4-H has more to offer than animal programs

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 29, 2016

By Matthew McClellan

Rowan 4-H Agent

With the Rowan County Fair upon us, I thought it appropriate to write about some of the traditional 4-H programs and how someone may participate in these programs.

As I have written before, when most people think of 4-H, visions of sewing, cooking, raising and showing animals and horses are the things that typically come to mind.

Many people think that 4-H is a program that doesn’t exist anymore or is only for “farm” kids. Well, I’m here to tell you that not only does 4-H still exist and is not just for “farm” kids, but even non- farm kids can take part in the traditional 4-H programs areas of livestock and equine sciences without an animal.

In the livestock project area, there are contests and trips to be won by 4-H members with no animal required. Livestock judging, meat science, poultry judging and quiz bowl are all areas where youth can participate in the livestock program without an animal.

My colleague Morgan Watts has been working with some of the local FFA chapters and their livestock judging teams. We would love to field a 4-H team in regional and state competitions in the coming year.

In the equine science project area, the same contests of horse judging, quiz bowl, hippology and horse demonstrations are all avenues for non-horse owners to compete in the equine science project area.

Rowan County 4-H has a long history of competing and winning these equine contests, including this past summer at the N.C. State 4-H Horse Show and the Southern Regional Horse Show in Perry, Ga. Rowan County 4-H members Erin Christner and Micah Furr, who placed second and sixth high individual in horse bowl at the Perry contests, are the latest local members to compete well at regionals. These two young ladies will participate in the national contest later this fall.

If your child is not competition-driven but loves the idea of learning about horses, I have outlets and clubs to direct you to, as well. The Rowan County 4-H program has opportunities and clubs that are anxious to accept members who do not have horses of their own.

The take home message I want to convey to you is don’t let ownership or lack thereof of an animal determine your paradigm about 4-H membership. I can find a place for your child who may not own an animal but wants to learn about them.

If you would like to discuss some of the opportunities, animal or not, that 4-H can provide your child with, please give me a call at the Rowan County Extension Office at 704-216-8970 or by e-mail matthew_mcclellan@ncsu.edu or find me at the Rowan County Fair. I’ll be in the livestock show arena during most of the shows.