September 2007
4-H Extension Corner

  Morgan County 4-H Livestock Team: (l-r) Brett Crow, coach; Jose Garner; Hunter Garnett; Matt Walker and Josh Melson.
Welcome back to 4-H! If you are an adult and have wondered what you could do during the summer to help others, take a look at volunteer work with 4-H. July was packed with 4-H events. To get an idea of what you would be interested in helping with, go to The winners at the State 4-H Horse Show, which was held in Auburn on Friday, July 20, should also be posted.

State 4-H Livestock Contest: Morgan County 4-H Livestock Team took first place. They set a state record by taking first place in every division, including Swine, Sheep, Beef Cattle and Reasons. All four members of the team placed in the top ten individual scores, with Danville senior, Josh Melson, taking Individual High Score. The team is coached by former Danville student and 4-Her Brett Crow. Brett is a graduate student at Kansas State University and nationally ranked at the collegiate level in livestock judging.

National 4-H Competitions for Shooting Sports, Forestry, and Wildlife met with great success. We are extremely proud of the 4-Hers, coaches and the volunteer leaders who worked with them to achieve their successes. 4-Hers from the following counties competed in National 4-H Competitions:

State 4-H Meats Contest was won by Houston County: (l-r) Willie Durr, coach, County Extension Coordinator, Houston County; Reba Hicks; Kara Clark; Brad Baker and Kara Whatley.  
• Shelby County, 4-H Shooting Sports Invitational in Rapid City, South Dakota - Coach Dan Ward and Volunteer Roy Smith reported a 3rd place win in Air Rifle. The team members are Eric Bears, Roy Smith, Caroline Ward and Rachel Ward.

• Tallapoosa County, 4-H Forestry Invitational in Weston, West Virginia - Coach Tommy Futral reported they placed 6th out of 15 teams. The team members are Lydia East, Casey Howard and Kasey Duffie.

• Coosa County 4-H Wildlife Team represented Alabama at the National 4-H Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Invitational in Cedar City, Utah on July 25-29, 2007. They returned home as National Champions. Nineteen states were represented. Anna Vines was the Overall High Scoring Individual, Elijah Phillips placed fourth and Samuel Cordner came in 9th. The fourth member, Treavor Abrams, did well but placed out of the top ten. The team was coached by County Extension Coordinator, Roger Vines and chaperoned by Kristy Abrams.

"The competition was very challenging. Our team members had to study really hard to learn an entirely new habitat that is so different from Alabama. The competition site was a land dominated by high desert sagebrush and Rocky Mountains. The Utah and Texas teams which placed second and third (respectively) had the advantage of being on familiar ground, so that made me especially proud of our team members to still come out on top," stated Vines.

  Coosa County 4-H Wildlife Team represented Alabama at the National 4-H Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Invitational in Cedar City, Utah on July 25-29, 2007. They returned home as National Champions. Team members are (from left) Roger Vines, coach, County Extension Coordinator; Treavor Abrams; Anna Vines; Samuel Cordner and Elijah Phillips.
The teams competed in several different events, including aerial photo interpretation, wildlife foods, wildlife habitat management practices, a written rural wildlife plan and a written urban wildlife plan. As always, the scores were very close but Alabama won with a 10 point margin over the second place team.

There were also many educational opportunities along the way. The team visited the Grand Canyon National Park, Meteor Crater National Monument, the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest and Mammoth Cave. They also visited Hoover Dam and Indian Cliff Dwellings in Walnut Canyon National Park. In addition, they made new friends from all across the country and learned about the plants and animals of the American West. But just as important, they learned about commitment to a goal, the value of hard work and how to support their team mates. The 4-Hers also learned to appreciate the support of their community, since over $2,000 was raised locally to support them on their trip. One team member plans to apply to Auburn University and pursue a degree in wildlife biology and the 4-H Wildlife Program is a great place to start.

Although we often talk about how important 4-H is for young people, it’s good to remember that the Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s expertise on youth development is also important to families and communities. In 4-H we work with some of the "best and brightest" youth specialists at Auburn and Alabama A&M who always remind us what we need to do, as parents and youth professionals, to raise happy and healthy kids.

Take rule-setting for example. The research shows that firm rules don’t alienate kids. They may grouse about them, but they know your rules are in place because you love them and care about them. Carefully-selected and clearly-communicated rules protect kids when their inexperience and lack of awareness might lead them into dangerous and difficult situations.

Setting up and enforcing rules is one of the biggest challenges for parents. Face it, adolescents are going to gripe about rules. It’s not a reflection on you or your child - it’s just part of what it means to be a kid. Challenging rules and pushing the envelope helps them learn to make their own decisions and develop their own voice.

Who of us hasn’t overreacted a little when rules get broken? It’s the calm, measured response that allows us to be more effective in setting and enforcing rules. And the reprimand should match the infraction. Most things kids do are not that earth-shattering. Put yourself in your child’s shoes. Take a big, deep breath. If you had violated curfew or had looked at an inappropriate web site, which would have the greater long-term impact: a parental explosion or a thoughtful conversation about actions and consequences?

Loud noises and empty threats don’t lead kids "down the straight and narrow." Angry, reactive responses to rule violations often fuel the fire rather than calm it. If you are disappointed house rules have been broken, the way in which you express your disappointment can have a powerful and positive impact on your child.

As a parent - or as a teacher or adult 4-H leader - you can have a wonderful effect on young lives. Encourage kids to become involved with 4-H, sports or other youth organizations. Allow them to learn to make their own decisions and build their awareness of themselves and others. Give them a chance to participate in setting their own rules and let them have a voice in deciding the rewards or consequences of following the rules. They may surprise you at their strong sense of ethics and the strong independence that you have helped them develop.

Go to the state web site at for more info on becoming more involved with Alabama youth!

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..