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. 4-Hproud

    The author that would even have the audacity to write/publish this is clearly and idiot 4-h changed my life and helped me become the women I am today. Also my family's farm kept food on the table and put my siblings and I through college. So maybe the author/publisher of this should keep their words and idiotic thoughts to themselves.

    September 12, 2014 at 6:18 pm |
  2. Name*veronica brunjes

    Every one of the human race are omnivores, you can not wish it away. Animals eat one another, will you kill the wolf because he kills the rabbit. Is he evil and sadistic in your eyes. What of the cat whom lives to kill the mouse. If you can see that these animals are only doing what nature designed them for then look in the mirror and check out your own teeth pattern and attempt to deny the fact before you. You were designed to eat meat.As human you may choose to eat only plant fiber, but you can not deny me my natural calling in nature to eat what my body craves as the wolf craves. If you raised your own food even my garden I become emotionally attached to each plant that provides for my farm and my family. As I am attached to the calf I raise close to my heart even as I know she will be food one day.

    September 12, 2014 at 5:35 pm |
  3. 4-h advocate

    As a 10 year member myself, I would just like to say this article is both offensive to myself and to my community. I wonder if the people speaking out ever ate any meat products. This article doesn't show all the responsibility and drive that 4-Hers have. In my community we credit some of our upbringing to our clubs. Personally, my 4-H story started off when I was a shy little kid. Now I have spoken infront of groups of 2,000 plus people. I grew up being told my ideas matter. I grew up being told that I can be even more amazing then I already was. I was told that I could change people for the better. I have had more opportunities and more friends then I could ever have without 4-H. I have gone places seem things, taught younger members and given back to my community. If that sounds like a bad or evil organization, well I guess I must be bad and evil too. I will always be flattered to be compaired to such an amazing organization. And to their killing animals comment, I hope these people really understand where their meat is coming. You cannot sugar coat that. I am not trying to offend anyone, but to have hate on such an organization, it is just downright mean.

    September 12, 2014 at 5:24 pm |
  4. Dana

    I feel like we are not heartless and killers in anyway shape or form. You dont think 4h is good or should not be allowed ? really ? I have been in the project for 10 years and thouse ten years i served to my club and my community. im sorry for who ever wrote this because they have never been in 4-h. i learned lots of stuff like how to manage my money in the project how to be responsible. Also how to be a adult. I showed a sheep this year and i didnt get as much as i wanted. Hey i didnt say i was doing it for the moneyy. i was doing it for the experience ! the pride of when your stepping in that ring and that feeling of you can show what your made of and be proud. Thanks for ever wrote this because this just wrecked my whole day.

    September 12, 2014 at 5:19 pm |
  5. Pam

    Are you kidding me???? I don't have to even actually read this ridiculous "article" to know how foolish the writer is!!! Oh, we don't need our kids to understand anything about where our food comes from, right? It all comes from the grocery store and that's all they need to know. Why would we need children to grow up to be farmers? It's not like there aren't any grocery stores around – sheesh! What an idiot excuse for a writer.
    If CNN needs articles that badly that they will accept whatever anyone writes, no matter how foolish and ridiculous it is, then they surely don't need thinking people to subscribe to their news services.

    September 12, 2014 at 5:04 pm |
  6. Mandy

    CNN lost my respect today for publishing such an uneducated, biased article. To make such horrible, uneducated statements about an amazing organization like 4-H shows the heart of what is wrong with this country.

    September 12, 2014 at 4:59 pm |
  7. Todd

    Nice, slam the evil 4-H organization for raising heartless killing machines.

    How about an equally informative article on the care given to animals in the mega-feedlots?

    September 12, 2014 at 4:52 pm |
  8. crazymommamel

    So, my high functioning autistic son is being desensitized?

    Interesting. In reality, he is more animated, has a better response to morality and life in general and is catching up to his age group in social development. His Occupational Therapy Program has discharged him, due to working with the animals and training them ETHICALLY, and his stuttering has all but stopped. It MAKES him calm himself down (because being easily excited around a full size Holstein heifer is not the correct repsonse). All because of the Dairy 4H Program.

    But it makes him evil?

    Wrong again. Please educate yourself and others in the CORRECT programs and functions of this wonderful organization. They have done wonders not only for my autistic son, but also for my tennage son, and for my daughter when she is old enough to join. Even as a spectator, my daughter loves all aspects of this organization and so do I. Your biased attitude is shown in spades, and if you have noticed ANY of the comments at all, you will see that you are just honestly, wrong.

    September 12, 2014 at 4:30 pm |
  9. Clarissa

    I was a 9 year member of 4-H and during that time I showed rabbits, chickens, and cattle. I also had photography and horticulture projects. I had an attachment to every animal I showed and I bawled every time I sold one of my animals. The writer of this article should go and watch a county fair livestock auction. Then tell me that they still think that 4-H is "desensitizing" kids after they see a kid that has just lead their calf onto a trailer bound for the sale barn. When they see that kid with tears rolling down his/her face, holding that empty halter. I can tell you from experience that it is one of the hardest things to do. That empty halter represents all the hard work, blood, sweat, and tears that you put into that project. I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to be a part of an organization that teaches youth to be strong, hard working, responsible, and kind to all. I am a better person from being in 4-H.

    September 12, 2014 at 4:26 pm |
  10. State 4-H officer

    I am a State 4-H officer and I have been a member for 10 years. 4-H does the opposite of desensitizing kids. We learn to take care of animals and yes, we sell them for a profit. We know as small children that our cute calves, lambs, piglets, etc. will all go to slaughter after fair or in the big picture when they are fully grown. This is the way we are raised. A small percentage of the American culture has to feed this country. We have to produce more food with less resources. 4-H helps educate youth that raising livestock can be fun and rewarding but it also is needed by our country and world. Each person is entitled to their opinion about slaughter and animal rights but to say that an organization like 4-H is bad for youth is off the wall. 4-H makes youth that are passionate and focused in all aspects of life. We have more compassion for animals! We learn leadership and so many other life skills. 4-H has truly changed my life for the better.

    September 12, 2014 at 3:56 pm |
  11. joejoe markingstiene

    This Article......
    Posted by: Eatocracy Editors

    September 12, 2014 at 3:39 pm |
  12. ThePatrioteer

    Wow, is this completely stupid. Livestock are raised to produce food, be it meat, eggs, milk, whatever. Man has been eating meat for millennia. It is the way of nature.

    I have been a hunter most of my life. I feel for every animal I harvest for food. Not sadness, per say, but gratitude. What desensitizes people to raising and slaughtering animals (which I have done as well) for food is the grocery store.

    September 12, 2014 at 3:33 pm |
  13. L. Sporer

    Just wow.
    Amazing how you can JUDGE the life lived in agricultural communities and the core of farm life when you CLEARLY don't get it! CLEARLY!
    4-H is THE premier youth program in the world!!!
    Livestock projects educate youth so that one day they may follow in the footsteps of many generations of respectful cattle industry families. These animals are the last thing they think about at night & the first thing they think about in the morning.
    The food projects teach youth to prepare & enjoy healthy foods!! We wouldn't want prepared youth to grow up to be parents who actually know how to prepare a meal rather than ordering one or going out to eat for every meal...would we?

    Unless you're a vegetarian...which is in itself...unbelievable to have no right to judge. You do have a choice...not to enroll your own kids into a local 4-H program.

    I am a proud 4-H alumni, a former county extension director & now a big supporter of 4-H kids and the program they love! It is the heart beat of many rural communities.
    Remember US the next time you order a prime rib, ribeye, hamburger, chicken strips or enjoy french fries or tater tots with your milk shake or a spinach salad with vegetables!!! You could take a moment to thank the farmer and the child he/she once was who dreamed of being a farmer when they grew up!!!

    September 12, 2014 at 3:19 pm |
  14. Amanda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    September 12, 2014 at 2:58 pm |
  15. Sabrina W.

    Okay first off, I have a attachment to all my animals and I show and sell goats. Just because we eat them doesn't mean we don't care about them. Every year at are 4-H county sale there is always someone who cries because the person that bought their animal wanted to keep it instead of pay part of it and letting the kid keep it. Just because we don't let it show doesn't mean we don't get upset about are animals when they have to go or when they die. I am a proud 4-H member and I have learned so much from 4-H. I can care properly for my animals and I have learned of many ways to keep my animals safe and healthy. I know that when I sell them that not all of them are going to end up as breed stock. I know that some will go to lockers and thats fine. Just think of this; If the poor people (or people that just really need food and money) had animals that they could raise every year and have their animals butchered then they wouldn't starve. If they sell the animals then they can have money to get clothing. Not everyone can get jobs, but many people can find their own means of making money. For a kid that is not old enough to get a job raising animals is one of their few options to do. Money they can use to go to college or just to better their lives and their animals lives.

    September 12, 2014 at 2:46 pm |
  16. Midwestern Farmer

    I was a 4-Her for almost 9 years, and still to this day help wherever I can to help other children learn the amazing lessons the organization teaches youth about not only the world around them, but also about themselves.

    I raised cattle, goats, dogs and swine for almost all of my career in 4-H. Yes it hurts to see one of your animals be loaded onto a truck and know they're going to become food. But you know what, I took pride in myself for raising an animal that would feed a hungry stomach someday. I hate to see that people are so hypocritical to think they can bash a program that is providing food, services, jobs, and education for them. You don't like it that children are being educated in a proper environment and can grow up mature and respectful to you ad the world around you, move to the Moon. Oh wait, there's educational programs in 4-H for astronomy too so they probably wouldn't enjoy seeing your ugly and hateful mugs on the surface.

    Animal husbandry and food science isn't the only programs 4-H teaches. They provide programs for everything from textiles to woodwork, art to conservation, even fashion and music.

    What school teaches all of that and gives children the opportunity to be exposed to new things through hands-on experiences outside of a blackboard and chock? I don't know any that give you ribbons for projects in those areas, or that promotes creativity by letting them chose their 'homework' to show what they've learned.

    FFA is generally run through schools, and they are very similar to 4-H. So, that being said, you'll have to get rid of FFA programs too because they do the exact same thing when it comes to raising animals for food.

    Children have to grow up, and what better way to do that without getting them hurt by violence on the street or on television by putting them in a safe and well educated organization like 4-H? You think 4-H 'desensitizes' children to life and death? Try a child being raised on a television screen where killing others is fun, makes you the top dog on the street, and gets you all the hot guys or girls. Does that sound like a real educational or human way to learn the lessons of life?

    And what about respect? I have never met a 4-H child or former 4-Her who shows a lack of respect for people, animals or the planet as a whole. Because of idiots like those arguing against 4-H, less and less children are becoming respectful, responsible and generous adults. It makes me sick and I can't help but cry for the children I see in schools today that bully each other, their teachers and their parents. I'm tired of seeing dogs and cats run and hide under the furniture or run away from home because they feel unsafe around children who constantly kick, scream and punch them. I also don't like to hear that the family had to buy another pet because the first one defended itself by biting the child or the parents who didn't do a thing to discourage the horrible treatment.

    I'm sorry, but 4-H is saving lives of both humans and animals by teaching respect, responsibility and true kindness.

    So, if you hate 4-H so bad, don't eat meat or vegetables ever again. They were probably raised by a 4-Her and sold to provide you with a meal. Don't buy milk or chees either. I'm sure a 4-Her raised that dairy cow or dairy goat to give you those too. Oh, and you probably should stop driving your car or truck too because a former 4-H or FFA member grew that corn to make ethanol.

    Without 4-H, you wouldn't have a lot of things you think you need or have a right to have.

    Show a little respect for an organization trying its best to make this world a better place through education and manners, and show a little respect to those who were in those organizations at one time because they're growing and providing you with food, services, jobs and technology.

    September 12, 2014 at 2:35 pm |
  17. JD

    Props for looking at both sides CNN, but as always MAJOR fail on being fair/unbiased toward both sides. Your headline is a question. Your image you chose, as well as the primary flavor of the article has already settled for the reader CNN's stance on 4-H. "It should be noted that animal husbandry and sales are only a portion of what 4-H Clubs do." Is the fact that you hid at the bottom of the article that negates all these trolls who you decided to let into the light for some reason. Do you know how the internet works? At least give us a stat on how many naysayers versus those approving of 4-H there were. Be a little more objective than this please, it's embarrassing as a journalist to see such a disparaging article about longstanding, overall positive educational organization. Quit pandering.

    September 12, 2014 at 2:27 pm |
  18. Name*

    I AM NOT A COLD BLOODED KILLER and I am seriously pissed off at this article written by someone who has obviously never been in 4-H and knows nothing about what they teach us. They teach us that animals are food for the hungry and starving people. That they have a greater purpose then to be someone's pet that they can feed your family and you should respect them and take care of them because without them your family could go hungry. I don't understand why you put negative thoughts in people head about 4 H when there are kids out there that don't understand the sacrifice it takes to put food on the table who don't care about where it came from. Those are the people you should be bad mouthing not the kids who know what it takes to put food on the table –

    September 12, 2014 at 1:56 pm |
  19. angela

    Wow it just makes me sad that people think this stuff about 4-H and that kids in 4-H grow up to be heartless people. As a 4-H member for 8 years know (and I'm only 14) I do not believe any of this sh*t for one second. I show dairy cows at my county fair and I would never ever kill my cows unless they were suffering and in extreme pain. I also know many 4-Hrs who show beef cows and pigs and such and end up selling them in the auction and none of these people grow up to horrible animal haters the main reason they show meat animals is for the experience and learning opportunities. Although I have noticed some people grow up not liking their showing experiences due to the fact that there parents are the ones who want there kids to do better than everyone else although I personaly have not met one person who shows or takes exhibits or is in 4-H for that matter who has had a horrible time doing 4-H activities. For most, (including myself) the fair is the best week of their summer. I think I speak for many 4-Hers and there parents when I say 4-H is an AMAZING program and offers great opportunities for scholarships and exploring different career paths for our future.

    September 12, 2014 at 1:46 pm |
    • Grimm

      Thank you for speaking up as a teen who is growing up as a part of 4H. I wish I had that privilege to be a part of 4H as a teen.

      September 12, 2014 at 2:21 pm |
  20. andy

    As i read this article all I could do was laugh to myself. This is what a completely uneducated person sounds like. Through the livestock clubs we learn how to support ourselves, how to breed animals to produce better ones and how to judge an animal. We learn to care for the animal, to feed, bed and wash them. These animals are given the best lives. They are loved and respected. If you have ever been to a 4h show, you will not have seen an abused or malnurished animal there. Each year I spent hundreds of dollars raising the animals and when time comes to sell the animals, I barely make enough to break even. Making a profit is not the point of 4h, learning to be responsible, learning to respect the animals, learning to stand up to those who do not. Each year 4h is educating youth to grow and take responsibility for their actions, to go out and make a difference instead of sitting around and to raise animals in a healthy and respectful environment.

    September 12, 2014 at 1:27 pm |
  21. No better organization than 4-H

    I was in 4-H as a youth, my mother sisters nephews were and my son IS. The statements made by many of the commentators are obviously written by people who have absolutely no true agricultural background whatsoever and have no in depth knowledge of 4-H and what it stands for and what it involves.

    4-H encompasses so much more than just the livestock portion mentioned here. There are a ton of activities children can do from baking, to dog projects, to small engines, braiding, public speaking, sewing..the list goes on. They have dances and fund raising activities and the children learn to work as a group, as well as on an individual level. Most important – they learn to value the efforts of hard work and are truly happy when their peers do well. They make friends and have lasting happy memories. Some of my best memories are the years I spent in 4-H.

    Livestock? Selling of livestock is the big issue here? Buck it up. Many of these kids will be going into the agriculture industry which supplies food to the masses of people (such as some of the commentators) who think their food comes from the grocery store. These children learn that the raising and selling of livestock is a part of life. My son knows where his food comes from and yet, he is a normal well adjusted child with respect and morals. I was raised knowing animals would come and go and yet, I managed to grow up just fine. Life long lasting impacts? No. I am not hardened to the loss of life but I am realistic and grounded. I don't live in this bubble where I feel it's ok for others to provide for me. I would rather have the beef from a steer I raised in my freezer than anything else.

    4-H gives children opportunities to grow and better themselves. They know the value of hardwork and I have met very few who weren't respectful to their friends and to adults.

    I am proud of my 4-H heritage and I am proud to be passing it on!

    September 12, 2014 at 1:25 pm |
  22. Proud 4-h mother

    I was never a 4-h member, but when my daughter wanted to join and raise animals, I knew it would be hard, but a great experience for her. She had a hard time the first time she had to send her goat to the packer. After that she bred her doe and raised 11 babies from that animal. One died soon after birth. One time here doe became sick, after expensive vet visits, the doe became well and delivered twins. Because of that experience, my daughter is studying to become a vet. She has earned many scholarships and saved up a lot of money for her tuition. 4-h taught her to be a confident, well-spoken, organized young woman. She was involved i baking, leatherwork(which she has sold many items), photography, showing ducks, rabbits and goats. I am proud of all she has accomplished. We have never eaten anything raised by her, but she has learned what it is all about. Please don't put down an organization without talking to those involved and learning what all 4-h has to offer our youth. Our community receives so much in community service because of those involved. Much better than sitting at home watching tv, being in gangs or waiting for handouts. These youth get involved and make a difference!

    September 12, 2014 at 12:55 pm |
  23. jessica

    So let me get this straight. You would rather that people dont know where their food comes from and keep kids blind to it instead like what is happening to kids in the city who dont even know what the animal looks like that they are eating?

    4h supports the knowledge of raising your own animals respecting them and then eating them. If you dont support this you are indirectly supporting a country that only has commercial farming consisting of mass scale f eedlots and doesnt treat the animals like living things. At least these animals raised by families are loved respected and well cared for the time they are here.

    September 12, 2014 at 12:32 pm |
  24. Kat Kinsman

    Hi all! I just wanted to note that this article is from 2011. We listened up and turned the mix over to farmers to tell their own stories, and you can read them all here:

    September 12, 2014 at 12:30 pm |
  25. Emily

    Heather King and everyone else who has anything negative to say against 4H is just plain ignorant. Do you know where your food comes from? Do you know how the chicken you ate for dinner was raised? Do you have any idea how to properly care for and slaughter a cow? Didn't think so. There is a huge disconnect between the general public and the animals they eat every day. 4H educates kids on this (and many other) topics so that they understand and appreciate the meat you buy in a supermarket. 4H kids involved in livestock projects are taught how to properly care for animals, and definitely have no intention of the animal being mistreated before it is slaughtered. Every child in America needs to know where their food comes from. Educate yourself.

    September 12, 2014 at 12:25 pm |
  26. FOX

    I was a Proud 4-H member, growing up. I grew up on a farm raised sheep and Rabbits and yes Showed them , sold them for meat and sent them to the butcher so we could have food in our freezer. We were taught about the Circle of life and Responsibility, we also were active in our community, Volunteering and educating others about Farm life and how to provide care and food for your animals.not to mention how to do things such as cook, fish, sew, build and be social. as for People who don't really understand 4-H they should go to their local County Office and read the fliers and pamphlets or just go online and check it out. There are so many Programs, that everyone can Benefit from. 4-H is just not for us Country kids its for everyone. And if there are no local 4-H programs ask your state reps about it, 4-H is state funded and sometimes if there is no interest the program goes away .

    September 12, 2014 at 12:15 pm |
  27. Jennifer

    4H and the raising, showing and ultimately sale for slaughter of market animals does not desensitize children. If anything it makes them more sensitive to an animal's quality of life.
    What does desensitize children are violent video games where characters die all the time.

    September 12, 2014 at 12:01 pm |
  28. benjaminhough

    4-H desensitizing kids? I am a 4-H member, however, I do not show animals nor sell them. I do even have an animal. I do woodworking, and model rockets. However, I know people who do. The people that I know take extremely good care of their animals, and will for the rest of their life. Hundreds of years ago, everybody raised animals for food, now only a select few do. Where will we get the food we need if nobody is willing to do it. Humans are omnivores, which means we eat both plants and meat. I don't care what anybody says, it is not healthy to eat just meat, or eat just plants, we need both. 4-H has benefited me in ways a can't even describe. If I have kids, I will greatly encourage them to be involved. It saddens me that people could even think that kids learning how to raise animals and make a living would be considered evil. Humans, running around the streets, shooting humans is evil, not getting a chicken to eat. What's next, woodworking is murder? Outrageous.

    September 12, 2014 at 11:57 am |
    • benjaminhough

      One more thing, these are animals, not your girlfriend. Sure, I love animals, there cute. However, a relationship with an animal is completely different than that with a human being.

      September 12, 2014 at 12:01 pm |
  29. hilkyway49

    Has anyone done a study to see if a lack of animal protein in ones diet results in "brain atrophy"?

    September 12, 2014 at 11:34 am |
    • Julian Assange

      Yep. Says so right there in Wikipedia.

      September 12, 2014 at 12:18 pm |
  30. Patricia

    Every member of my family has been a part of 4-H and to read people stating that we are taught barbaric ethics is just simply stupid. I grew up knowing that' my food was raised or hunted for, I never new that meat could be bought from a store, we had a butcher and that was were meat came from. Yes, our children cry when they have to sell their livestock projects, because yes they cultivated a relationship with a 1400lb steer, but we also teach them that a family is going to eat a healthy hamburger because of their hard work. If America continues to allow uneducated, rose colored glass wearing tree huggers decided where our food comes from then stop complaining when the food source is bad. 4-H teaches children how to become organized, goal setting, well rounded citizens, who will become doctors, lawyers, teachers, football stars, and nurturing parents on day. 4-H helps cultivate powerful leaders not followers.

    September 12, 2014 at 11:28 am |
  31. Trent Loos

    Everything lives everything dies and death with a purpose gives full meaning to life. These kids understand that like no other you only live if something else dies plant or animal.

    September 12, 2014 at 11:23 am |
  32. Name*dawnna

    I'm a mother of 4 girls that are in 4H, my girls raise and show breeding and market animals. They spend hours of time with these animals,these animals are not raised as pets they are raised to provide people food. They sometimes do become attached to one of the animals that they sell but they understand what purpose the animal has.
    But raising animals is only a small part of what 4H is, all kids are required to do a public speaking demonstration. We have kids in computers, photography, cooking/baking and rocketry to name a few. I'm proud of my kids being in 4H if you have ever spent time with these kids at a fair you would see hard working, responsible kids learning how to win graciously and loose humbly. Fact of life not everyone gets to win the blue ribbon.

    September 12, 2014 at 11:22 am |
  33. Sara

    I was a vegetarian for 11 years and a animal well as a member of peta.....I also was involved in 4-H for almost all of my youth and showed birds. I still breed and show birds. I never slaughtered any of my animals, however the kids that did I believe from PERSONAL experience always cared a lot for there animals and treated them well, they have more insight into what goes on in the process of making food in this country and care more about whether its done humanly or not, most other people do not care because 1. they don't know or 2. they have never bonded with a farm animal.....this article couldn't be more WRONG.

    September 12, 2014 at 11:10 am |
  34. glassesnstashes

    My favorite year project they have now is bully prevention, a subject most people sweep under the rug

    September 12, 2014 at 10:50 am |
  35. glassesnstashes

    This might be one of the most misinformed articles i have ever read. They act like that is what 4-H is all about. I have been involved in it for fourteen years now. The clubs are more about leadership, being a better person, and giving back to your community in volunteering and such. We have been taught to use our own heads and hearts to care more than what we see around us and do the right thing. To be a informed leader. And there are yearly projects. Now when 4-H originally started most of society was an agrarian society, and the kids where taught how to properly take care of animals (unlike big meat farms you have seen in the news a lot lately). We are taught animals are for food sometimes but that doesn't mean that they shouldn't have a wonderful life beforehand and be raised healthy and free of disease, lack of food or clean shelter, or mistreatment. You are responsible for it's health like a good owner should be. And of course you for a relationship with the animals, they are your pals every day for a year or more. As more and more people have left farms for more populated areas and fields have turned to housing developments, there are other projects you can do yearly such as vet science, photography, one you can make into anything you want to do, electricity, cooking, fitness, banking, robotics aerospace, entomology, green-conscious subjects, and one called charting you take as a teen to really get to know yourself, your strengths, the quirks that make you you, your dreams, your loves, and embrace them. Which is really a good thing as well because at a time when everyone is trying to tell you what to grow up to be and where to go to college, sometimes you need to slow down and think about what you want in your life, not someone else. Everything is about the motto to make the best bettter. These kids are the ones who because of this program stay out of trouble, find their voice when they are crippling shy, and learn what you do ripples out to others whether it be good or bad. If i could complain about any club it would be scouts because i was sad to learn as a child that in girl scouts i wouldn't be out in the woods building fires and learning knots and skills, i'd be selling cooking and designing t-shirts and having, and i'm serious, nail parties.

    September 12, 2014 at 10:48 am |
  36. Kyle Sabourin

    This is a very uninformed article. Not only does it hurt 4-H programs, it distributes propaganda about 4-H and farming communities. Much of what is written in this is unfairly angled and untrue.

    September 12, 2014 at 10:28 am |
  37. heftyjay

    If 4-H desensitizes kids to killing, then so do flyswatters

    September 12, 2014 at 10:26 am |
  38. Laura

    My jaw dropped reading this article. 4-H only holds positivity for today's youth that are growing up way too fast. 4-H is not just about animals and crafts. There are so many programs available to the youth that spark interest in the sciences, math, and renewable energy. Programs that promote and encourage going to college and exploring different career paths-anything from farming to computer science to running a wind farm. 4-H is growing and evolving to stay relevant and important in today's culture. Cleary the author of this article did not do their homework on what an amazing and inspirational program 4-H is for our kids. If they wanted to attack something that is ruining the youth of today, why not attack the Kardashians, the student loan debt crisis, or bullying.

    September 12, 2014 at 10:22 am |
  39. Tim Rask

    Hands down the worst, least researched article ever written. If the author, who wasn't even man enough to attach his/her name to this, had taken the time to understand what 4-H does and the values it instills in kids, the article would have been a complete 180 of what it is. How much is PETA paying you to write this shit???

    September 12, 2014 at 9:46 am |
  40. Kim C

    OK I know this article is a few years old, but I just found it and I have to voice my opinion so CNN doesn't do another stupid article like this.

    CNN, you need to get your facts straight before you starting talking out your butt about things you are clearly uneducated about. This is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard. The kids are not desensitized to the killing of animals. They know they are raising these animals for food and the process of it. If you knew anything you would know that part of the Master Stockman test is knowing the cuts of meat of you animal, parts of your animal, what it is used for, processing and many other things.

    I am going to 1000% agree with with was Korey stated. 4-H kids are some of the best kids there are. They have respect for their earth, the animals and the hard work and dedication it takes to raise a good product people are wanting to purchase. They take pride in the their animals, their crops and the learning. They are never in the news for causing trouble or drugs. I have yet to hear a report of "John Smith from XXXX County, a 4-H kids, arrested to today or robbery". More kids should be involved in 4-H and learn the real reason animals are on this earth and how to really work for your food. CNN do more research!!!!!!!

    I love how this is posted as Animal Rights . . . does the Animal Rights people know that Vegetables are also living organisms as they have roots and grow and as soon as you pick them from the ground you are killing them as well. So all Vegetarians and Vegans are also Murderers.

    September 12, 2014 at 9:34 am |
  41. Darby M.

    Generally I do not rant via Social Media. However, I feel this article is absolutely absurd. First of all, 4-H isn't isolated to livestock programs. 4-H has programs to teach programs ranging from responsible consumer purchasing to public speaking to presentation preparation. As far as processing an animal after the livestock project is completed it is entirely at the discretion of the animal owner. These projects teach responsibility of caring for and raising animals as well as educated on the value of the farm to food process. The processing of 4-H project livestock does not desensitize children to "cold-blooded" killing of animals. I mean...where do they think the nicely packaged meat for sale in the local grocery originally comes from? It is imported or from a mass commercial production where the animals, more than likely, are not treated humanely. While I am sure that some of the 4-H Club members do bond with their animals and they are more than welcome to sell the animal or keep as a pet to die in barn somewhere of old age or disease.

    September 12, 2014 at 9:15 am |
  42. Golden

    I think it is telling that responses from former & current 4-H members are well thought out, educated posts, and that the posts from the opposite camp are short, hateful and come across as immature uneducated individuals. Or they just can't be bothered to put together a well thought out response.
    4-H is amazing, and doesn't only involve market animals. What about the sewing and baking, and non-market showing of animals? I am a breeder of show goats and I can assure you that the animals I sell to 4-H'ers are used for showing and breeding only. They are not a market breed. Just the same though those 4-H'ers are learning some valuable skills. You would prefer to see youngsters loitering on a street corner? Or using their gift money for an X-box instead of a promising show animal? My kids are far from desensitized to killing, more like well grounded, educated, and have an understanding of the cycle of life. Notice how much human killing goes on between individuals without the benefit of these programs, perhaps the alternative is the lack of understanding of how final death really is and the consequences of their actions.

    September 12, 2014 at 9:04 am |
  43. Steve

    Typical liberal tripe we have come to expect from the likes of CNN. But to CNNs credit, they did quote comments from both sides of the argument. Though instead of taking the word of liberal trolls throwing around claims of 'desensitizing kids to killing', they should have shown a little journalist integrity and actually assigned someone to investigate the organization. The author of the article clearly did not do this. They relied solely on the comments from unverified sources.

    I can not expand on the virtues of 4H beyond what so many other posters have listed, so I won't bother. But I will say this – how many times have you read in the paper or watched a story on the news about 4Hers robbing stores? Or gangs of 4Hers assaulting and killing people? Or selling drugs? I can't think of any. Most every kid I have watched come up through agricultural based organizations like 4H and FFA turned out to be some pretty responsible adults... with a firm grip on reality. Young adults that were prepared for life and all the ups and downs that comes with being human. Every one of them understanding the circle of life and having an appreciation for our agricultural heritage. We need more kids in 4H and FFA getting exercise and learning skills, and less kids getting fat and lazy sitting on the couch playing Xbox all day. Talk about kids desensitized to killing...

    September 12, 2014 at 8:55 am |
  44. Marcy Hudson

    As an 11 year 4-H veteran and former Ashtabula County, OH 4-H Extension Agent, I would like to ask one simple question. I would love to know how many of those persons currently in prison or ever in prison were in 4-H? Or how many of the high school shooters we have around the US were in 4-H? I'm not saying or implying that 4-H kids are perfect or totally innocent. And I could be wrong, maybe the numbers would astound me. But I would bet that the number is very low. So you can say all the negative you want about 4-H. But the values I learned in my life are somewhat due to 4-H. I love animals more than a lot of people who weren't in 4-H. Shame on you.

    September 12, 2014 at 8:49 am |
  45. Jessica

    This article just makes me mad. If your going to hate on 4h what about FFA? Or just farmers in general? Vegas that's what they do. I've been in 4h for 12 years and it's done nothing but help me in every aspect of my life! I never even raised animals! Just delete this article.

    September 12, 2014 at 8:49 am |
  46. cfhomestead2014

    I wonder what would happen if all former 4-H members went on strike? I think the people who think that it's only about killing animals would be shocked to see how companies would shutdown be the owners / CEO's are former 4-H. Then when there was no food in the grocery stores, they can eat air (which is were many of these people think their food comes from), because no one would be harvesting the soybeans for the TOFU. It's people like the ones who say that children learning where their food comes from is a bad thing, that live in a state of oblivion as to what they are eating, and would eat rat poison if it was packaged nicely and was sold with flashy commercials. Anyone else remember the movie Soylent Green?.

    September 12, 2014 at 8:36 am |
  47. Tammy

    4-H I so much more. I had a recreation tech job in an institution because of my 4-H experience. It kept us busy and we did learn the value of the circle of life. I was one that cried when my show steer had to be sold. I learned the proper way to conduct meetings, compromise and the best experience I ever had.

    September 12, 2014 at 8:30 am |
  48. pat

    The thought of this hole article is just ridiculous. I was in 4-h and ffa growing up. I now raise show animals to sell to kids for show watching these kids raise these animals take care of them all summer get up early and work their butts off to get the animal ready for show is incredible. There are many times I see kids cry when they have to sell their animals. Do you see kids in the big city working like this? Learning life skills so they can down the road produce the meat and food that people in the city take for granite. The person who wrote this article I'm sure eats meat just like most of America where do you think it comes from? That's the difference between people in the country and people in the city. I know how much work it takes to produce meat for people and giving 4-h kids the chance to learn that is great because without farmers your city ass would starve just remember that.

    September 12, 2014 at 8:25 am |
  49. Taylor

    This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever read . I recently just finished my last year in 4H and was devastated. Not because of "the horrors" I was taking part in, but because I had been in it since I was 8 years old and it had been a major part in my childhood. It taught me many valuable life lessons such as responsibility, hard work, respect for others, and sportsmanship to name a few. I was involved in multiple projects ranging from saddle horse, to rabbits, sewing, sheep breeding and marketing, and dairy beef feeders. My sheep projects would be sent off to slaughter at the end of the fair unless they were breeding, then they would come back to my house. A Dairy beef feeder project is a feeder project for a reason. They go to fair when they're around 7 or 8 months old. At the auction someone purchases them (yes, for consumption at some point) but then brings them back their farm to be fed out until the proper weight for slaughter (about 4-6 months). Now here in Ashtabula county Ohio, we take our 4H and FFA very seriously. Our FFA program is continuing to shrink but many kids I know are involved in 4H and love it. These children bring animals to fair and love the entire experience. 9 year olds taking care of animals 10x their size, but they trust it and love it because they've worked with it. At the end of the week, the market barns are a miserable place to be. Sunday night the trucks come in to take the animals to their new places. Some for slaughter, others go back. I have comforted a countless amount of kids of all ages because they were heartbroken to send their animals off. They know what's going to happen and are not at all desensitized. They built a bond with that animal over the course of a year. Going to take care of it, being with it from the time it's a baby and when it gets sick. Day in and day out. It's a long process. Now I don't know what happened to our country. But 4H used to be something that a lot of people loved and supported. It still is obviously by some of these comments. But for this article to be written in the first place is shameful. Since when is everyone concerned with everyone else? We have to tiptoe around our own beliefs and others so we don't offend anyone. 4H is not something to be ashamed of in the least. These kids grow up knowing the value of hard work and responsibilities. If you walk through a barn during fair week, you'll see all the animals fed, watered, clean, and in clean stalls. They are happy. Why not give them a happy existence while they're here and teach a lesson at the same time? We can't bring our animals to fair if they don't meet specific standards. They have to be healthy. Now if we were aiming to harm anything or prove that life is meaningless, we wouldn't do everything in our power to make sure those animals are clipped, cleaned, healthy, and polished. Which takes weeks before fair to even start. That cannot be completed without a good home life for that animal BEFORE it comes to fair. Before people open their mouths about something being unfair or harmful, they need to look at every possible angle and tell the whole story. One sided arguments will get us all nowhere. I am now a freshman in college and I use all of my skills I have learned and taken from this organization in my everyday life and I am grateful. And I know many others in my area feel the same.

    September 12, 2014 at 8:11 am |
  50. Makayla Plummer

    Vegan. Vegetarian. Liberal. Conservative. PETA believer. Agriculturalist. I don't care who you are. Unless you have personally been involved with genuine agricultural or 4-H, you cannot judge 4-H's program.
    As a current college student and past 10 year 4-H member who has been involved with this extraordinary program, I can do nothing but applaud my county and state's 4-H program for all they have given me. Did I mention that because of the money I earned in those "god awful" and "desensitizing" auctions is the very money that is currently giving me a higher education?
    What do you think these kids are buying, marijuana? Alcohol? Pregnancy tests?

    Have you ever been to a 4-H auction and watch a 4-Her walk up to the buyer and sincerely thank them for their donation? Have you even heard of a buy back? Did you even know that selling your animal is mandatory?

    Out of all the sports and clubs I participated in, 4-H and FFA instilled core values into me.

    Have you all forgotten the "So God Made a Farmer" speech?

    If you're a vegetarian, awesome!!! I am enthralled you are standing up for what you believe in, just as I'll do the same. But don't bring down a program who's values go way beyond a project. The livestock is just a portion of 4-H; it's mainly about leadership and responsibility. Behind every project is a young person. I can assure you that my children will participate.

    September 12, 2014 at 7:59 am |
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