Today I received notice about an editorial piece that showed up in the Chicago Tribune titled "4-H: Cruel to Animals and Kids" by Jennifer O'Connor. This is a horribly slanted op-ed piece and it should be pointed out that Ms. O'Connor is an employee for PETA. It detailed Ms. O'Connor's daughter's experience in the 4-H dairy project. Ms. O'Connor expressed dismay and shock that the cow used for her daughter's project was eventually harvested for meat. She went as far as to say it made her daughter turn away from meat forever.
I shared this story with my children (who are both in 4-H) and they immediately had the same response. We raise cows for beef, they are not pets. My kids understand the order of life, some animals were put on this earth to serve as food. That does not mean they will not take the absolute best care of them that we can while they are in our control, but they understand the eventual reason we have cattle.
It is unfortunate that the writer's daughter had a bad experience but that in part is due to poor communications on her part as a parent. Before their projects ever started we discussed the cycle of production with the kids and throughout the project we reinforced this. In short, there were no surprises, they were prepared.
Make no mistake that Ms. O'Connor was not your average 4-H parent but an employee of the radical anti-animal agriculture group PETA. This group is known for their outrageous stunts to draw attention to themselves. If you are a 4-H supporter you need to go to the Chicago Tribune and write a response to this terrible editorial. We must stand up for 4-H and the educational opportunities it provides. Please, take the time to let your opinion be known, PETA sees a lack of response as an endorsement of their position.