May 2008
4-H Extension Corner

4-H Extension Corner

By James Shropshire

Hello again! Spring is here and isn’t it LOVELY! New growth and the renewing of our Beautiful America…go enjoy it with the youth from your county. The 4-Hers from across Alabama have been very busy this past month. I hope you were able to go out and see some of them at the local, district or state level. We will try and show you a few of the highlights of the state steer and heifer show held down in Montgomery. Remember, every young person comes out a winner with the many lessons and life skills learned during this year-long project.

The 2008 biggest winner at the Alabama Junior Beef Expo had to be Skye Black of Chambers, the past Alabama Junior Cattleman Association (AJCA) President, as she not only won the Lightweight and the Heavyweight Steer Division but then won Grand Champion Steer honors. Congratulations Skye on a great year! Then Judge Dick Hubman made the selection of Reserve Champion as he slapped the Reserve Heavyweight division winner as the overall Reserve Champion Steer. It belonged to a very excited young man named Faust Jennings of Elmore County (he raised this steer on his own farm). Another young lady, Katelyn Allen of Chambers County, was proud of her accomplishments as she won the Middleweight Steer Division and, the next day, was crowned the Supreme ChampionShowman of the entire show. Brad Baker of Dale County showed the Reserve Champion Lightweight and Katie Kimbrell of Tuscaloosa County had the Reserve Champion Middleweight. Each steer exhibited had the chance to use ultrasound to compete for the top Carcass Competition. Kelly Goneke of Conecuh had the Grand Champion Ultrasound Steer, Austin Shropshire of Chilton showed the Reserve Champion and Carla Weissend of Montgomery, for the second year in a row, had the top IMF or marbling steer awarded by Sysco in honor and memory of the late Steve Craft. Congratulations to these and all of the other youth who were a part of such a big event!

AJCA, with Reid Blossom heading the activities, elected their new directors and officers the same weekend. The new leaders of the young cattlemen’s organi-zationare: Brad Baker (Dale), President; Blake Shropshire (Chilton), Vice President; Reba Hicks (Geneva), Secretary; Marisa Ballard (Tuscaloosa), Treasure; Skye Black (Chambers), Ex-Officio; Directors Amanda Pounds (Montgomery), Tyler Wood (Cullman), Sarah Dickinson (Mobile), Hannah Barton (Jackson) and Amelia Spradley (Pike). Most all of these directors are involved in 4-H back in their home counties. Part of this group then took a trip to St. Louis to be a part of the Youth Beef Industry Congress where youth from all over the country came to learn more about leadership on a national level. Alabama was very well represented with six youth attending.

As those of us who work in 4-H youth development recognize, in many ways it is tougher being a kid today than it’s ever been. Many things we once took for granted – a sense of community, connection to the outdoors, a bond with the agricultural rhythm of the seasons – have been undermined by a fast-paced, media-driven society whose values are often called into question.

There’s even a new dimension to the age-old problem of bullying. Text-messaging and the Internet give bullies new tools for picking on people. And, as recent news items have shown, bullying is not just kids picking on kids; adults sometimes hide behind the anonymity of the Internet and "cyber-bully" kids.

Bullying takes place whenever a person or a group uses physical strength, psychological pressure or social standing to harass another person. Especially in the Internet age, parents, teachers and other adults may not be aware it’s going on and may not understand how intense bullying can become.

Two of the main reasons people are bullied are because of how they look and their social standing. Bullies pick on the people they think don’t fit in, maybe because of how they act (for example, kids who are shy and quiet), their race or religion, or because the bullies think their target may be "sissies."

Bullies often don’t let up, and it can lead to physical and emotional stress, including low self-esteem, depression or anxiety. Bullied people may also think about suicide more.

Bullies are at risk for problems, too. Bullying is violence and it often leads to more violent behavior as the bully grows up. It’s estimated one out of four elementary-school bullies will have a criminal record by the time they are 30. Some teen bullies end up being rejected by their peers and lose friendships as they grow older. Bullies may also fail in school and not have the career or relationship success other people enjoy.

What Can You Do?

Adults in positions of authority — parents, teachers or coaches — can sometimes find ways to resolve dangerous bullying problems without the bully ever learning how they found out about it.

Here are some suggestions that you may share with young people.

· Ignore the bully and walk away. Bullies love to get a reaction. If you walk away or ignore hurtful e-mails or instant messages, you’re telling the bully you just don’t care. Sooner or later the bully will probably get bored with trying to bother you.

· Hold the anger. Bullies want to know they have control over your emotions. If you’re in a situation where you have to deal with a bully and you can’t walk away with poise, use humor — it can throw the bully off guard.

· Don’t get physical. However you choose to deal with a bully, don’t use physical force (like kicking, hitting or pushing). Not only are you showing your anger, but you can never be sure what the bully will do in response. Some adults believe bullying is a part of growing up (even that it is character building) and hitting back is the only way to tackle the problem. But aggressive responses tend to lead to more violence and more bullying.

· Practice confidence. Practice ways to respond to the bully verbally or through your behavior.

· Take charge of your life. You can’t control other people’s actions, but you can stay true to yourself. Exercise is one way to feel strong and powerful. Become part of a group, like 4-H or Scouts, that values safety and belonging.

· Talk about it. It may help to talk to a guidance counselor, teacher or friend — anyone who can give you the support you need.

· Find your (true) friends. Find one or two true friends and confide how the bullying has hurt you. Set the record straight by telling your friends quietly and confidently what’s true and not true about you.

James Shropshire is the Alabama 4-H Regional Extension Agent for the Central Alabama Region. E-mail him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..