solutions will come, and change will happen.

    And yes, I am vegetarian.

    February 7, 2013 at 10:40 pm | Reply
    • louise

      YR,NOTE,ON,4-H,clubs-notice,that,none,of,these,want,to,do,the,actual,slaughterin,thenselves-i,worked,young,as,a,butcher,helper-which,put,us,kids,off,that,job–and,we,were,not,even,doing,the,slaughtering-butchers,dont,like,to,slaughter,either-so,workers,who,slaughter,are,forced,to,do,this,work-re,parole,officers,jobless,ex-veterans,war,refugees,who,have,just,escaped,war's,bloody,slaughterhouse,scenes,of,death-the,conditions,for,workers,in,slaughterhouses,are,inhumane-for,rofits,excesses-speed,of,the,line,is,ridiculous-so,living,beings,go,to,scalder,alive-they,burn,alive,slowly-taxpayers,invest,in,all,these,so-called,"food",businesses-yet,we,are,not,allowed,to,reequest,changes–especially,not,the,right,to,visit,and,witness,the,conditions,for,workers,n,animals–why,not,force,the,child,to,slaughter,his,her,own,animal?our,friends,worked,on,their,dad's,pig,factory,barns-they,told,u,-their,friends-how,sad,they,felt-but,tellin,parents,was,not,risked-bc,of,consequences-either,beatings-loss,of,"roof,over,yr,head",or,threats,to,not,pay,college,education-so,that,they,wd,be,stuck,doing,livestock,work,all,their,lives–really,hard,environnent,for,our,friends,and,i-but,if,the,fathers,cant,even,express,their,feelings,n,needs-then,what,is,the,chance,that,mothers,and,children,even,young,adults,of,16-19yo,risk,losing,by,expressin,their,truth,n,reality-big,cover,up,n,role,playin,in,the,livestock,industries-i,grew,up,surrounded,by,these,people

      April 25, 2014 at 8:57 pm | Reply
  13. Kathy Cobb

    You guys all talk a good game, but one day, humans are NOT going to be at the top of the food chain. We are going to be the ones taken to slaughterhouses. Then, your views will be quite different.

    It's easy for you to talk about the circle of life, having respect for the animal, or doing things the right way . . . you don't have to do the suffering or the dying.

    It's a betrayal to raise an animal as a pet, then sell them to the highest bidder. It's also wrong the way animals are treated in commercial slaughterhouses.

    The first step in evolving or promoting change is to say "this is wrong." Even if you don't have the solution. Because once enough people say "this is wrong." Solutions, and change will come.

    And yes, I am vegetarian.

    February 7, 2013 at 10:31 pm | Reply
    • eva

      What is it you think will be at the top of the food chain above humans? Are you spending too much time watching those alien history shows? I don't what it is you think will be above humans. I came across this while doing research about 4-H I have three children two are old enough to be in 4-H now and take care of their animals (mostly on their own) I think it's a fantastic way for them to learn responsibility and develop strong social skills. I personally think animals taste delicious and children need to except and understand the process of where meat comes from. Its animals, some one has to raise them, some one will eat them its never going to stop Cathy Cobb, so its important that children are taught how to care for animals properly (even if they are just for meat). What exactly is it people like you think would happen if we didn't animals? Cows just roam around, breeding, making more cows to roam around, then what... Like deer in the wild population control is a must, we hunt because it feeds our families, but it also helps keep balance. Over population in an area (by animals) isn't going to solve any problems its going to cause them. The circle of life isn't just about the order of how things happen its a need, we need the circle of life, and its livestock's role to be nutrition for people who chose to eat meat. 4-H in my opinion (as a mother of three and someone who was not raised on a farm and loves delicious animal meat) is a fantastic program and I can't wait to see the way 4-H helps my children grow, mature and develop. I also look forward to how it affects the things they think they want to do as a career when they grow up. ( right now my daughter wants to be an artist and my oldest son wants to be an orthodontist, maybe they will want to be vets or own farms or one of the many other things 4-h has to offer might influence their future career decisions like photography) I normally don't comment on things like this but there was that lady who just went overboard on how awful 4-H is and I think that's wrong, just because she thinks its totally wrong to kill animals doesn't mean that the 4-H program is wrong for teaching children about the process. There are many things I don't agree with in life but that doesn't mean i think they are wrong, they just are not for me but I know they serve a purpose for others and that makes it important.

      March 4, 2013 at 5:34 am | Reply
      • louise

        YR,NOTE,ON,4-H,clubs-notice,that,none,of,these,want,to,do,the,actual,slaughterin,thenselves-i,worked,young,as,a,butcher,helper-which,put,us,kids,off,that,job–and,we,were,not,even,doing,the,slaughtering-butchers,dont,like,to,slaughter,either-so,workers,who,slaughter,are,forced,to,do,this,work-re,parole,officers,jobless,ex-veterans,war,refugees,who,have,just,escaped,war's,bloody,slaughterhouse,scenes,of,death-the,conditions,for,workers,in,slaughterhouses,are,inhumane-for,rofits,excesses-speed,of,the,line,is,ridiculous-so,living,beings,go,to,scalder,alive-they,burn,alive,slowly-taxpayers,invest,in,all,these,so-called,"food",businesses-yet,we,are,not,allowed,to,reequest,changes–especially,not,the,right,to,visit,and,witness,the,conditions,for,workers,n,animals–why,not,force,the,child,to,slaughter,his,her,own,animal?our,friends,worked,on,their,dad's,pig,factory,barns-they,told,u,-their,friends-how,sad,they,felt-but,tellin,parents,was,not,risked-bc,of,consequences-either,beatings-loss,of,"roof,over,yr,head",or,threats,to,not,pay,college,education-so,that,they,wd,be,stuck,doing,livestock,work,all,their,lives–really,hard,environnent,for,our,friends,and,i-but,if,the,fathers,cant,even,express,their,feelings,n,needs-then,what,is,the,chance,that,mothers,and,children,even,young,adults,of,16-19yo,risk,losing,by,expressin,their,truth,n,reality-big,cover,up,n,role,playin,in,the,livestock,industries-i,grew,up,surrounded,by,these,people-soya,protein,agriculture,is,growing,fast-the,processing,plants,and,less,technology,provide,all,the,jobs,to,replance,slaughterhouses-in,which,u,probably,were,never,forced,to,work-u,take,taxpayers,grants-you,have,not,cared,enuf,to,listen-so,deal,with,the,change-or,fight,it,,however,u,wish-i,fr,long,line,of,cattlenen,n,butchers-so,i,know,there,are,no,boundaries,they,respect,to,get,what,they,want-no,surprise-use,livestock-use,people,too

        April 25, 2014 at 9:05 pm | Reply
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    • eva

      also, what is it you think would happen to the economy if we raised children thinking farming and killing animals for food is wrong...? Lets say everyone jumped on your boat and everyone decided it was wrong, now people don't own pig, cattle or chicken farms ect... which makes them pretty much useless animals so now we have a bunch of animals that are not serving their purpose. So what do we do with them? The slaughter houses will close, there will be no need for truckers who transport the livestock, meat processing plants will close, and the quality control inspectors at these places and the managers and owner and employees of all these places that have their finger in the meat business... its ridiculousness to think that people quitting eating meat and stopping programs that educate children about the process of farming and stuff related to this topic is a good thing, its a bad thing to change the way things are with this topic. Animals are for food and people need to farm and slaughter animals they've been doing it one way or another for ever and it will and needs to continue for many reasons.

      March 4, 2013 at 5:54 am | Reply
  14. Love 4-H!!

    I am currently in 4-H and FFA and both of my parents are leaders. If you don't think we have an emotional attachment you obviously have never been to a county fair. I cried my eyes out when I sold my first steer. It may be sad but it is the circle of life. I make money from all the animals i sell, and the buyers eat the meat. I put all the money toward college. I love 4-H; always will. I can raise beef and a lamb. 4-H teaches responsibility,not to be lazy, and much common sense that I would not have learned without 4-H. The next time you judge 4-H or farming and ranching, do your research not on the internet actually go to a farm, a county fair. and talk to 4-Hers. See what they have to say. I would sure as heck love to tell someone what really goes on. ENJOY YOUR MEAT!!! P.S. Where do you think all of the farmers and ranchers who raise meat today came from?? (Hint ~ lots of them were in 4-H!)

    November 18, 2012 at 12:06 am | Reply
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    November 15, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Reply
  19. Mason

    I am sorry. I am a vegetarian and I love 4-H! I have nothing against animals being used for meat. I dont eat meat because I feel better (Physically) when I dont eat it. 4-H has nothing to do with hating... In fact its the complete opposite... It teaches you to love other people and treat them with respect. 4-H Educates youth to work well in any environment and gives kid the opportunity to expand their knowledge, wisdom, and understanding of anything they would like to know. I am so sorry you have not been effected the way I have, but you really should know more about the people before you make false statements... I raised sheep and goats, rabbits and ducks... And for your information... I named each and everyone of them... I did not eat them... but I took care of them. :) Smile Jesus Loves you!

    August 9, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Reply
    • Mason

      Thank you for not being bias in your quotes... :)

      August 9, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Reply
      • Omni

        Thank you, Mason, for your viewpoint. I agree, 4-H has nothing to do with hating ... I think the story meant, some people hate 4-H. The story doesn't have a very good headline and starts off a little badly. I do like it for presenting for and against. I too don't eat meat, but I understand why people do and feel that they need or want to. I don't bash meat-eaters :). I just ask people to try to be careful about where their food comes from, to try to buy from compassionate sources, like 4-H. And truly, I don't think this story is bashing 4-H ... just making the point that it's hard on kids to raise animals and then send them to slaughter. I agree with that perspective, being a former farm girl :).

        August 10, 2011 at 9:53 am | Reply
  20. 4-H Educator

    I am not surprised that CNN ran this story. CNN, MSNBC, CBS, ABC, and NBC are only too happy to run stories that are meant to destroy our American values. I grew up on a farm. We raised cows, horses, sheep ,and 4-H pigs. Both my brother and I raised and showed sheep and pigs. My Daddy took me to the local bank to borrow the money to buy that first lamb. I was nine years old. When I sold "Baby" I cried. I wasn't too happy about paying back the bank either, BUT, I learned valuable life lessons: some animals are raised for food and, when you incur a debt, you pay it back with interest! As an adult I served as a 4-H professional educator for 36 years. During that time, my son became a 4-H member and showed pigs. He was also involved in the Small Engines, Automotive, Foods, Public Speaking, and Leadership Projects. He is now a Lt. Colonel and Batallion Commander in the Texas National Guard, a good husband and father. He is making a difference in his country and community. His story is only one among thousands I could relate about how 4-H has influenced the lives of children from farms, rural areas, and inner cities. 4-H members and former members are good solid citizens. They contribute to society – not take from it. They are leaders in their homes, schools, churches, communities, states, and country. They are homemakers, scientists, teachers, farmers, doctors and lawyers. They serve in all walks of life. On their behalf, and that of the many professionals and volunteers who believe in and work for hese youth. I am HIGHLY OFFENDED by this story. If CNN did due diligence and researched the true value of
    4-H, the largest youth organization in the world, they would be telling a different story. That, however, would be too much to ask of this news (and I use that term lightly), organization. Want to show how our youth are being desensitized to killing? Do a story on video games, movies, TV, and gangs. Leave youth organizations that help develop citizens who make thier world a BETTER place alone!

    August 8, 2011 at 9:57 pm | Reply
    • Omni

      Please read the story. It includes positive viewpoints about 4-H that you would like and appreciate. I think a story is unbiased if it includes both sides ... and this one does.

      August 9, 2011 at 9:27 am | Reply
  21. Scrappy

    Wow, I am SO sorry, but I beg to disagree ... I think it's terribly hard on kids to have to "kill their project" as someone says. To me, that statement there says, yes, 4-H does, in some sense, desensitize kids to killing. You are calling a living, feeling creature "a project." I was in 4-H myself. There were great aspects about it, but I do believe it teaches us as a society to treat an animal as a commodity. You raise it, love it, and then, sell it to slaughter. I went to college on a scholarship based on academic achievement, not on pain and suffering caused to a sentient being. And I took out student loans and worked like crazy. Again, I don't mean to offend, and I know I'll get yelled at and blasted for my opinion, but it's a valid opinion. I'm not saying 4-H'ers are cruel people in any way. I think they're kind and caring and are the salt of the earth. But let's just be honest about this and not sugarcoat it.

    August 8, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Reply
  22. 4-H and FFA all the way!

    I’m in 4-H and FFA and without both of these organizations I don’t know where I would be! Both of 4-H and FFA have helped me decided on what I want my major in college to be (Agribusiness and possibly Agriculture Education.) I live on a cow calf operation, and I’ve shown cattle for seven years. Because of this I’ve made a countless amount of friends, gain so many leadership skills, and have been able to serve as an officer in my 4-H club. When you go to the fair you see 4-H’ers and FFA’ers fitting their calves. We’ve spent the whole year getting ready to show that steer off, and we want that calf to be the best he can be. When you win with that steer, whether it’s a showmanship class or a market class, it is the best feeling on earth!! Finally when you’re in the sale pen and you’re showing off your calf for the last time, you look up and you see all the buyers biding on your animal, it’s unbelievable! Knowing that you raised a calf that someone WANTS to buy is one of the most rewarding experiences! Not to mention most of us are using our sale money for college. One the last day of fair many members are found lying on their calves crying. How can anyone say that’s desensitizing us to killing our projects? We’re proud of them, and we care about them. If we didn’t care about our animals, then why did we spend our whole year raising them? 4-H and FFA are both amazing programs and I know they will always be part of my life. And someday when I have children, they will be involved in and 4-H and FFA!

    August 8, 2011 at 2:29 am | Reply
  23. Austin

    I serve on the State Executive Board for Louisiana 4-H. This board of thirty youth oversee all youth 4-H events at every level to make sure that they are run efficiently, they are educational, and that they are fun for all 4-H'ers in attendance. You can obviously see that when the 4-H community feels attacked, they come back with a vengeance. But let's cover the issue at hand. In Louisiana raising livestock in any form is considered a project. When the members begin the project (usually in elementary school), they are given a project that teaches them how to feed and nurture their animals. As the 4-H'ers get older the project books become more challenging and offer more advanced information. 4-H agents and volunteers are always ready to help the members when and their families when the members have a problem. Sometimes the members come from farming families; simultaneously, the simple 4-H project has become vital in strengthening family involvement. Together, they rejoice when that Angus steer wins grand champion and console each other through the tears when that same steer is auctioned and sold. These children are not desensitized; 4-H'ers grow and mature through this project. They learn how to love and care for animals, unlike some urban areas where the children treat their pets like dish towels. These 4-H'ers gain work ethic, MORALS, and a new respect for farmers.

    August 7, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Reply
    • Andy hunt

      Hi i first want to say i agree fully with you Austin and i am a 4her and in FFA AND a beef farmer i live in minnesota where my family raises Horned polled and club calved HEREFORDS so i was just saying i agree with you except for the part were you say AN NGUSSTEER IT COULD BE ANY bred such as hereford blackbaldie charolia

      October 13, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Reply
  24. Gare

    This article is really a joke. 4-H does not stand for "hatred towards animals". Try reading our pledge and motto.

    "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."

    Where is hatred in there or the ruthless children slaughtering animals? Our motto is to make the best better.

    4-H is a lot like FFA (Future Farmers of America) with the agricultural side but that is only ONE aspect of this great national youth organization. It's wrong of you (arthur of article that decided to be nameless) to pick out one part of 4-H and then to twist it to benefit your view.

    4-H offers more than showing cattle, hogs, horses, and other farm animals at state fairs across the country. It teaches youth in all forms, races, and ages about healthy lifestyles, community service, public speaking, and networking. This article should not be aiming readers to hate children for living on a farm. The author should change the title to "Does video games desensitize kids to killing?", it sounds more appropriate and accurate.

    In all of my years of being active in this great organization I have never heard of anything remotely more absurd. I was always involved with summer camp, community service projects, county 4-H events such as workshops to prepare for District Project Achievement (a public speaking competition in over 30 different categories), district events (Competing at District Project Achievement against 10-15 other peers in the same category and/or weekend retreats to learn about financial literacy, internet safety, or health classes and community service projects of making cards for our troops overseas and helping out with the 4-H program Operation Military Kids.), state events (State Congress where you compete with other kids at the project achievement level to win a master 4-H'er status award and eligibility to go to the National 4-H Congress, running for a State 4-H Board of Directors Board Member where you campaign against peers across the entire state, 4-H Healthy Lifestyles Ambassador, 4-H Technology Team, etc.), national events (National 4-H Congress, 4-H Citizen Washington Focus–where 4-H'ers spend a week in Washington, D.C. learning about our nations capital and about politics, several other 4-H teams compete on the national level), and world wide events (such as seeing how other 4-H organizations operate in different parts of the world such as Puerto Rico).

    There are so many other activities and events that a child can do in the organization of 4-H that was not listed above. 4-H is not only for rural children but made for children living inside America's great cities as well. How can a child take care of a pig, cow, horse, or other animal while living inside a metropolis such as New York City, Chicago, Washington, D.C., or Atlanta? Also, 4-H on a national scale has been implementing the new standards for the 4-H SET (Science, Engineering, and Technology) curriculum. This goes hand in hand with what the government has challenged our nations' schools with promoting more children to go to college and pursue a career in the Science, Engineering, or Technology fields to compete on a global scale.

    So, tell me readers, "haters", CNN editorial staff how can this organization of 4-H that prepares a child for public speaking, networking, community service, a love and understanding of their country, and greater sense for future college and career goals make a child desensitized to killing? Why don't you publish a study by several research based institutions? 4-H is ran through land grant research based universities. Please do your research before you criticize something that is preparing your child for the future. Our children our the future of our country.

    July 27, 2011 at 12:25 am | Reply
    • Scrappy

      Please read the article. CNN is just raising a questions about one aspect of 4-H; it is not saying anything about hating the entire organization. In addition, if you read the article, it gives both criticism and praise for 4-H. I appreciate your viewpoint and support for 4-H; it's wonderful and your comments are really educational. But, honestly, I find it so odd that so many 4-H'ers have leapt to defend something that's not even being attacked. In addition, at the end of the article, it notes that 4-H teaches other things beside animal husbandry. I'm not sure if I'm proud that 4-H'ers defend their organization with such passion, or dismayed that 4-H'ers don't appear to utilizing their reading/critical thinking skills. Again, great that 4-H folks are proud of their group and it sounds like a lot of good happens there (and I remember plenty of good stuff from my days in 4-H), but everyone needs to apply their critical thinking skills here.

      July 27, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Reply
    • Korey

      I'm not going to to sit here and write a book for you to read to get my point across... I'm just going to leave you with a statement that was told to me by my local sheriff and parish District Attorney: "You never here about 4-Hers in the news, or anywhere for that matter, being put in jail for stealing, selling/buying drugs, or being in any kind of trouble with the law." Why do you ask? Because we as 4-Hers are too busy with our projects, whether it be in leadership, science, engineering, technology, fashion, healthy living, livestock, citizenship, and many other crucial areas that are needed to make us into well-rounded individuals.

      August 7, 2011 at 7:48 pm | Reply
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