According to recent findings from Tufts University (Dairy Herd Network, April 2011), young people involved in 4-H are engaging in positive healthy living behaviors more often than youth that do not participate in 4-H, and – regardless of their background, socio-economic status, race and gender – thrive through the health/safety education and experiences they receive through 4-H programming. 4-H Healthy Living programs are conducted by the 109 land-grant universities and the Cooperative Extension System, and seek to address the national issues including nutrition, physical fitness, substance abuse, safety, as well as social and emotional wellness. On a personal note, I (GCS) grew up on a farm, joined 4-H at age 9 and became a member of Future Farmers of America at age 14; I have often said that the men who had the greatest effect on my subsequent personal and professional life were three farmers (my paternal grandfather, my dad and my 4-H leader), my ag (FFA) teacher and my pastor. Among the most important things I learned from them were a love for the land, a love for animals and a belief in God; I suppose that’s why I am so often offended by people who see, or hear about, singular instances of cruelty, mistakes or mismanagement by a farmer or rancher and then proclaim that such behavior is characteristic of all who farm or ranch. Such critics may wake up some morning and wonder where their food will come from because they will have criticized out-of-business those who used to produce it.
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