If you recall, we put out a plea for help to save 4-H a few years ago. The response from people offering to help save 4-H programs across this great country of ours has been overwhelming.

The objective has not only been to raise enough money to keep our 4-H programs alive and well, but to philosophically and politically upgrade 4-H to a higher level of importance. From the county to the national scene there has to be a newfound recognition of the importance of 4-H. Both congress and county supervisors have to recognize that 4-H is about building character and leadership. The purpose of the projects is to teach skills, but understanding the value of relationships and how to maintain them is far greater than that of finishing a steer or baking a cake.

Would this country be in the financial mess that it’s in if our current leaders were as astute as our founding fathers? The government way back in the late l800’s saw fit to create 4-H, realizing that this country would be built on the backs of its youth. The only thing that has changed in all those years is our deviation from our roots. Greed and a self-serving bureaucracy that can’t see beyond “me first” have watered down those solid Christian values.

While filling their own pockets and laughing all the way to the bank, the government threw us enough crumbs to make us believe that our multi-tiered homes with a car in every stall were the result of their actions. Now we are paying the price for their immoral ways, and suffering the consequences.  Should 4-H have to suffer at the expense of these lying, cheating thieves that couldn’t run their businesses?

Giving bailouts to failed companies that, in turn, reward incompetence with multi-million dollar bonuses is like giving trophies and purple ribbons to he/she who stands at the bottom of the class. How can we justify such financial waste —while, at the same time, saying there isn’t enough money to support 4-H?

Rewarding failure, while penalizing success makes little or no sense to me! What kind of a role model have we become for our kids? The younger generation is going to have to pay for our mistakes, but let’s not compound the situation by removing the one model in our life that has stood the test of time and produced a platform of stability and leadership. 4-H is the one constant from which many of us draw strength and measure competitive standards in life.

The standard bearer of 4-H is that of teaching kids to be good stewards of their life and the lives of those they affect. Life isn’t just about doing for yourself; it is equally that of doing for others. The more you give, the more you get back in return!

4-H instills these values in a way that leaves a lifetime impression. Do we want to see our kids cheated out of this, one of the life ’s finest opportunities, to develop character and responsibility?

When you cheat, you cheat those closest and most dependent upon you. Is there anyone closer to you than your kids? Can the cheaters in Washington do this with good conscious? Are their priorities so eroded that they no longer recognize those principals that made this country great?

4-H is more than a match for this crazy world. 4-H not only has what it takes to excel at most anything but to adapt when change comes along. 4-H has an adventurous spirit and a sense of assurance that comes from having overcome challenges before. However, are we up to this challenge, or do we stand back with our hands in our pocket?

4-H has taught the skills to self-sustain and overcome the obstacles that life throw our way. It has shown us strength in the weakest of times and a determination that is unmatched. Isn’t this what dreams are made of? Isn’t this why we should step up to the plate and fight for what’s right?

I’ve noted, with interest, that there are some counties that have taken the initiative of increasing sales tax. One county, in particular, is considering adding an extra half-cent to the sales tax to make up for lost state aid and add another revenue stream. This would more than adequately cover the cost of servicing 4-H.

When considering cuts in local government aid of more than $100 million per average county, the threat of discontinuing 4-H is understandable. My point of contention is: Should it be 4-H that goes, or is there a need for a review board to oversee such activities?

I’m not for raising taxes, but it is one option to put on the table for consideration. Perhaps there are several programs that should be eliminated long before 4-H. It only takes 300 signatures to initiate a countywide referendum, so maybe that’s the place to start in your county. You still have a voice and more power than a handful of county commissioners!

Our current economic disaster represents such a contradiction of values. Food and shelter are in such desperate peril, putting businesses, families, and relationships at risk. Contrast this with kids playing sports for multi-million dollar salaries. Is this the message we want to send our children?

Kids being paid obscene amounts of money to play a game that they would otherwise play for nothing is disrespectful to those who just want to play a role in a life of responsibility, accomplishment, and accountability. We need a reality check — not a check of disproportionate value!

We have money enough to support athletic franchise pay rolls more than a $100 million, and yet, we can’t see the rationale and wisdom of supporting our 4-H programs. Until these issues get resolved this country is doomed to fail. Just as sports should stand alone, without public subsidy, 4-H should lead the way in corroborating a coexistence with society.

The merits of the building blocks of 4-H should be more sustainable than that of a game of chance. Consider the components of 4-H:

HEAD — HEART — HANDS — HEALTH

I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living — for my club, my community, my country, and my world.

Talent, persistence, and ability enter the equation of success for any kid; be it that of sports or lifetime achievement of 4-H. Both 4-H and sports have carved a niche in the lives of our children. Both play a major role in the development of their future. But to disproportionately support one at the expense of the other seems a little disingenuous.

Over-achievers will always be compensated monetarily or honorably, but may the playing field be made equal. It is an honor to win a championship — an honor that can’t be taken away with any amount of money, so put the weight of your support in the area of greatest value!

This is a personal plea for your support: 4-H needs your help.

Helping 4H with the Clover Campaign

Each Spring and Fall, Tractor Supply will help raise money for 4-H programs with the Paper Clover Campaign, a national in-store fundraiser that benefits 4-H programming. Encourage your clubs, county agents and volunteers to participate at their local Tractor Supply Co. store during Paper Clover.

Not only will this help donations and improve their relationship with their local store, they will also have the opportunity to enter the Paper Clover Participation Sweepstakes, where 75 clubs will win a $100 TSC gift card. Participation can be anything from setting up a display table and project boards inside the store to having clubs encourage customers to donate.