September 2008
4-H Extension Corner

4-H Extension Corner

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  At the 2008 State Livestock Judging, Houston County 4-H Livestock Judging Team won State Championship. Team members are (from left) Ryan Clark, Patrick Andress, Kara Clark, Robins Carothers and Brad Baker.

By James Shropshire

What a month! Three individuals went to the Southern Regional 4-H Horse Show Championships which was hosted by Virginia 4-H and held in Lexington, VA, July 30 to August 3, 2008, took the GOLD! The winners were Stock-Type Mares: Shane Glover, Madison Co.; Dressage: Taylor Tanaka, Montgomery Co.; Pony Working Hunter: Mikaela McCoy, Fayette Co. And coming in second with much competition was Individual Presentation: Lindsey Merrill, Jefferson Co.

The State Championship went to Houston County 4-H Livestock Judging Team at the 2008 State Livestock Judging event in Auburn. After months of dedicated training, the team placed 1st in Swine, 1st in Sheep, 2nd in Reasons and Questions, 1st in High Team Overall and earned the right to represent Alabama 4-H at the National 4-H Livestock Judging competition in November. The national event is held in conjunction with the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, KY, each year for college and 4-H teams.

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State 4-H Forestry and National Forestry Invitational winners were Clay Co. 4-H team. (From left) Coach N.W. McCollum, Steve Franklin, Robert Franklin, Will Denson, Adam Franklin and Coach Marie Gasser.  
Houston County members are Patrick Andress and Robins Carothers of Rehobeth, Kara Clark and Ryan Clark of Wicksburg and Brad Baker of Ariton. The team was coached by 4-H volunteer Jerry Mullins of Cargill, Inc., while Extension Agent Sheila Andreasen coordinated practice schedules and travel for the group.

The state competition required evaluation of eight classes of livestock including cattle, swine and sheep. The team used their ability to judge based on visual appraisal and performance data to place livestock in each class. In addition, each 4-Her answered questions and gave four sets of oral reasons to defend their placing.

A group and I just attended the Iowa State Fair and I am happy to report kids and parent are still bonding thru livestock and showing. This show was a huge 4-H and FFA success, but the big difference between them and us is the history of volunteer help. One man said he started working the Iowa State Fair in 1954 (that is a long time for even us older people). I think all of us want the same thing: youth growth and understanding with livestock being the vehicle. So as we approach the fall shows and fairs, REMEMBER it is about the "KIDS" not the winning!

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  Shelby Co. were the State 4-H Wildlife winners and also placed 4th at the National Wildlife Contest in Stillwater, Oklahoma. (From left) Coach Vivian Garrett, Dalta Garrett, Carrie Beth Littleton, Andrew Bell, Jacob Harris and Coach Bill Garrett.

During the last decade of the previous century, the expression "quality time" became quite common. It indicated the importance of spending concentrated, uninterrupted time with friends, spouses, or, most commonly, with children. Faced with the pressures of hectic, modern schedules, it was suggested the quality of the time together might make up for the brevity of the time we spend with the people we love.

In this century, it is certainly no easier to spend the long, happy hours doing things families and friends are supposed to do together. Considering the economic challenges more Alabama families face, time together is being squeezed more than ever and it is easy for spouses and children to feel either guilt or resentment. Even the historic "lazy, hazy days of summer" have gotten to be a rush from one responsibility to the next.

In 4-H, we recognize the special need all children have for caring, committed adults in their lives. When Mom may be working two jobs or Dad may be stationed in Iraq or vice versa, those ideals often suffer. Fortunately, however, more people have come to learn the "caring, committed adults" are not only parents; they are also the teachers, club leaders and coaches our kids come in contact with.

When your son goes hunting with your next door neighbor or when your daughter spends an afternoon working with non-family adults at the library or the community food bank, those adults provide an important perspective that will be valuable to your child. And who of us did not benefit from the experience of our first youthful jobs, working on a construction crew for Mr. Jones or working as a cashier for Mrs. Smith? It is through those conversations and interactions with adults that young people learn what it means to be a grown-up.

As much as we would like to think of the roles of parents as being set in stone, families and communities continue to change and evolve. We aren’t the same as our parents, any more than the parents of the 1950s were the same those of the 1930s. As we separate what is most important in modern families, there are some things we can always strive to do for young people, whether we are their parents or not.

• Young people need adults who will fully listen to them. Many times they are exploring ideas about their places in the world and they just need someone to talk to. That listening is far more important than the lectures and the "when I was a boy..." stories we adults love to give.

• Young people need adults as role models. If they know adults who are ethical and demonstrate good, positive values, chances are they will develop those values as well. And it’s not just spiritual values; it should also be valuing education or healthy living.

• Young people need adults who value their opinions and ideas. Children learn to make decisions by making decisions. Also, kids know a lot. If you won’t listen when your child tells you how to use the computer or program the cell phone, you may be missing some real expertise!

• Young people need adults who ask them questions. It not only helps them verbalize their thoughts and feelings, it builds their curiosity. Why do you think the sky is blue? Where would you like to go to college? What would the world be like if there were no bugs? What will the world be like when you are grown-up?

There are so many more things adults can do for children: show them the world; listen to their hopes and fears; read to them; teach them to fly a kite or make a quilt, etc. Whether we adults are parents, Sunday school teachers or 4-H volunteers, we also grow by sharing.

Until next time, God Bless!

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.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..