January 2008
4-H Extension Corner

4-H Extension Corner

  4-H members who attended the National 4-H Congress 2007 were (from left) Keegan Sullivan, Brittany Vinson, Kara Whatley, Matthew Gates, Kara Clark, Kelsey Rogers, Brandon Jeter, Amanda Ellenburg, Mariah Logan and Chelsea Teel.
By James Shropshire

HAPPY NEW YEAR!! I hope you plan to make 2008 Really Great!

I am not one to make New Year Resolutions, but I know many do. Remember to eat right and exercise to stay healthy and feeling well. Make the most of every day (there are 1,440 minutes or 86,400 seconds in each day) we are given to make our world a better place. Always remember to laugh, love and lead others in the right path. On bad days I know this is hard, but know others (a lot of children) are watching how we react to problems or "Opportunities" as I like to call them. Do I always do the right thing – far from it! But I do try to think before I react and know words or actions cannot be taken back. Sometimes a lack of action is better than a quick response.

I want to thank the Alabama Cattlemen for the chance to go to the Hoosier Beef Congress in Indianapolis last month. A group of four went with the plan of looking at the mechanics of the process and how to deal with a large show. (1,400 entries to be exact!) It was huge and ran in a very regimented order.

The kids and parents knew it was their job to get the entries in on time, pay their monies and, if going into a breed class, to tattoo and register the calves. Also, if they were not at the gate when a class entered the ring, they were late and could not show.

I think the show personnel did a good job of keeping the classes flowing, especially with three rings full on both Saturday and Sunday.

The cost was $75 per entry. Showmanship and other things were extra including a late fee of $150 per entry. Each exhibitor also had to be a member of the Indiana Cattlemen which was $45.

I mentioned all of this to show how blessed our exhibitors are in Alabama with fees. It’s also important to say if we want to expand, we can IF we get the new facilities being talked about at the Montgomery Fair Grounds. Please, let the elected officials from your area know how much we need improvements to this facility and make sure they know we are willing to support and back them up on this big task!

I want to thank Chuck Hill for helping me with input for this article. Here is some food for thought!

During the holidays, many of us went on trips. We may have simply journeyed "over the river and through the woods" to grandma’s house or we may have hopped a plane for some distant and exotic locale. No matter the trip, we had a pretty good idea of where we were going and how we were going to get there. Even with gas prices being what they are, we had a pretty good sense of how much it would cost and whether we would plop down on an air mattress or stay in a five-star hotel.

It’s funny how many of us put more planning into a few days of vacation than we put into how we spend our lives. Whether you are a child dreaming of life as an adult or an adult looking toward your golden years of retirement, setting goals gives weight and substance to your abstract dreams.

Probably the goals we consider most often are our financial and career goals. Many of us from rural areas once had limited career models. We primarily saw people who were farmers, school teachers and shop owners. The kids we work with in 4-H today will have careers we can’t even imagine, careers built on a global economy with technological advances affecting every aspect of work and leisure. Nonetheless, if (and only if) Alabama’s young people, our families and communities are visionary and fully committed to education, they will still be able to compete against anybody in the world.

But planning extends to other aspects of life. We can set spiritual and ethical goals. If more people set a goal of treating people like they wanted to be treated, the world could be a much better place. Or we could set a goal of helping others or spending more time thinking about faith and our places in the universe.

We can set goals related to our families. Good families, good marriages and good family-child relations don’t magically happen. People build relationships through kindness, love, forgiveness, and deep and caring commitment. There are few goals more worthy than these virtues.

We can set goals about personal growth. We always have vague ideas about getting smarter, healthier or less stressed out. But we can translate them into substantial goals: "I’ll read a book a month;" "I’ll walk four days a week;" or "I’ll turn off my cell phone, my Blackberry and my computer at 8 o’clock every night." Or we might easily rephrase it as: "I won’t waste as much time on things that don’t really matter."

As a 4-H professional, I would encourage you to think about setting a goal of helping young people. You don’t have to be a source of great wisdom. You don’t have to study adolescent development or juvenile psychology. Just talk with them – not at them. Listen to them as they try to express their dreams, hopes and aspirations. You might be surprised by how much you both grow from the experience.

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..

Houston County 4-H Meats Team Represents Alabama at the 2007 National 4-H Meats Judging in Kansas

  (From left) Extension 4-H Agent Sheila Andreasen, Brad Baker, Kara Whatley, Kara Clark, Reba Hicks and County Extension Coordinator/Coach Willie Durr.
Houston County 4-H proudly represented Alabama in the 2007 National Meats Judging event recently in Manhattan, Kansas. Houston County team members were: Kara Clark, a senior at Wicksburg and daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Scott Clark; Reba Hicks, a senior at Rehobeth and daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Adolph Hicks; Kara Whatley, a freshman at Auburn and daughter of Kristie Whatley; and Brad Baker, a junior at Ariton High and son of Mr. and Mrs. Kenny Baker. County Extension Coordinator and Coach Willie Durr and Extension Agent Sheila Andreasen accompanied the team.

Houston County members competed at the National Western Meats Judging event in Denver in January and came home to win the 2007 State Champion title in July and the right to represent Alabama in the national contest. The 4-H Meats Judging program includes three divisions: 1) placing retail and wholesale cuts of beef, pork or lamb and evaluating pork or beef carcasses; 2) three sets of oral reasons on placing the classes and 3) identification of 30 retail beef, pork and lamb cuts - including the wholesale cut, retail name and cookery method.

The contest was held at Kansas State University meats lab on Wednesday with an awards breakfast on Thursday at the American Royal livestock show grounds in Kansas City. Teams from sixteen states attended this top level competition. Alabama placed 9th in Beef and Oral Reasons and 11th in Pork and Retail ID, finishing 10th Overall in the nation.

Following the awards program students took time out to visit the American Royal, tour the cattle barns, watch the youth swine exhibitors, Limousin and Shorthorn Cattle Shows and attend the trade show.