For the past couple of months, our economy has been slowing down. However, the voices of animal activists have been speeding up, pushing to eliminate the agricultural lifestyle.
A recent example is an attack on organizations like 4-H and FFA, with individuals saying, “these are youth programs where children and teenagers raise animals and then auction them off for slaughter at summer fairs.” They also say that the only purpose of these organizations is to teach kids that “killing is okay, as long as it achieves an end result.” However, this statement is far from the truth.
Throughout my time in FFA, I worked a little with animals, but most of my time in the organization was focused on developing leadership and professional skills. I gained valuable skills like public speaking and time management. As my local chapter’s president, I collaborated with members, chapter alumni, our school board, and community in an effort to lead our chapter towards progress.
Another way to be involved is by doing service projects for your community. My chapter has helped our community by cleaning up trash along the highway, participating in Meal from the Heartland, and helping clean up after natural disasters. It is through these acts that us members strive to live up to the FFA motto: Learning to do, doing to learn, and living to serve. FFA and 4-H members live to serve their communities by applying the skills they have learned.
We also compete in many CDE’s, or career development events on a local, district, state, and national level. It has been at these leadership conferences where members have created many memories as well as long-lasting friendships.
When members participate in fairs, they do not necessarily have to show animals. They can do anything from photography to horticulture, or arts and crafts to tractor restoration. For those who do show animals, they are not participating to learn how to kill animals. Through showing, they gain leadership skills, time-management skills, and public speaking skills, all while gaining more knowledge of the animal industry. Yes, some animals do go to auction when they are done being shown. However, some members retain their show animals to keep and/or continue to show.
It has become a norm for those who have never been a part of these organizations that are the first to judge them. I encourage those who have questions about these programs to reach out to an FFA advisor or a local county extension agent. I know they would be happy to answer any questions you may have. Before you label FFA and 4-H as organizations that teach kids to kill, take the time to find out what skills members take with them to apply to their future