Letter to the Editor

Letters to the editor

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Disdain for local 4-H

Dear Editor:

Supporting and encouraging our youth in learning leadership, citizenship, and life skills is suppose to be the premise of the 4-H program in Vernon County. This does not appear to be the case, at least with the Clayton 4-H group.

My son has been a member of Clayton 4-H since he was 8 years old (completing 5 years as an active member). He has participated every year in this group in a variety of ways -- participation in the different club projects and activities along with showing rabbits, goats, and many other projects. My family has participated in Clayton 4-H for the past 17 years and I have also held leadership positions as project leader for rabbits, goats, chickens, and many other projects. I have been a Clover Kid leader and leader for Clayton 4-H during this time. I have also been a leader for different Fair committees during this time.

My questioning of this club's actual mission stems from the fact that the Clayton 4-H leader has refused to sign my son's Youth Fair entry form. She has stated this is due to my son missing too many meetings in the past year. One meeting in question occurred due to the fact that we were out of town -- on our way to New Mexico -- for a grandparent's funeral. This leader has stated that I should have called to explain why he wouldn't be at the meeting. Realistically, packing and traveling to New Mexico, as quickly as we could was about the only thing on my mind -- not calling about a meeting! I cannot understand how a death in the family is not an excused absence from a 4-H meeting. I have even appealed to the 4-H director (who took it to the board) and they agreed with the leader that he did not attend enough meetings. They also missed out on the opportunity to set a positive precedence for other 4-H groups in creating rules and guidelines in relation to family loss and meeting attendance. So, now I have to explain to my son that, through no fault of his own, he cannot participate in the Vernon County Youth Fair in July. All of his work with his projects has been for nothing based on the mindset that the loss of a loved one is not a good enough reason to miss a meeting without remembering to make a phone call.

After much thought, and consideration regarding this type of treatment, my family has decided to not continue to be a part of the 4-H youth organization after 17 active years of membership. We will look to join a different youth group -- one that truly supports the youth of Vernon County.

Ruth Kimmell,

Vernon County