November 2007
4-H Extension Corner

Photo by Ashley Cunningham
Fifth graders Jessica Atchison, Jeremy Averette, Crystal Bittle and Tyler Brooks from Maplesville School had fun petting this pig in the petting section of the Farm and Home Safety Day.
Hello everyone and thank you for reading this month’s article. It is so hard to believe it is November already. I know if you are a football fan you have had great wins and disappointing losses the past two months. Even if you have been out on the show road with your livestock projects the same has happened. But you know, that is all part of life!

Some days we win and other days we may lose. I think it is very important to always remember it is up to us to make sure that even on the bad days we can find some good thing in the day. We have so many people watching how we react as adult leaders. It is very easy to be up or positive on the good days but it takes effort when the bad days come along (and they will). The effort is worth taking or giving when you stop to remember that your reaction affects all of those around you, especially the ones you love the most. So remember, go out and have a great day, it will be worth it!

Thanksgiving is coming this month and I want you to set a special goal to go out and tell 10 people "Thank You" for something they do that makes your life easier or more enjoyable. Maybe it is the boy sacking the groceries, a policeman who protects your town or maybe even a referee who keeps the game fair on both sides of the ball. This holiday was started as men and women gave "Thanks" for the things they were able to harvest after a hard summer of work and toil. Our food today is harvested very differently but it is as important to our society as it has ever been. We, as a nation, are "Blessed" with great farmers who produce food for the U.S. and many other countries. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and eat from the bounty of our Farmers!!

Home Environment Has Life-Long Impact

As parents, teachers and 4-H leaders, we are always thinking about what we can do to help young people be successful in life. We want our kids to be healthy, happy and wise. We want them to have good relationships, rewarding careers and to be physically and mentally fit.

Much of the current research on adolescence and youth underscores how important adults are in determining young people’s future success. The research shows, when it comes to being role models, "the apple" does fall "close to the tree." The examples we set and the environment we create have lasting impacts on the young people who are close to us.

We always need to be concerned about what kind of role models we are. If our kids see the use of "adult beverages" get out of hand at a tailgating party, it shows them how adults act and what it means to be grown-up. In that context, it’s no wonder the research has found that among typical 4th graders, 10 percent have already had more than a sip of alcohol and 7 percent have had a drink in the past year.

While the numbers are small in the fourth grade, the surveys show the percentage of children who have used alcohol increases with age and doubles between grades four and six. These numbers are alarming because of the connection between early alcohol consumption and later trouble during adolescence and young adulthood. The research also notes that early drinking relates to a variety of other problems, including absences from school, delinquent behavior, drinking and driving, sexual intercourse and pregnancy.

Alcohol isn’t the only adult substance that has a negative impact on kids. Another study notes that secondhand smoke increases high school test failures. The study by Temple University found the exposure to secondhand smoke at home decreased the odds of passing standardized achievement tests by 30 percent in 16 and 18-year-olds.

We can talk about all the negatives, but there are also a thousand positive examples parents and concerned adults provide. Parents who live in caring, committed relationships have children who live in caring, committed relationships. Parents and other role models who are kind and generous lead to children being kind and generous. Parents who love learning have children who love learning.

Certainly, there are challenges kids face in our increasingly-complex and rapidly-changing world. But by having a good foundation at home and in the community, young people are ready for whatever the future may bring.

The photo with this article was taken at a Farm and Home Safety Day. This is where 4th thru 6th grades were given the chance to learn more about "SAFETY" around the house and out at the farm. Remember Safety is up to Me!

Until next time, God Bless!

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