November 2005
4-H Extension Corner

4-H Extension Corner

  The 2005 Alabama 4-H Persuasive Public Speaking Competition was held in Auburn on August 13. The winners are: (left to right) 1st place - Brenna K. Echols, Autauga County; 2nd place - Luke Brymer, Jefferson County and 3rd place - Devin Kennamer, DeKalb County.
Some sixty-five years ago, President Roosevelt outlined Four Freedoms which he stated were fundamental to all humans "everywhere in the world:" freedom of speech and expression; freedom of every person to worship God in his own way; freedom from want; and freedom from fear.

During this time of war and hurricane recovery, we are reminded that we have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. We do have our precious freedoms, and we have many things that we often take for granted, such qualities as life, community, homes, jobs, schools and family.

As a member of the Alabama 4-H staff, I am extremely proud of how Alabama communities and youth have aided our neighbors and friends affected by the hurricanes. Dozens of 4-H clubs and thousands of individual Alabama 4-Hers have pitched in to do their part for disaster relief. We are, however, a long way from full recovery, so please keep the hurricane victims in your thoughts and prayers.
But there is much cause to be cheerful and optimistic. This is a great time of year! I have been visiting county fairs and have had the privilege to judge at State Fairs. It is always very rewarding to experience the enthusiasm of the exhibitors and to see the hard work that families have put into the livestock and other projects.

There is no question that today’s kids are brighter and more goal-oriented than ever before. One day in the near future our food sources will be in their hands, and they will provide the leadership and the skills needed to grow and supply the world with food and fiber. And we are reminded that good, strong 4-H programs – where families and communities partner together with Extension staff – continue to provide Alabama’s young people with the new skills and abilities to lead our state and nation during this exciting new century.

Over the past several months, I have been writing about one of the most important values that we seek to impart in Alabama 4-H: character. A cornerstone of our "4-H: Leading With Character" program is Fairness. Fairness is something that every young person should learn and every honorable adult should demonstrate in their lives and in their dealings with others.

We should never forget the instructions we "learned in kindergarten" and in Sunday School. We should always play by the rules, take turns and share, be open-minded, listen to others, not take advantage of other people, and not carelessly blame others.

Justice, justness, fair treatment, fair play, square deal, fair shake - these are all words or phrases that have similar meanings to fairness. Fairness means being equally good to everyone. Fairness involves being consistent in the application of rules and standards.

We all like to be treated fairly, but do we always treat others fairly? The Golden Rule — Do unto others as you would have others do unto you — is a standard measure of fairness. This is the kind of treatment that a fair and ethical person will display in all areas of their life, including when we are working with their livestock.

During the many months of work that a livestock project takes, there are many different ways to demonstrate fairness. I hope that 4-H kids can recognize which of the following actions demonstrate fairness and which demonstrate unfairness?

 * Accurately recording the dates your animals were born and/or purchased

 * Giving other exhibitors adequate space to properly position their animal in the show ring.

* Doing all the fitting and clipping on your animals yourself, or accepting help with some fitting from your brothers or sisters, but no one else.

* Teasing a new exhibitor whose fitting and clipping job on their animal needs a lot of improvement.

* "Hogging" the wash rack, using it for two hours for one or two animals.

* Saying that Suzie, who you don’t really like, won the Market Steer show simply because she flirted with the judge.

* Gracefully accepting that you have to show your Angus heifer in the Commercial class because you don’t have registration papers.

* Turning in your animal ID forms by the deadline.

* Having someone else feed, water and train your animals throughout the spring and summer, except for the week before the show.

* When you didn’t win showmanship, blaming the judge and saying he/she was unfair without ever asking the judge how you could improve.

You should recognize statements 1, 2, 3, 7, and 8 as fair behavior. Statements 4, 5, 6, 9, and 10 are examples of unfair behavior.

It seems that for any activity in which we participate there are RULES to follow, and 4-H livestock projects are no different. When we don’t follow the rules, we are not playing fair. In order to be fair, the same rules must apply to everyone involved.

Some of the rules that apply to nearly every 4-H show are discussed in the previous examples.

* 4-H members must own their animals by specific dates and must accurately report those dates.

* 4-H members must do their own fitting and clipping of their animals, possibly with some help from family members.

* Specific information, such as registration papers may need to be provided to participate in certain classes.

* 4-H members need to turn in accurate animal ID forms by a specific date.

* And, 4-H members should be responsible for and do their own work with their animals.

If you are an experienced exhibitor, teasing a new exhibitor isn’t fair to them - they haven’t had the time to learn all the things you have learned. Making assumptions about people without checking the facts is unfair to those people.

When you demonstrate fairness in dealing with people and in making decisions, you will earn the respect of other people. There are many important things that both exhibitors and parents can do to demonstrate fairness to other exhibitors. Some of these things are:

* Treat ALL people fairly; regardless of their age, background, or previous successes or failures with their projects;

* Consider all the facts and information, including opposing opinions, before making a decision;

* Make fair decisions by using the same rules for everyone;

* Record animal birth and purchase dates accurately;

* Share time and the use of limited resources; for example, don’t spend more time than necessary on the wash racks, as other people also need to use them;

* Admit your own mistakes and work to correct them;

* Accept that people are different and don’t pass judgment simply based on the fact that someone or something is different;

* Follow guidelines and show consideration of other exhibitors when positioning your animal in the ring;

* Accept winning or losing with grace.

Unfortunately, too often we have seen grown-ups who don’t seem to remember the Golden Rule! What terrible examples one or two bad apples can be for our young people. But if we remember that we really should "do unto others as they do unto you," then fairness will always be a natural part of our lives and the lives of our children.

Until next time, God Bless!

James Shropshire is the Alabama 4-H Regional Extension Agent for the Central Alabama Region.