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


soundoff (1,645 Responses)
  1. Brian

    Do bad opinion based stories count for good reporting? Apparently on CNN they do.....I'm switching to PBS

    June 23, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
  2. RealityCheck

    Can the author of this article explain how the owner of CNN (Ted Turner) (who owns several large cattle/bison ranches across the United States, ) feels about you writing this article? Aren't you being a hypocrite for working for such a man? Is he a Nazi or Communist sympathizer? How do you justify making these claims given this?

    June 23, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
    • Mendy Sellman

      Great point! Love this comment! :0)

      June 23, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
  3. Jill

    For anyone who showed an animal in 4H, most of them will tell you that it always sad to sell an animal. But you have to look at it this way, they are all PRODUCTION animals, raised for one purpose, to FEED you. No matter how the animal is raised, they will all have the same ending, hanging on the rail in the slaughter house. So why not spoil your calf with baths twice a day, spend the hot summer days in front of a fan, or even in an air conditioned barn, getting treats, and as much attention as you can possibly give it. The other alternative that a calf can have is spending its life fighting the other calves for space at the feed bunk. 4H teaches children how to treat animals with respect and how to raise and nurture them. It makes them be more mature then most people when it comes to production agriculture. 4H teaches children how to prepare a project and to be proud of their accomplishments.

    June 23, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
  4. bob

    And what about the animals killed on the roads trucking your vegetables???? And the animals killed by the herbicides used to protect your vegetables??? And the animals killed by the construction equipment building your homes??? And the animals killed by the lumber harvesters to build your homes??? Have you ever seen an animal run through a sickle bar when harvesting wheat??? with it's legs cut off??? Or a hen pheasant killed on her nest during harvesting operations?? Death happens with everything.

    June 23, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
  5. rayla c

    This is bs. I was in 4h for my whole life, raising many animals and everytime I was upset to see them get slaughtered but it's the way of life. all the money I raised from my 4h animals I'm using togo to school. If it wasnt for 4h I wouldn't be the way I am today learning everyday life skills from respect to proper animal care and good work ethics . 4h kids are americas future leaders, ceo's and doctors who work hard for things they are passionate about maybe if more people did 4h our country wouldn't be going in the hole because of everyone being on welfare and foodstamps. Think about that

    June 23, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
  6. Kate

    Unless you were ever in 4-H, then you should just shut up. I was in 4-h from 9 to 18 and in the junior fair board. I had animals and other projects. I would never in my life give up my 4-h days and experiences and the friendships I made. I saw it improve kids attitudes and empower them and give them self esteem including with myself during some very troubled times. The animal to auction thing isn't what 4-H was all about and to just make a blanket statement like that is wrong. I had to lead my animals to slaughter, but that project was not a requirement and 99% of the time I was entered was an animal that I took home. I am not desensitized to the killing of animals, I am against factory farming, and inhumane meet packing practices. I am not however against the family farmer. We were not inhumane. It is the circle of life. Do I see the arguments of vegetarian/vegan lifestyles? Yes. But last I checked people here in America were free to choose. If you want to promote your lifestyle, then use education not ignorance to make your point and don't attack a very valuable program that more children should be involved in for some small aspect that you might disagree with, by making a blanket statement implying that all 4-hers are going to be heartless animal haters growing up. Besides kids cry when you first leave them at school but they grow up to get over that one too huh!

    June 23, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
  7. LisaK

    Just so you know, there are millions of animals and creatures of all kinds slaughtered and habitats ripped up every year by FARM EQUIPMENT being used to GROW YOUR VEGETABLES!!! So stop being so judgmental, righteous and hypocritical!!! Have you ever heard of the cycle of life.....well 4-H teaches it and you GAIN RESPECT FOR ANIMALS AND THINK ABOUT WHAT THEY HAVE GIVEN WHEN YOU EAT!! I am a hunter and let me tell you I have FAR MORE RESPECT for those animals than any of you who blindly think that eating a vegetable is saving an animal!

    June 23, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
  8. Ryan

    I just want to say for everyone crying foul at CNN for "writing this article", this is a BLOG showing the RESPONSES from a different ARTICLE. This isn't an article. Learn how to read.

    June 23, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
  9. Pete H

    Folks, if you ate today, animal or vegetable, you killed something. That’s the way it works. We kill, we eat. Not teaching a child how to kill and eat is more damaging that doing the opposite.

    For the last time; Bambi and Thumper didn’t talk!

    June 23, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
  10. Kathryn

    I am currently in 4-H and have been for several years. I am learning how to be a leader, about citizenship, and all about photography. I hope to be a professional photographer someday and 4-H has been invaluable to me. It helped me overcome my shyness and has taught me many life lessons. It has shaped who I am today.
    Please stop hating.

    June 23, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
  11. 10YR4Her

    The people contributing to this article speaking against 4H do not know what they are talking about. I like so many people who have posted on here agree that 4H is all about education and teaches children about humane treatment of animals as well as teaching them about the responsibility that comes with caring for an animal. In addition, I would bet that at least 95% of the kids participating in livestock projects come from families who make their living from farming and raising livestock... for them (and all other 4Hers) 4H is about more than the project, it's about learning, service, and making friends. Another item that shows the lack of knowledge about the 4H auction setting alone, these contributers fail to recognize that more often than not in the auction it is the kid's friends and family purchasing the animal. The other buyers at this auction are local, and well respected butchers and meat shops. It's not like any random person can walk in and sign up to be a buyer at the auction and do whatever they please with the animal they purchase. In addition, there are numerous other projects that members can participate in, such as woodworking, sewing, photography, not to mention Junior Leaders which is all about teaching participants about helping their community. I am disgusted by this display of ignorance.

    June 23, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  12. I agree with Walter... and Mary! Don't Attack 4H

    Farmers are some of the most tender hearted and sensitive people I know. They work endless hours!! They gently and tirelessly nurture all their animals and their ground from birth to harvest. The children participating in 4H and FFA are learning to continue a way of life that has benefits for many people, even a vegetarian. 4H and FFA also educate children about the environment and sustainability. When readers attack people who choose a way of life such as farming, they clearly demonstrate having never met a farmer or a farmer's children. These people are hard working, honest, definately sensitive and most importantly a priceless member of our U.S. economy.

    June 23, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
    • Mendy Sellman

      Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am a sixth generation farmer and we are farming that same land my ancestors did. Thank you again!! God Bless you.

      June 23, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
  13. makinitmesh

    People are so quick to judge without ever really being the steps of the person they are judging. 4-H does NOT endorse animal suffering or encourage desensitizing children. It's about responsibility and community service. I was in the 4-H program from 8-18, the longest that you can be in it for. The majority of that time my project was only horse, but for part of it I also raised lambs. It taught me where my food came from and that amount of work that goes into raising an animal for food. I did not celebrate when my animal was slaughtered after fair, but I did not cry either. I am a very sensitive person and a huge lover of all animal and am still involved in agriculture to this day. I went on to receive my Bachelors in Agribusiness. My family did not farm, nor were we immersed into agriculture, but being in 4-H is what started my interest in Agriculture in the first place. Many children don't know where there food comes from, is it really okay for them to think that it comes straight from the grocery store?
    I'd also like to add that our country was founded on Agrarian principles and that is another thing 4-H supports. I am so insulted that someone (who probably didn't do their research) made off the cuff comments that will have a detrimental effect on a program that helps so many youth. Shame on you!

    June 23, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
  14. NeutralOnFood,NotOn4-H

    Be a veggie if you want to be a veggie, be a carnivore if you want to be a carnivore, but our kids NEED to know what both of those things entail so that when they get older, if they want to change the system of pumping meat full of hormones and putting chemicals on veggies, they'll know how to do it differently! Every 4-H er treats their animals the same way they treat their gardens- with respect and love. If we want our food to change, we need programs like 4-H that will teach us how to do it right instead of letting big corporations do it for us the wrong way.

    June 23, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • NeutralOnFood,NotOn4-H

      *Omnivore, not carnivore. I got into a one-track mindset. But I suppose if you want to be a carnivore, you can do that too.

      June 23, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
  15. kiani

    I live in hawaii and my club focused on art & crafts, baking, sewing, speech, and cooking. and community service and service learning. It was a wonderful experiecnce.

    June 23, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
  16. Simpson

    "This idiot has probably never spent time in 4H or on a farm or at an auction to know what really goes on. It is idiots like that that give us Ranchers and Farmers a bad name. DO YOUR DAM F*&IN RESEARCH BEFORE YOU SPOUT OFF SHIT YOU NOTHING ABOUT!!!"

    I totally agree, If these people had there way we would all be living in grass huts smoking and wearing Hemp. Just goes to show oyu what a bunch of over educated idiots that have never stepped out of there concrete jungles try to impose there holy than thow beliefes whach have no merit or substantiation behind them. If you don't like don't go, don't buy, go live in a secluded area and talk amounst your selves AND LEAVE EVERYONE ALONE!

    June 23, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
  17. Walter

    I think we are beating a dead horse buy now.

    June 23, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  18. Jack

    This is all a load of bull. God put animals on Earth to eat. Dont eat them if you dont want to, but leave us meat eaters alone. These programs are HELPING kids. Whoever agrees with this article most likely sits inside all day and has never once stepped outside the city, and definently not onto a farm.

    June 23, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  19. Mary

    I can't believe people would say this shit! 4-h is the best damn thing to help kids learn to be leaders as does FFA. I support 4-h as well as FFA I also raise cattle chickens and rabbits to EAT! The food you people eat the is beef pork etc comes from Past 4-h and FFA members so if it wasn't for us you alp would starve ask me if I care bout that hell no I care bout my fellow farmers rancher etc so get a life !!! As for getting excited after a steer sales big means they made a profit from HARD WORK! So take it and stick it where the sun don't shine! 4-H & FFA rock and kick ass!!!!!!!!!!

    June 23, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  20. U.P. 4-H Lover!!

    I have been in 4-H my whole like, even before I was born I was going to 4-H events with my mom. I was one who chose to not be in the Livestock club because my mom explained to me what would happen and I decided against. However, for those of you who are against 4-H in anyway, have you ever been to a 4-H event or been a member. My guess would be no, because if you had been able to experience the fun and educational experiences that 4-H has to offer you would not feel this way. The livestock club is just one of the great things that 4-H has to offer, maybe if your only against the livestock club say that and not just 4-H in general. I believe that my time spent in various 4-H pograms and clubs made a huge impact on my life and the decisions I have made in my life. Cleaning up a community, throwing a dance to help raise money, pop can drives, Learning sign language, learning to be a caring, productive responsible and honest memeber of society that is what 4-H teaches you through the years, how to be an adult.

    June 23, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  21. mckenzie zeigler

    Ok they want to bitch about how the pigs and cows get killed well then bitch about the ducks, chicken, goats, sheep and horses cause the chickens get killed so do the goats and sheep... the horses have to be outside in the hot weather with saddle pads and saddles on and plus they are gettin worked when all the other animals get to lay around and get to have fans on them so maybe they should think before the put shit up and not to piss off people

    June 23, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
  22. Amber (one of the people raising your beef)

    I was raised participating in 4-H and I will tell you that I LOVED my animals! I raised calves and gave them the best life possible and really cared for them BUT I realized that cattle were created for us to eat! Not keep as pets forever! Which by the way is VERY expensice if the animal "lovers and savers" want to spend their money saving them, well feel free to realize the cost and time involved with caring for an animal like that. By the way that's hyposcripsy "...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." Responsible and ethical means treating that animal well and not causing it to suffer unnecessarily (you learn that in 4-H what you put into that animal is what you get out of it so you don't treat it well than it won't make weight or do well at the shows). People need to realize where their food comes from - the farmers and ranchers who raise it, not the grocery store! Just remember that next time you go to purchase a gallon of milk or a fresh vegetable! The store did not just make it in the back. It took hard work, sweat, and sometimes tears to raise that animal or plant just for you and your family to enjoy and and turn around and be ungrateful for! Thank you to those who appreciate the hard working Americans who are doing this for you!

    -One of the people raising your beef

    June 23, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
  23. IDCowgirl

    I think this writer is a complete idiot. I think children should know what happens to their animals once they are sold. I think anyone who eats meat should watch an animal be slaughtered. Yet I was never in 4H I doubt that children are desensitized to death. These children grow up in an environment where they learn about caring for an animal and yes some may get attached to them but they know what happens to them at the end. My children will sure enough learn what happens to their pet cows/pigs and sheep in the end. I work in the animal field and see it on a frequent basis and I have to say I am not desensitization to it but sure know how to handle my self and I know that someday my favorite cow may be sold down the road to become hamburger but that is just the process of being in this industry and that is the circle of life. If she is not producing a calf than she is no good us. That is loss revenue when she no longer can have a calf.
    This idiot has probably never spent time in 4H or on a farm or at an auction to know what really goes on. It is idiots like that that give us Ranchers and Farmers a bad name. DO YOUR DAM F*&IN RESEARCH BEFORE YOU SPOUT OFF SHIT YOU NOTHING ABOUT!!!
    It is sad that so many American children have no clue where their food comes from. There are many city kids who think that their food comes from the store and then many go on to be uneducated idiots like that writer who no nothing about the industry.
    If you don't want to eat animals fine but don't shove your uneducated nonsense down my throat. Vegans have been proven to have smaller brains than meat eaters and it shows.

    June 23, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
    • Amber (one of the people raising your beef)

      You said it! It is not cheap or easy to raise an animal or even let them go but as mature and hungry people we must accept the fact and that is animals are for eating! You hit it on the head! As you siad : People sdo your homework and actually go to a ranch or farm and see the real process not just what you heard , read, or saw on tv. Find out the FACTS!

      June 23, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  24. Leslie

    Does 4-H desensitize us to killing, I cried each time I sold one of my animals but it was all part of the learning experience. I loved my years in 4-H it taught me responsibility, it kept me out of trouble and has made me a well rounded self-sufficient individual that if it came down to it I could survive on my own. Now days everything is laid out before us, that only gives people an excuse to foster the "why should I learn that" mentality. Those people won't ever learn or be half the person that 4-H has made me after my many years of participating in the program as a child and young adult. Its a shame!!

    June 23, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  25. KateM

    The 4-H Club is a very educational experience for children in both finance and the realities of life. I learned profit and loss when it comes to raising and caring for my pigs, along with respect of the cycles of life. My pig was raised in far better conditions than that of a processing plant, and was immunized and given well balanced meals. It was difficult knowing after 3-4 months I would no longer be caring for my pig, however, I appreciated meat products a great deal more after I learned the realities of where meat came from. I worked hard raising my pigs for 7 years, and I was able to pay for some of College and buy my first car. I believe 4-H is a great Club, and very educational for youth today.

    June 23, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  26. Carnivore

    I eat them too!

    June 23, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  27. Heather

    My official post is earlier on in response to someone's idiotic point they try to make but I just want to say a couple more things. We all need to stick to our opinions, they're a God given right, but God did not give you the right to speak lies about topics you obviously don't have a clue about. I was raised a farmer's daughter, a farmer's granddaughter, and a farmer's great granddaughter and many more greats beyond that. We had to sell our farm and move to town because of my mother's failing health, but we all miss it, everyday. Apparently those of you who think "4H bad, idiots good" well all I have left to say is: "who do you think founded this country?" No matter when your ancestors came to America it's a safe bet they too farmed. Farmers fought and died on the battlefield throughout our nations history, they fed the homefront, they fed our soldiers, farming is why you get to enjoy the freedoms that we have, the farmer is who held this country (and continue to do so) together when politicians, businessmen, and idiots tried to tear us down. Maybe you should think about that the next time you want to flash lies about topics you have no comprehension about. Simpler–try walking thru and actually look and listen when you encounter a 4H or FFA building at city, county, and state fairs across this great country everyday and maybe if you listen with your heart (and ears) and not with your mouth some truths might actually take root in your warped sense of right and wrong. To those who think 4H should be 5H after adding "haters" to the mix , what is your excuse because according some of these posts by not being in 4H you don't hate, well it sounds an awful like you "hate 4H, FFA, farming and farmers. Where did your hate come from if you weren't "subjected to 4H"?

    June 23, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  28. José Ortega y Gasset

    Do children learn about the processes that make the world go around? Yes. Do they become desensitized to killing? Absolutely not.

    Those naive individuals (so-called vegetarians) who deny man's fundamental need to partake in nature's cycle of life and death are wholly dismissing reality. The advent of agriculture is a relatively new phenomenon in the grand spectrum of time. Man was designed as hunter-gatherer and no amount of PETA-protesting, 4H-bashing or Hollywood politics will ever change that.

    Every aspect of human anatomy points to our evolution as hunters: forward-facing eyes, simple stomachs, remnant canines and even our ability to wield tools through the design of our digits. Make no mistake, it is not the vegetarians alone how harbor ill-will towards ranchers and hunters; there is a plethora of omnivorous people who abhor the necessary killing of animals. Such people falsely believe that their ground chuck is created vacuum-wrapped and was never a living, breathing animal.

    June 23, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
  29. Pat

    My family and my husband were all heavily involved in 4-H, both as members and leaders. We all took part in the livestock clubs. In those clubs we learned a lot, all focused on good animal husbandry. Us, and all of our friends in the clubs, have formed strong bonds with the animals we showed over the years. Personally, we kept all of the animals we showed as breeding stock. Some of our friends had market animals, but they did not value their animals any less. They always took great care of their animals and made sure that they had the best possible care throughout their entire lives. 4-H is very important in helping youth learn a number of skills, including how to properly care for animals so they are well-nourished, comfortable and healthy for their entire lives.

    June 23, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  30. Jared

    i grew up in 4-H it was the best thing i can think of for a child it teaches them responsibility and respect. my children will grow up in 4-H as well.
    P.E.T.A. – PEOPLE EATING TASTY ANIMALS

    June 23, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  31. SILVERFIESTA

    I would like to know how many of you who are soooo vigorously defending the non-slaughter point of view are also pro-life when it comes to abortion??? How about preborn babies – let's talk about what is really important instead of this foolishness regarding meat.
    I would never defend abusing animals but I will eat what was placed on this earth to be eaten and defend the right of helpless babies to be given their life.

    June 23, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • F. Jackson

      Can't speak for anyone else, but I don't support abortion and do support animal welfare.

      June 23, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  32. AGuest9

    Oh no! Vegetarians! They're eating the poor, defenseless plants that are just standing in the field! Oh, the horror!

    June 23, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
  33. KCH

    First thing, every year 4-H kids (at least in Iowa) have to complete FSQA training. This training teaches kids starting in 4th grade about responsible, ethical food production. It teaches kids about proper antibiotic usage, proper handling, feed, biosecurity, and ethics. Those kids are very young to be getting that info every year but they learn it and they are better stewards of the environment and those animals than people who know nothing.
    The 4-H program (and FFA) runs so much deeper than the raising and harvesting of animals, although that is an important project for a lot of kids. 4-H emphasizes citizenship, responsibility, healthy living, healthy families, and healthy communites. Where else do kids have to take complete responsibility for an animal at a young age and manage its diet, environment, and the economics of the project? I don't think you could ever find youth that young in any other project maintaing financial records and profit/loss statements. For most youth, any profit (sometimes very little if any) goes toward things like a college savings account. In rural America, the addition savings may make or break some kid's chances of going to college vs. a community college.
    These kids can communicate, work in teams and make decisions like no other kids their age. Recently a long term survey of 4-Hers was published and the data showed that the ethics and life lessons they learned in 4-H stayed with them and benefited them in the careers and life.......doesn't sound like a bad activity to me.

    June 23, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  34. SB

    As a former 4H kid, I wanted to share my experiences with the program.

    Yes, I named every animal I raised, and I cried every time they passed on. The big thing I learned in my program, however, was to give my pet/4H project the best life possible, and in death the most honor possible. Death is a part of life, and how we die is as important as how we live. We were lucky to have a butcher who was very humane when it came time to end a life, and my animals were locally purchased and butchered with great care.

    Growing up on a farm, I realized that there are unfortunately many ways that an animal can die not by human hands. I saw pets killed by dogs, cars, coyotes, foxes, owls, etc...Each of these instances made me realize that humans can make the choice to kill humanely, and when done properly, you are giving great honor to the animal that you eat.

    As an adult, I am massively against the industrial slaughtering process, but I still eat meat. My family now purchases 4H or locally grown animals, and we have each humanely butchered. We say thanks to the animal that we're eating so that we can live, and in the process we're getting superb meat that is free range, hormone-free, and we know that each animal has had an excellent quality of life.

    I raised cattle, sheep and chickens, and did the canine 4H companionship program as well. I learned so much about how life works, how to be responsible, and how to truly care for our animal friends in all stages of their lives. The lessons I learned in 4H have been irreplaceable, and have held me through high school, college, and in to the working world. I still remember each of my projects by name, and I know they made the most excellent and important contribution in the circle of life.

    I know my experience may differ from other 4H programs across the country, but I deeply appreciate every lesson I learned, and would not trade it for anything.

    June 23, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  35. Proud IL 4-H Alum

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

    June 23, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  36. dodger017

    I like boys! Preferably young, hairless, and unconcious.

    June 23, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  37. Lisa

    I was a member of 4-H and it was nothing about a darn cow or growing foord. Went to camp every summer nothing like this. Can say I love beef. Do we start to listen to these stupid ass people and only eat greans because the chickens, fish, beef, pork and deer suffer for us to eat. Get a darn life and stop trying to run something so smile as this.

    June 23, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
    • Lynne

      I'm glad your experience with 4-H had nothing to do "with a darn cow or growing foord". (What, by the way, is foord?) However, it is sadly evident that you failed to get any education from there given this posting. These "stupid a– people" may simply have more compassion than you choose to offer to God's creatures. And if my infusion of God into the discussion prompts you to say God made 'em for food, may I suggest that you study the Bible. There is says the original diet was not meant to include animals at all. They were included after the fall of man and after the flood. It is also not part of the diet following the 2nd coming–in case you subscribe to that belief. But I digress. You have a right to have happy memories of 4-H. But not everyone enjoyed raising an animal only to have it become unnecessary food. Yes, that's right, unnecessary. Meat is a choice, not a necessity. Any knowledgeable nutritionist will tell you that. PS pork is not an animal.

      June 23, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
      • MWall

        Actually, it is. Pork, from the latin Porcine, aka Pig. See? Ag Education is more than animal slaughter, so how about you go learn more about what you try to criticize before you criticize it.

        June 24, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  38. thinkaboutit

    What kills me is these same people who are so fired up about protecting animals and keeping kids from being desensitized to killing, are the same ones who want those kids to think that abortion (which is murder) of a defenseless innocent human being is perfectly okay.

    June 23, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
    • Lynee

      You are absolutely wrong, Thinkaboutit. I am one of those "so fired up..." and I'm opposed to abortion as well. This should show you that we cannot make assumption about people. One kind of abuse, mistreatment or murder does not negate another. Just because I want to end the suffering of animals and how kids are harmed by exposure to some 4-H programs, doesn't mean I care any less for the unborn.

      June 23, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
      • Clu

        I'd offer that people who choose to eat meat are free to do so, and those who choose not to are also free to refrain from it. In the same vein, I'd offer that (While a bit off topic) abortion is such a personal decision on so many levels, it should not be up to anyone else to decide it for someone else. When one person removes the right of another to choose, nothing good ever comes of it, be it the choice of their diet or their lifestyle. Its subjegation.

        June 23, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
  39. Abby

    I should add, our lambs never went to industrial meat processing facilities, which is where the inhumane treatment of animals that most posters mention actually happens. Herring Brothers meat packing is a small family-run business that treats the animals it processes with as much respect as the small local farmers who raised them did. I doubt many 4-Hers send their animals to huge facilities.

    June 23, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  40. Abby

    I grew up in a rural area and raised lambs for 4-H. This was what my brother and I were expected to do, among other things, from the age of about 10 onward in order to help support our family. We started buying our own school clothes and things like that at a very young age and our 4-H auction proceeds were typically how we did it. Growing up on a farm and raising animals (and yes, butchering chickens to have for dinner) didn't make me a senseless killer. Now I live in Philadelphia and they way people treat each other and companion animals like dogs and cats in this city really blows my mind sometimes. Talk about being desensitized. Little kids take guns to school and teenagers shoot each other in the streets over drugs. Dog fighting is a popular pastime in most of our urban ghetto. A kid beat his mother to death for taking away his XBox this past spring. Our media cycle that lingers on the morbid details of every heinous crime and endlessly reports on death and pain, while kids play video games that are nothing but endless loops of death and pain, these are the true culprits. 4-H demands that you show respect for your animal and the pride I felt when I won grand champion with my docile, beautiful little lamb gave me tremendous respect for myself. The lamb had to respect me as its leader, while I led it around the ring, made it stand still and pretty for the judges, ran through the obstacle course. Only by handling the animals every day and developing a bond can you show them properly. The lamb had a cushy life, it's own stall, fresh hay and lots of fresh water every day, pasture in which to roam, and when the time came for its life to end I did not feel sad because I knew that its life had been good. It had been respected and cared for and would now fulfill its purpose in the environmental cycle by becoming food. We don't raise livestock and expend lots of resources to make them into pets. That, in my opinion, would be even more disrespectful because you're robbing that animal of its ultimate purpose and destroying the environment in the process (land area + feed + water = food or waste, your choice).

    June 23, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  41. LEB

    Oh, for crissake. Most of us DON'T raise our own food, much less personally slaughter the meat that we eat. But it has to get into that package in the grocery store somehow... how do you think it happens, magic? Kids who grow up on farms and ranches aren't desensitized, they're seeing food production as it actually is, and they're also learning that there is a difference between a pet you are emotionally attached to and a cow or a chicken you're raising to be eaten. The rest of us who have never watched our steak dinner get butchered are actually OVER-sensitized to a reality of life that ought to be normal to us, but isn't because we never see it in person.

    I get why vegans oppose animal consumption due to widespread cruelty and abuse of the major meat packing companies. Really, I get it, and to an extent I agree with them. But raising an animal for slaughter does NOT have to mean that you are treating it with cruelty. That chicken or cow or lamb being raised for slaughter can have quite the happy little life, eating all it wants and grazing out in a field somewhere before it is butchered, and professional butchers know how to kill the animal as quickly and cleanly as possible so that it does not suffer.

    It's ultimately about respect for the animal and for your food source... respect that can be observed across many cultures and peoples. It is not contradictory to care for the animal during its lifetime, keeping it fed, clean, and healthy, and then butchering it for food. That... is... what... it's... for. The family cat or dog serves an entirely different purpose. So does the family horse or ox or donkey, if it's a work animal. It is not cruel that we as humans have domesticated animals to serve our needs. It is only cruel when the animal is being neglected or harmed as it serves its purpose, rather than being properly cared for by those responsible for it.

    June 23, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  42. Jerry Jones

    Of course 4-H is there to desensitize children from the killing of animals. Children by nature are averse to this and we need to raise the next generation of butchers and livestock raisers somehow. No one likes war either, but if we don't teach our children to kill then who will protect us? If we want to keep eating meat then we must kill. It's ugly, it's messy and it might even be heart breaking, but that's life.

    June 23, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  43. dodger017

    I love Carnivore's beef stick! I savor the cocksnot that he gushes down my waiting throat!

    June 23, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  44. rj

    The only people who can really comment about 4-H would be people who raised animals for food and were not apart of 4H. Otherwise all the vegetarians and idealists commenting would like to put them out of biz. Instead of allowing an individual to decide, haters manuever to limit your choices. This same logic goes for why refineries can't upgrade without some lawsuit. Since they can't upgrade they can still maintain their label as polluters or whatever. Raising animals for food isn't abuse neither is putting them down. Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) is abuse, but I don't think those who cry abuse would stop buying hamburgers or fast food. Rent Food Inc.

    June 23, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  45. M L S

    This really is the most absurd thing I EVER heard. Eating farm animals desensitizes, but TV and video games with dead humans are OK? Our country was FOUNDED by people who raised and killed their own animals, and now suddenly the left wing-nuts thing it's desensitizing? Right! Cause food comes from, "the store," these days, not real life living breathing animals.

    June 23, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  46. dodger017

    @Carnivore
    I don't eat meat but I like pork swords, throat sausage, meat pipes, & trouser trout.

    June 23, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  47. dodger017

    @Jeff
    My boyfriend gives it to me in the seat, then I do "ATM" and clean his fudge-scented septre! I'm so gay! My breath smells like shyte!

    June 23, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  48. dodger017

    I like when my bf gives me a hot Carl. Then a pittsburg platter! I love to eat steaming piles of doo doo!

    June 23, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  49. descarado

    Is this what America has come to? A generation of weenie-boy gamers that has grown up in the bubble-wrapped suburbs? America is doomed!

    June 23, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
    • AGuest9

      I didn't grow up on a farm, but many of my uncles had one. They had to hold down jobs as truck drivers and equipment operators to pay the bills. I've taken my children to dairy farms to show them where their milk comes from, and they know about beef cattle. Meat doesn't just show up in foam containers wrapped in plastic. So many choose to think it does.

      June 23, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
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