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Monday, February 20, 2017

Action Please Take Two

Those of you who have followed me for a long time know that my blogging has slowly declined over the years.  I mean I went from posting a recipe every single week to not posting anything other than Flat Aggie for the last six months.  Three years ago, two young ladies asked me to take #ActionPlease and coach their 4-H Livestock Skillathon Team.  This sounded like fun, challenging and best of all my oldest son LOVES this contest, so of course I said yes.  Somehow in saying yes, I also agreed to coaching the Livestock Quiz Bowl team for our extension district as well.

The first year I coached them the Skillathon team placed second at state.  And then the first place team decided not to go to the National contest, so the rest of that fall was spent trying to figure out what they had gotten me into and how to prepare them.  This took a serious amount of time for someone who already had a full time job and was only doing this as a volunteer.  They taught me a lot about being a coach, teacher and mentor.

The past fall, a team took me to the National 4-H Livestock Quiz Bowl competition.  We didn't have as much time to prepare, but the month we did, I was consumed with all things quiz bowl to the point I was told my other half didn't want to hear another word about it after the contest.  This group did extremely well as they ended the competition as National Reserve Champions.

So what does this have to do with my previous post?

These kids are much like my kid's 4-H club.  They don't back down from a challenge.

This group is extremely smart.
They are extremely driven.
They are excellent speakers.
They not only want to learn about livestock, but all things agriculture.
Less than 20% of the members involved with livestock skillathon and quiz bowl over the last three years have come from a full time farm and ranch.  They love agriculture, but they don't get to live it.
They are future consumers who know that food doesn't just come from a grocery store.

I have been working with them to become better agvocates along the way...sometimes directly, but more often indirectly.  Half the kids are teens who are already online and active on different social media channels.  From time to time, we have discussions about things they see that they know aren't true.  Sometimes, I send private messages to encourage them to take a second look at their reactions and they are getting much better.

We discuss HSUS.
They can know the difference between animal welfare and animal rights.
We discuss GMO's.
We have even discussed corn pollination. (Thanks to a team member with a 32 oz Coca-Cola habit and an eight ounce bladder and a six hour road trip.)  ;)
They are sometimes amazed and frustrated with how much math farmers do and that I can do it while they struggle.
They love science and try to challenge my knowledge all the time.

I would not be afraid to take any of them with me to speak about livestock production.  They know the ins and outs even though they only get to raise a handful of animals each year themselves.  They inspire me to Take Action more often.  They often push me to look at things they find online and help them to respond in a mature way.

Once again, are we missing the boat with these agvocates?  They are more social media savvy than my farmer for sure.  They care about an industry that they hope to be a part of some day.
Farmers and Ranchers I challenge you to Take Action Please!  If you aren't interested in sharing your farm story with the public, share it with your local 4-H and FFA members.  They can help us in an ever electronically based conversation.  They take the time to be online whether they have the time or not.  They are inspired by the generations that came before them and many want to get back to the farm like their grandparents before them.

Want to know more of why I love these kids?  I had almost forgotten about this letter I wrote to them a few years back and it still rings true with this group.  A Letter to My 4-H Kids

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