April 2007
4-H Extension Corner

Wow, what a great and busy week! Today finds me hurrying to get this letter finished to make the deadline.

Hey, has anybody seen the Beef lately! There was plenty of it the last five days in Montgomery at the Alabama Beef Expo and SLE Rodeo. I will send out photos next month of a few of the highlights.

Every exhibitor there was a winner! They were able to take a young animal and, with a lot of feed and time, be able to participate in this show. I hope the joy was in the journey; remember it is about education, not always winning.

I try to make sure that all the kids that I get to spend time with realize a very important fact when it comes to any show; it is one man’s or lady’s opinion on one day. If you did not do as well as you wanted, don’t get discouraged, learn from this and be more prepared next year. Life is not always perfect and as you become an adult you will see this more often.

If you brought a steer to the show, you have had the chance few people have in life. That is to learn valuable lessons while adding to our food supply chain. If you brought a heifer, hopefully she will go back to your herd and be a productive cow for many years, raising even better projects.

Again, Congratulations to all the exhibitors and Thank You to all of the parents, grandparents and volunteers that give of their time and money to help us lead and direct the next generation of Cattlemen and Cattlewomen.

On a different note! So, What Have You Learned Lately?

Kids Who Learn Follow Adults’ Examples

People in the know often say: "It’s tough being a kid these days." Surely, it’s always been tough. We look back longingly at the "Ozzie and Harriet" years and may not remember that the teen pregnancy rate and family poverty rates were much greater in those golden days. And many of us from rural backgrounds know all about the mind-numbing, backbreaking labor that faced previous generations of farm youth.

But there are special challenges for young people in the 21st century. The world moves far more rapidly and is a far smaller place. Who would have guessed that international names like Mercedes and Hyundai would feature so prominently in our local Alabama economy? Who would have guessed that cell phones, Blackberries and laptops would be such vital parts of our daily routines?

In this world, the love of learning is one of the most important gifts we can give our children. Every mom or dad has those moments when they see themselves reflected in their child. Maybe Johnny wants to play baseball because that’s what Daddy did. Maybe Susie sits around and watches television because that’s what Mom and Dad do. That "monkey see, monkey do" pattern holds true for the example we set in our attitude toward knowledge.

For our kids’ future success, the research shows that it is crucial for adult role models to exhibit their own personal commitment to learning. Kids read more and read better if they see that their parents read. And while "book learning" is more important than it has ever been, there are all sorts of ways we can show our kids how we learn. There is the "hands-on learning" when we pick up a new technical skill like digital photography. There is a natural interest in other cultures that can be tapped through family travel.

Learning can lead you wherever your curiosity focuses: Roman history or cake decoration, ostrich farming or Civil War battlefields. And what about as a family spending one night a week learning Spanish? Can you imagine a better learning environment for kids and adults — or a better skill to carry into our evolving society?

If it’s tough being a kid, it’s equally tough being a parent. By building good communications and helping one another grow, we can evolve into wiser, better human beings, no matter how old or how young we are.

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..