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. Brantley

    I am a active 4h member they teach how to care for animals. they also tell about meat production but meat production is totally different then hating animals they also don't teach how to make animals suffer they tell you never to do that. this article is full of lies an you should take it down and write an article that tells the truth.

    July 7, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
  2. Mark Kuprych

    Lots of hype on this issue...there is a 4H group in my town with 8 kids between 8 and 13 years old, they are investigating raising chickens. They're already WAY ahead of their counterparts through their (4H) immersion into fertilization, cell growth and mitosis concepts, embryology, nutrition, along with getting to raise chicks /chickens from eggs and ultimately growing very high quality eggs to eat. You honestly don't have to watch too long to see these kids are learning advanced biology concepts years before their school system gets into it. This article looks more like radical vegetarianism than an honest look at "desensitizing" kids. It's a sign of the times that CNN and some media-minded people malign groups like 4H for what appears to be little more than food source ignorance. Anyone who has thoroughly investigated industrial/commercial food knows that it fails by comparison to small-scale, locally produced food. Eat a tomato, chicken, cucumber -whatever- from your backyard and see how it compares to its industrial counterpart, shipped 1,500 miles in a refrigerated truck.

    July 6, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
  3. Pete

    4-H farms are vastly more humane conditions for animals to be raised in than the medieval hell that is factory farms. That beef you picked up for $1.29 a pound came from a cow that could never so much as take a step because of how jam packed it is with other cows, never seeing the light of day or being able to move freely, living covered in defecation, sores, and only kept alive through powerful antibiotics.

    4H farms on the other hand raise animals the way it's been done for millennia – the animals are raised on small farms with freedom of movement, loving care and an overall comfortable life before it's time to fulfill its role in the food chain. Kids learning these skills is a hell of a lot better than staring at screens, and gives them an appreciation for where their food comes from. I'm all for animal rights but attack factory farms and not 4H.

    July 6, 2011 at 8:27 pm |
  4. joy whitt

    Your time might have been better spent talking about the video games that children play. 4-H is the largest youth organization in the world for a reason. Maybe you should have researched your topic a bit more. You are waaaaaaay off base on this one. In fact, I believe you might find an apology is due to 4-Hers across the country. We won't, however, hold our collective breath waiting for that to happen.

    July 6, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • Matt

      Sounds like you only read the title and not the whole post. YOU are waaaaaaay off base.

      July 6, 2011 at 11:20 am |
  5. kathy

    Wow now we are attacking the 4H program in this country. In post colonial Africa programs have been set up to get people back to subsistent farming to survive. At the rate PETA & USHS are trying to cut off our feeding our own country we will be third world with them. My son said goodbye to his 4H goat last year sitting with the animal in his stall at our county fair. The entire program is nationwide and one of the greatest bunch of people in this country volunteer to see it's success. I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to greater service and my health to better living for my club my community and my world!

    July 5, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
  6. HolsteinLover!

    This article is ridiculous. I am in my last year of 4-H and it has helped me grow more mature than any other of my college friends. And guess what?! I am a meat eater and my best friend is a vegetarian! It’s not too hard to put aside our differences. We need to stop hating on each other and let’s do that by getting the correct message out there on how food animals are raised. Don’t listen to PETA or the HSUS, considering that they have a vegan agenda and give the public many wrong pictures and misconceptions. Listen to your local farmer. And farmers, we need to tell our story before animal activists keep on doing it for us-because they aren’t getting it right.

    I come from a dairy farm and I am close with many people who raise meat animals. I know they have shed some tears when their animal goes to harvest. As time goes on, they get used to it. It’s not desensitizing them, rather they are understanding that every living creature will someday cease life. If anything, the kids are proud and happy that they were able to care for and raise a wonderful animal. The kids definitely have an attachment to their animals. They have to spend a lot of time with them-halter training them, taming them, washing them, brushing them, shaving them and showing them. Personally, I love my show cows more than some of our cats and part of that is because I’ve spent so much time with the cows. 4-H does NOT support any kind of animal mistreatment whatsoever. It is definitely required in Minnesota and highly likely in other states that the kids attend a Livestock Quality and Ethics training in order to show.

    This goes for all of us: please read this excerpt from Romans 14. “Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him.”

    I think that verse speaks for itself.

    July 5, 2011 at 10:29 am |
  7. 4H Proud

    Just so all reading this are completely aware 4H does so much more then just crafts,competitions, and skill sets. The children coming out of this program have the utmost respect for all of those around them. 4H teaches respect, leadership, the joys of education/learning as well as giving the children a sense of goals and accomplishments. These values are something the general community is lacking. i'm proud to be a supporter of 4H and will continue to encourage all youth to join in some form or another. It should also be noted that 4H provides large amounts of support in the Operation Military Kids (OMK). With out 4H OMK would not be able to provide great activities such as archery, hiking, crafts, swimming, fishing, boating and so on for the children of our deployed service members. 4H also provides the best camp counselors and organizers for these events. These staff members are trained and compassionate to the needs of the children who are struggling with there mother or father being deployed. In conclusion 4H provides so much more then the raising of livestock. Open your eyes and look into a subject before you judge others. 4H has done this and always will. They have core values taught to them to not judge others is such a harsh manner. Maybe those of you judging need to speak to a 4H member or attend an event. It would be insightful for you.

    July 4, 2011 at 6:05 am |
  8. Barbara

    I simply cannot believe this article. I was a member of 4H for years. It taught me responsibility, friendship, leadership, craftsmanship, loyalty and most of all, humane treatment of animals. I was raised young on a dairy farm and understood NATURE, of which human beings are a part of, and of which many people around the world are forgetting more and more. I am so tired of people telling me how and what to eat. I buy local and support local farms. Not just because it is healthier and better for my community and my personal health, but I also see how it supports local families and their kids. When I walk through the county fair and look at all the 4-H booths, I well up with pride. I was once one of those kids. I have lived in the country and in many big cities around the US, and eventually found my way home again. When I hear the ignorant crap that comes out of people's mouths about 4H or farming, I get so angry. If you live in a city, you meet kids who have no idea where ANY of their food comes from. Period. Not meat or vegetable. They are totally desensitized to the entire food process. Ergo, they eat more crap! I see the children here in the countryside as healthy, happy and vibrant young people. Especially if they are in FFA or 4H. They tend to develop a sense of themselves and their surroundings early in life. They tend to have a good self esteem. Why? Because they learned at an early age how to actually do things and aren't molly coddled and hampered through life. They have less problems with drugs and alcohol. On the whole, as my dad, a dairy farmer for over 50 years would say, "they are darned good kids." Tell the Author to take a tour of a local dairy/beef, goat, chicken or vegetable farm and actually see the hard work, determination, and pride that comes from a farming family. As we say in our family, "never bad mouth a farmer on a full stomach."

    July 2, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
  9. catlin carrico

    This is absolutely ridiculous I have been a 4-H'er for 10 years and raising and selling market animals for 8. I am now an alumni of 4-H. To think that 4-H makes kids feel very desensitized to animals is ridiculous. Each market animal I have had I have had emotional attachment. What some people have to realize is that meat animals, like dairy animals, have a purpose. To be a meat animal and become meat is their purpose in their life. I am sure most of you on here eat a burger from say McDonalds well that burger or chicken sandwich even, was a living breathing animal at some point. To say you are not supporting 4-H due to market animals is stupid plain and simple.

    July 2, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  10. Another 4H Mom

    If you want to teach your kid how to eat local, sustainable food you have to teach them where their food comes from. How many of you 4H bashers out there teach your kids how their food is raised? Have any of you planted and raised a garden? Does your kid know that the carrot they are soaking in ranch dressing doesn't come pre-washed, sliced and in plastic bags? Do they know that the milk they wash their breakfast down with comes from cows? Can they identify the difference between spinach, lettuce, arugula and mesclun? Do they know that apples come from trees and potatoes come out of the dirt?

    If the answer to any of these things is no, then I argue that those of you bashing 4H have some work to do before you can talk about how we raise our kids. My child knows that food from our garden is better than the crap in the store (even Whole Foods "organic" crap isn't as good as home grown) and she knows that hamburgers and steaks come from the cows she sees when we drive down the road.

    4H is helping teach her not only about her food, but how to sew her own clothes, decorate cakes, make friends with kids from all walks of life. It's teaching her public speaking and how to have confidence in herself.

    I ask all of you 4H bashers out there – can you say the same things about your kids? Do they know where their food comes from? Can they grow their own food? Can they make their own clothes? Can they speak confidently and appropriately in any situation?

    My child is not "desensitized " to killing animals. She is hyperaware of where her food comes from.

    Kids who don't know that their hamburger comes from a cow or think that their carrots are prewashed, sliced and come with a side of ranch are the ones that are "desensitized" and are shocked when they find out that food isn't just something you go to the grocery store and magically get any time you want it.

    If you have a problem with CAFO's and the way animals are treated before they are slaughtered, go fight that battle elsewhere. 4H isn't the problem. Leave us alone and let us raise our kids to be productive sensitive educated consumers who know how to buy local sustainable food. We take the time to teach our kids.

    "To Make The Best Better" is our motto. Quit hating and pick a fight elsewhere. We'll be right here, doing what we've done for decades – raising good kids to be great adults. Can you say the same?

    July 1, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
  11. thepoint

    Lynn, I thought about that too - if the kids cry when they lose the animals, then they aren't desensitized. So that's a good thing! Maybe it would have been better to ask if they're traumatized. The headline isn't very good. I think they were alluding to trauma. But maybe that's another discussion :). Yes, 4-H does engender hard work and responsibility. I agree with that definitely.

    July 1, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  12. thepoint

    Everyone commenting should really read the article, if they haven't. The headline is misleading, unfortunately. It shows various views of 4-H (via the included comments), but doesn't call 4-H a "hater." The headline is confusing and provoking, but the article then goes into a discussion of how various folks feel about 4-H. Although the headline is provoking, as I mentioned, the article really does say good things about 4-H too.

    July 1, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
  13. Lynn

    If more youth had done a livestock project I am pretty darn sure that there would be a lot less random shootings, gang violence and more would have the basic knowledge of life. A 4-H livestock member not only picks their animal and sells it, they learn about and experience life!! The chosen animal recieves more loving than your traditionally raised livestock but there is so much more. My three kids cried every year including the all grown up age of 18, if they hadn't I would have been seriosly worried about their mental state. Learning that giving all your love and attention to someone or something and knowing that loosing them is a natural way of life does not desensitize them it gives them first hand experience in how it really feels and how to handle those emotions. It is not a game where you get great at killing everything around you without ever feeling anything and later getting the urge to go see what a real killing feels like.These children are the ones who are strong, sensative and productive members and leaders of our society 4-H gives this to our youth, the knowledge that hard work despite the sorrows is ever rewarding! They get up shortly after dawn to work the animals, groom them, feed them and all the while trying to be a nutritionist, a physical trainer learning to provide and maintain the land as well as working at being a vet. Top that off with keeping your grades up in school, playing sports and trying to be involved in just about everything that invoves leadership, then turning around that evening and doing it all over again. How can this be desensitizing or bad for our youth? It's not! This is the best teacher of life and I will always support it. They give their heads to clearer thinking, their hearts to greater loyalty, their hands to larger serviceand their health to better living for their club, community, country and world. How many hard working Americans can say that and mean it!!~

    June 30, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
  14. 4-Her

    As a 4-Her for 6 years, i have learned many values and skill needed to succeed in live. I have raised swine for 4 years and beef for 2. People disrespecting 4-Hers by calling us 'haters' is hurtful. I have raised each and every vne of my animals with kindness, love, and compassion. If people think that we dont care what happens to our animals, you obviously have not been to there when our animals are beeing loaded onto the trailer and we are forced to say our last goodbyes. There are MANY tears shed, from both girls and boys. My animals are given a great life. if you want to call us haters, go ahead, but dont make yourself look like fools because you dont know what you are talking about. If you would take the time and learn what we really do, then you would understand. I will always be a 4-her and will always be proud to say it.

    June 30, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  15. leftcoastblue

    4H is vital, because without it, how would the neocons indoctrinate the next generation of slaves to the military industrial complex...

    June 30, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
  16. thatis

    You're right, 4-H mom. I think if we're going to eat animals, we owe it to them to raise them with kindness and compassion. And yep, there's way more chance of that on a small, family, and/or 4-H farm. Most of the folks from 4-H who've posted have made a point of reminding us that they try to raise the animals compassionately and in a fashion that's right for their nature (space to move around, etc.). That's good to hear and I'm gaining a better understanding of how you all feel. Yep, I agree - shop at local stores; try not to patronize any place that supports large-scale farming like the farm in Iowa. Unfortunately, the large stores offer meats more cheaply, and it can be hard or impossible to spend extra money on grass-fed, organic meat. I have meat-eating friends who feel bad about what happens on large-scale farms (like the Iowa one), but they feel like they can't afford anything but. It's a problem. I also believe that meat from a small farm is so much better for you: no hormones, no antibiotics, no stress hormones in the tissue, and maybe the health benefits outweigh the higher cost. You're absolutely right: know where your meat comes from and if you eat meat, buy locally.

    June 30, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  17. thatis

    Story link. Warning, video is stomach churning, per others:

    June 30, 2011 at 9:09 am |
  18. thatis

    This is kind of an aside and sorry for that ... but the ABC News site has a horrific "undercover video" story about animal cruelty at a large-scale industrial farm in Iowa. The video is supposed to graphic and very upsetting. Any way this farm supplies pork to a variety of stores including Costco. It's terrible stuff. It's a real argument for, if you want to eat meat, supporting local farmers and being careful who you buy meat from. I don't think any of us, I hope, would want to support this perversion of farming. I do believe people will always want to eat meat, so if we're going to do that, let's support small and family farms that treat their animals well and slaughter them quickly and humanely. I do believe 4-H is part of the small family farm culture and from what most folks post here, sounds like most 4-Hers try to give their animals good lives. If that's all true, I'd rather support that than the horror of places like that industrial farm in Iowa.

    June 30, 2011 at 9:08 am |
    • 4-h mom

      I agree with you and do not support animals being mistreated in any way. I do not like buying from big box stores and prefer our little small town store. We know where most of our meat comes from because we support our local youth (4-H) by purchasing their projects at the youth livestock auction. A 4-H animal has had the best possible life, it is not overcrowded in a feed lot, has fresh water and the best grain. In addition they have the care/love from a child that wants it to do it's best. Come fair time they want their animal to win that blue ribbon and hopefully the purple. The sad part of this is that the child who cared for it and loved it for months must part with it.

      June 30, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
  19. thatis

    4-H Mom, thanks! And thanks for sharing. I think although we may disagree on this forum, I appreciate the opportunity to hear other viewpoints. It's good to hear your side and hear that you're proud of your son's accomplishments. It's nice to see parents interested in what their kids do and so involved. Yes, animals get into our hearts, don't they? Thanks again for sharing!

    June 30, 2011 at 8:38 am |
  20. animals4life

    I cannot possibly see 4-H as a tool to desensatize children. It was created to teach children skills as to how to care for animals properly and humanely, and teach them skills that will be used in life. But it doesn't just focus on animals. Sure, I did horses and we didn't kill them in the end, but I had friends who raised cows, and pigs for show. They were sad to see them go but they were also very proud as to how well they had rasied that animal. How healthy it was and that it was goign to feed a family, or a few. There's nothing wrong with it. 4-H was not just based on animal raising, it also focused on a lot of other life and career skills. Vegitarians and Vegans who are against killing animals for consumption for the simple reason that "killing is bad" are retarded and extreamly uninformed. The kids who participate in the 4-H program end up being far more well-rounded than the kids that sit in front of the computer and television all day. At least 4-H encourages the child, whatever program they've chosen to participate in, to go out and learn something outside of technology. Maybe get some fresh air and make friends outside the unrelenting cyber-world of Facebook, "farmville", and any other ridiculous website that has sucked america's children back indoors it seems perminantely

    June 29, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • Barbara

      Thanks so much for saying that! I totally agree. I can't stand the way kids are all cooped up inside playing video games. They need to be outside playing with their friends. Getting some sun!

      July 2, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
  21. thatis

    4-H Mom - I see my earlier comment and I can see where it probably sounded, well, insensitive toward you. My apologies. You are probably a great mom who loves her kids and wants the best for them. I typed quickly and didn't review what I meant. I apologize for that. Although I was in 4-H and lived on a farm, for me, I could never make my child sell what has become a pet. To me, and this is MY opinion, that seems insensitive. That's my opinion. When I express an opinion, I'm not saying you're a terrible person, so I'm sorry if it appeared to be that way. However, per this forum, I do wish people wouldn't just assume anyone who disagrees with what they do is someone who's never lived on a farm or been in 4-H. We can have lived on farms and been in 4-H and still disagrees with aspects of the organization. Thanks for caring about your children - it's very clear that all the moms who have posted on this form dearly love their children. No debate there!

    June 29, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • 4-h mom

      thatis .......apology accepted! I didn't make him sell his market animal, the animal that just happened to earn him that so sought after purple ribbon.When he started this project he knew that selling him was going to be the end result. As much as he was saddened by that he was committed to what he started. I admire him for seeing it through, this country has forgotten what it means to give your word or to finish what you start. The minute things get a little uncomfortable people bale. He will be a better person for being the winner that he is and not a quitter like so many. He did a very brave thing saying good-bye to an animal that we all truly loved!!!!!!!!

      June 29, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  22. thatis

    Guess what, 4-H mom? I grew up on a farm AND was in 4-H. I'm sorry that expressing my opinion causes you to hurl insults. Hope you can learn how to debate with others some day like an adult.

    June 29, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
  23. 4-h mom

    thatis – You have no idea what you are talking about I have lived on a Farm my entire life and have loved every animal that has ever crossed our property line. I cried just as much as my son but only on the inside... I'm not about to match wits with a moron, so get educated in the ag world or get a life!!

    June 29, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
  24. thatis

    I don't think anyone is saying broadly that 4-H is bad, Sam Z, just raising points about this one aspect of it.

    June 29, 2011 at 9:43 am |
  25. Sam Z

    4-H teaches life lessons and gives kids a project to call there own. Just because it doesn't envolve a ball, doesn't mean it is a bad thing. I could talk about a long list of things that 4-H brings to the table, but I will stop here.

    June 29, 2011 at 9:38 am |
  26. thatis

    4-Mom: Per your posting, "If you would of saw the tears rolling down my son's face as he loaded his animal into the holding pen after the livestock sale..."
    I would say you're the one who's desensitized, not him.

    June 29, 2011 at 9:31 am |
  27. Wyominite

    First off this article is a joke and sickens me. The problem is the fact people dont do their own research on a subject so a person will read this and have no idea of the truth and will ASSUME this is true. Which is COMPLETELY wrong. I am a 4-H leader I have been in the program for over 16 yrs. Tell me how many kids at the age of 16 were getting up at 5a.m. and taking care of there lambs and steers? Not many but My brother and I were EVERYDAY. Just so You know most of the 4-H animals in our county are auctioned and then get donated to meals on wheels to help feed people who cannot cook for themselves. So animals are not being killed in vain they are helping others live. I am not desenitized but I understand life and my children will learn to respect any animals the same way I was taught.

    June 29, 2011 at 1:52 am |
  28. Brooks

    WHo is the author of this ridiculous article and why isnt their name posted in bold letters underneath the article? I personally would like to know and I am sure millions of other 4-Hers would too. Since 1902 4-H has helped MILLIONS of students across the nation get out of the streets, turn their lives around, and succeed in numerous activites. As an active 4-Her for 9 years now I would like to say that 4-H has taught me valuable life skills. My family owns a goat farm and I have been showing since the 2nd grade and every year when it comes time to get my new show goat I become attached to my show goat and they become apart of the family. I would NEVER be okay with my goat being slaudered nor would any of my fellow 4-Her's with their animals. No matter if you show a goat, cow, chicken, lamb, pig, or horse it takes a lot of work and a lot of time spent with the animal, time that you become attached, not time spent planning to kill them. CNN you should be ashamed of yourselves. You say your home is Atlanta, Georgia (and it may be physically wise) but emotionally wise it IS NOT because Georgia 4-H has over 100,000 kids in it and if you truely call Georgia your home you wouldnt have written this ridiculous article.

    June 28, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  29. 4-h mom

    I'm so sick of tree hugging, bug eating liberals trying to shove thier lifestyles down my throat. If you would of saw the tears rolling down my son's face as he loaded his animal into the holding pen after the livestock sale you would no way say that these kids are desensitized!!!!! They love the animals that they have cared for but also know the purpose that they have, which is to be part of the food chain. I don't tell you to stay out of the trees so don't try to give me an opinion on something that you obivously know very little or nothing about!!!!!

    June 28, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  30. 4hlover

    I am sorry, but i love 4-h, and it oonly teaches us children to be strong. I am 12 and i LOVE every second of 4-h, and this is bull crap.

    June 28, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
  31. thatis

    People, people, people ... are you reading the article? It merely brings up an aspect of 4-H and then shows opinions for and against that aspect.
    David: Yes, people will disagree with you and express their opinion. That's not interfering with your right to eat meat, as you so dramatically put it.
    And some of you 4-H'ers are acting pretty darn hateful yourselves, with your rude, loud comments.

    June 28, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
  32. Katherine

    Apparently, you do not know anything about 4-H. I am a teenager and I'm in 4-H in Kansas. It's a lot more than just livestock. I've learned so much and how to work hard at something. 4-H is fun. So know you're facts before you write an article about 4-H and stop acting like an IDIOT. Bye! :) BTW, I LOVE 4-H and this is a bunch of baloney.

    June 28, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
  33. Tanya

    Whoever thinks 4-H is a bad program for kids needs to recheck their factss & talk to differant people. Its a wonderful program that I was lucky & blessed to a part of when I was growing up. I used to be very shy as a kid but because of 4-H & the people in it I was able to grow & learn from that. There's so many differant things kids can learn about. Anywhere from raising animals to understanding how bills get passed. 4-H has been around since 1902. That's over 100 years. If it was such a bad thing it never would have lasted as long as it has.

    June 28, 2011 at 12:54 am |
  34. John

    All I have to say is WOW!!!

    The first time I read this article I was so shocked that I had to read it again just to grasp the concept that 4-H "desensitizes" kids. Who comes up with these ideas? For all those so called "haters" out there, how about you go to your local fair sometime or even go to a local club meeting and actually get your facts straight about 4-H before you go bad talking 4-H. There is more to this organization then just animals. If you have even been to a fair before, you might of seen something we 4-Her's like to call our hard, damn work such as woodworking projects, leadership posters, horticulture projects and photography exhibits. These are only a FRACTION of what a 4-Her can work on all year. Do people REALLY think that 4-H is all about killing the beloved animals that 4-Her's such as myself took years to raise? What the hell is going through peoples mind these days? Yes, some 4-Her's do sell their animals at livestock auctions HOWEVER that only is a fraction of the 4-Her's, the other 4-Her's will TAKE HOME their animal to TAKE CARE of them and FEED them to RAISE them to show them next year at fair and the YEAR AFTER THAT! In my state, my county has one of the largest fairs in the state, and not even half of the 4-Her's even participate in livestock projects. So what does that mean to all ya "haters" out? That maybe 4-H is a little more then livestock? I think so. Maybe one of the most important lesson that is taught and learned in 4-H by everyone is LEADERSHIP. I will be a junior in college this fall and the leadership that were instilled in me those years ago is still being used as of today as we speak.

    For some final thoughts on this subject, a question comes to mind to all you "haters". What did you people do with you time back when you were younger, and in school? Please tell me that you were not hanging out with friends at the mall spending your PARENTS money? Oh wait! While you doing this, I was working hard on my 4-H projects with other 4-Her's showing my hardwork and being rewarded for it as well. SO you can say that I was getting a head start on my life while you were wasting yours in a mall. 4-H even led me to the college that I am currently attending. Hmmm....4-H, education, leadership? HOW can it be that these three words fit so well together? But hey, go ahead and think what you want. But I will say this, I will now and FOREVER SUPPORT 4-H and you can bet your ass that my children, when I have them, will be a 4-Her.

    June 27, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
  35. David

    All of you who don't like it feel perfectly free to not eat meat. I'm fine with that. But as for myself, and my family. Bring on the steak! Enjoy your vegetarian life, but mind your own damn business and don't interfere with my rights to eat it.

    June 27, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
  36. Kayla

    This article makes me very furious! Infact I am a very active 4-Her in Georgia, and Georgia is one of the leading animal showing states in the US. To know this is what others think of 4-Hers is outragious. Even though this will be my 1st year showing a goat most of my friends either show an animal for 4-H or FFA. I nor my fellow 4-H members have ever been taught to be known as an "animal killer". Killing animals for no reason is not the reason for showing animals. For people to think the 4-Hers and their famillies do not get emotionally attatched to the animals is wrong. Naming the animal, talking to it, playing with it in the pasture, visiting it, bathing it, and getting ready to show all it has learned from you at the next show is what raising an animal is all about. We almost think of the animals as another member of the family. Having an animal is a way of learning with life time experiences. 4-H's motto is "Making the best better" through public speaking, community service, leadership, team building skills, safety, health, agriculture awareness, outdoor activites, and freindships made. Before every 4-H activity the pledge, "I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to large service, and my health to better living, for my club, my community, my country, and my WORLD" is said because all 4-Hers are dedicated to this wonderful and healpful club each and everyday. All 4-H leaders are the best learders a child could ever want because of the life lessons they teach. The leaders never know how much of an impact they are going to make on one certain child for the rest of their live, so they teach the 4-Hers necessities in order to succeed in life. This article was not written for people to comment about what foreign country they are from, or what they like and dont like about America and their meat, or how clean the slauderhouses and hospitals are, but for the responses of the people who DO know what they are talking about because they DO have a wonderful 4-H background. Again, 4-H does not appreciate it when CNN makes a post about something they know NOTHING about!!!

    June 27, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
    • Brooks

      Well put!

      June 27, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  37. Brooks

    This is absolutley outragious.. I am an active 4-Her and NEVER HAVE I EVER been taught or told that it is okay to kill animals or that we shouldnt care that our show animal is going to be slaughtered. 4-H is more about community service and public speaking with the agricultural impact and experience added into it. So to CNN if you dont know what your talking about keep your mouth shut.

    June 27, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
  38. thepoint

    It seems sad to profit from someone who's "there for you when you have no one to talk to." Seems like a bit of a betrayal, sorry.

    June 27, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
  39. Hayley H.

    4-H is not for killing animals. It is a learning and leadership filled experience that helps kids to get out tof the house and learn about their world and community.They do projects that are fun and important to the future. Animals just happens to be one of them. We raise and show animals because they teach us responsiblity. We do get emotionally attached sometimes, but what is wrong with that? We have feelings, and animals are there for us when we have no one to talk to. They also provide college money for us when we sell them. And it promotes the meat industry, which provides food for millions of people. Eat meat! The west wasn't won on salad...

    June 27, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  40. thepoint

    Are people actually reading this article? Yes, the headline is provocative and probably offensive. But it's posed as a question, not a statement, if that helps The article then goes on to present multiple viewpoints, pro and con. Do you think every single editorial piece should agree with your viewpoint?

    June 27, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • Kayla

      Yes the title is offensive to most 4-Hers. It is kind of like saying parents kill their children or teachers kill their students, but proposing it as a question. This is just wrong and rude!

      June 27, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  41. chocolatelover

    Your headline and first statement are very unfair. Get the facts of 4-H, for starters, and then interview some of the fabulous, outstanding, mature, repsonsible, respectful, caring 4-H youth and families. We'll see who talks about the values they learn from 4-H, the lifeskills that make them successful, contributing adults. go eat your vegetables and hope they have no feelings !

    June 27, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
  42. thepoint

    Wilson, I hope you realize that all-caps means you're yelling. Hard to have civil discourse with a lot of yelling :).

    June 27, 2011 at 11:46 am |
  43. thepoint

    It's interesting how some people accuse anyone who disagrees with their point of view of not having been in 4-H or having grown up in a city ... well, I was in 4-H and I grew up on a farm. It's best not to label people - you'll often find that those labels don't stick. Also, I don't think disagreeing with anyone's point of view is being disrespectful or dissing kids (unless I missed a not nice post). People here, mostly with some exceptions, aren't attacking lifestyles, just expressing opinions and perspectives. Also, from a recent USDA census: "...Americans are still overwhelmingly eating food produced in massive industrial farms." I believe that most food is grown by large-scale industrial-complex farms, not family farms, unfortunately :(.

    June 27, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  44. Wilson

    As a current 4-Her, I find this article was written by someone who has NEVER experienced the 4-H way nor have they spent time showing animals. Although I haven't showed animals myself, I've had many friends who have.. and yes they DID alaughter the animals to eat or took them to an auction to sell, but that doesn't mean they didn't put hours upon hours upon hours of work into raising and treating their animals right. These 4-Hers that show animals have dedicated THEIR time to raise the animals. The 4-H's stand for Hands, Heart, Health, and Head.. and obviously you have NEVER recited the 4-H pledge as 4-Hers do at EVERY event that they participate in. "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". 4-Hers do not ONLY show animals but they also participate in other activities such as archery or poultry judging or forestry judging.. they also do community service and participate in services to the military kids and other organizations. The 4-H motto is "To make the Best BETTER" and by preparing these 4-Hers with life skills as the 4-H club does, the world will become a BETTER place. But if people like YOU (who wrote this article) ahve NO CLUE what you are talking about nor have you experienced the 4-H club you have NO RIGHT to say what was said especially if you DONT know the FULL and ENTIRE story! The 4-H club's mission statement is The mission of Georgia 4-H is to assist youth in acquiring knowledge, developing life skills, and forming attitudes that will enable them to become self-directing, productive and contributing members of society. This mission is accomplished, through "hands on" learning experiences, focused on agricultural and environmental issues, agriculture awareness, leadership, communication skills, foods and nutrition, health, energy conservation, and citizenship and by raising and showing animals 4-Hers are learning life skills of RESPONSIBILITY and CARING. So as a Georgia 4-H NorthEast District Senior Board Member for 2011-2012 I take this article very seriously and find it very disappointing that someone who has NO IDEA what 4-H is about could write anarticle that says 4-H "desensitizes" children.... Do you think that you have put hours of work into raising an animal, naming it, becoming friends with it.... do YOU think that YOU could go get it slaughtered and it eat?? No probably not because YOU dont understand the hard and tiring work that goes into raising an animal for show. I respect EVERY child that shows an animal because iI know I couldnt do it. So I guess if 4-H so called "desensitizes" children I guess FFA does as well. Because children of the FFA program also show animals and do the same as many 4-H families. So before someone else opens their mouth and doesnt know the full or enitre story and has NEVER experienced the 4-H experience I would suggest you research some more! Because I know that the 4-H family takes things like this VERY seriously and we don't appreciate people like YOU, who have NO EARTHLY idea what we do in the program to give their idiotic and DESENSITIVE opinion.
    A very CONCERNED and Open-minded Georgia 4-Her,
    NorthEast District Senior Board Member

    June 27, 2011 at 11:26 am |
  45. scfarmwife

    I am not here to judge or pass judgement on anyone. The joys of being American is that we all have the right to choose our own path, our family chooses to eat meat your family may not and thats ok. 4-H teaches kids about all types of lifestyles and careers not just livestock/farming. I don't think that the majority of you have a problem with the 4-H organization you have a problem with animal agriculture.

    American farmers and ranchers raises the safest and cheapest food supply in the world, for many of us (farm families) allowing our children to exhibit an animal gives them an opportunity to use the skills they have learned in everyday life on the farm. I don't expect 98% of the American population to understand since you are not involved in food production and its been generations since most of your families have but i do expect for you to be respectful of farm and ranch children. I don't degrade your children and their organizations for going against my beliefs, so please don't degrade my child.

    Everything lives and everything dies...that is the circle of life. My son knows that our market animals have a purpose and that purpose is to feed people. This knowledge empowers him to understand where his food comes from and the hard work and dedication that goes into American agriculture.

    June 27, 2011 at 11:04 am |
  46. thepoint

    Tammy, I would disagree with your statement: "You buy your food at the grocery store, but it doesn't come from there. Someone grew it, or raised it and processed it. Chances are, that someone isn't a member of a factory farm."
    I believe most of the meat we buy from the grocery store is from a factory farm. Buying locally is a different matter. Buying meat at a grocery store isn't usually buying locally.

    June 27, 2011 at 9:19 am |
    • scfarmwife

      @thepoint I agree buying meat at the grocery store isn't the same as buying local however our beef ends up on those supermarket shevlves and I am not a factory farmer, in fact 98% of U.S. farms are family farms!

      June 27, 2011 at 11:24 am |
  47. Donna

    The problem here is not 4-H. It is the way we people think of our food. We are not thankful enough for it or even realize the practices that are beiing implemented in the raising and production of it. We have allowed the process to become factory-like because we need to eat and not enough of us are willing to participate in or support local food production because we can't "afford" otherwise. Many vegetarians are vegetarians because they believe in the "rights" of animals without properly questioning how their choices affect animals also. There is also such a thing as factory farming in crops. How many animals loose habitat to endless fields of soybeans, corn, wheat, oats, lettuce and produce? You say you eat organicly? That does not mean that it wasn't grown large scale and that animals didn't loose their homes or suffer as a result. The plain fact is any choice should require thought and care when it comes to our food. I support ethical food choices whether or not you eat meat or are a vegetarian. We should be helping all organizations that has a responsiblility for teaching our kids by informing them of changes and providing the correct material so that our kids are much more responsible in their choices than we were. Supporting the small farmers to give them more power will end the power of the factory farms and large processing companies that make slaughter a hideous thing for the animals and makes all our food hazardous to us. The only way we can do this is by supporting those programs that will foster responsible smalll farmers who care about the way their animals, crops and the surrounding habitat is treated. The only way we can do that is to be much more thankful to our lord (whoever we whorship is), the earth, and the animals for their sacrifices to help us humans to survive. In the end, matter what our choices are, we humans will affect some animal in a potentially negative way. Even you who are a vegetarian and believe in the rights of animlas. It is time we ALL realized this and worked together to make things better for all. Each time you sit down to eat give thanks to the animals who made the sacrific for you... whether you are a omnivore or a vegetarian. Then support the farmers and programs who can and do make a difference for the better in the lives of ALL those animals and in the end

    June 26, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
  48. jenny

    As a senior 4-H member, I believe this is all a bunch of lies. I have attended an agricultural high school, where we raise animals, and yes, they go to slaughter. Its a fact of life. Humans were developed to eat meat, such as dogs and cats. 4-H is not the ONLY organization who sends animals to slaughter. Animals are raised, and yes, they go to food. BUT ITS HOW LIFE IT RUN AND WE TEACH KIDS ABOUT AGRICULTURE AND HOW TO RUN A BUSINESS. Not all 4-H clubs are animal related, many are arts and crafts, horse clubs (which do NOT sell animals to slaughter) and science related. Kids get attached, but they learn about life. Its all about learning the values of life: being born, growing up, and serving a purpose. 4-H is not all about slaughter, and I would never want a younger member who does not want to attend a slaughter house, go to one. There are 23 kids + adults in my club, no one has ever been to a slaughter house. I would like to attend a slaughter house, to LEARN about agriculture and LEARN how it works. 4-H is an educational program, same as FFA and school. NOT ALL 4-H CLUBS SLAUGHTER ANIMALS. Blaming 4-H for this is just another way for PETA to 'make them selves look good' because they think they are doing a good deed...but they are not. I agree with someone above me, if God didn't want us to live, and eat, animals wouldn't be here.

    June 26, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
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