UPDATE (April 5 at 9:36 p.m.) After countless emails, phone calls and even a statement from National 4-H Headquarters, I figured I better update this blog post once again. I had many 4-H members in attendance report that they had no clue HSUS was the speaker at the event. However, I received a message from HSUS saying they did, indeed, introduce themselves as HSUS during the workshop. This would connect the dots that 4-H was not mistaken, as I had previously hoped, in hiring HSUS to be a part of their conference. And, 4-H would also concur with that statement, and they sent out a press release saying the workshop presented by HSUS aligned perfectly with the intent of their national conference. This tragically disappointing press release has left 4-H fans like myself and many others in a total predicament about what to do.
I'm firm in my belief that we always need to stay positive, and I never want our efforts to be perceived as "big ag," so I have decided that my sponsorship, support and future donations will be directed at my county and state 4-H organizations, and will specifically be directed towards programs that I have been involved in in the past. Also, NCBA released a statement yesterday pretty much saying the same thing. They want all of us to focus on delivering the positive news about beef, instead of wasting time and energy fighting over something that already happened.
So, 4-H...even though you weren't exactly apologetic, and this recent even earned you a white ribbon in my book (not a purple), I will continue to support my local 4-H programs, and I will always be a proud member of this organization. To the leadership of the National 4-H, I hope you heard the message agriculture sent you loud and clear: teaming up with HSUS is poor judgement and bad taste. They are committed to putting us out of business; please, don't do this to us again. Respectfully, Amanda
UPDATE (April 2 at 9:12 a.m.) 4-H recently released a statement about the events that happened at their conference. It certainly wasn't an apology; however, let's hope this is the last time 4-H ever teams up with the likes of H$U$. Check out their statement here. And, while I'm very disappointed in 4-H and the direction they took with this conference, let's be sure to continue to support 4-H on a state and local level. It's too good of a program to fall apart; I just wish the national headquarters would have been more apologetic instead of defensive. Lesson learned, 4-H. -Amanda
UPDATE (April 1 at 10:24 p.m.) I received a phone call today from Peter Nielson, Assistant Director and 4-H/Youth Development for the South Dakota Cooperative Extension Service, and he gave me some insights from the leadership with the 4-H organization. Nielson and three delegates attended the conference last week, and he reported that the students that sat in on the workshop given by an HSUS representative were never made aware that HSUS was even the organization putting on that particular workshop. So, while students were innocently learning about the political process, starting and organization and becoming an advocate, HSUS was able to sneak propaganda into the hands of agriculture youth. Very slick, HSUS, very slick. Nielson also told me that the only way for the kids to know HSUS was the featured organization was if a student had searched the speaker and found out where she worked and what she did for a living. This information helped to alleviate some of my anxieties that 4-H had fallen into the wrong crowd, if you know what I mean.
I want to make sure it's very clear that my blog post earlier this morning was, by no means, a "grab your torch and pitchfork" effort to defame the National 4-H Organization. By reading some of your comments and messages, it's quite apparent that many of you aren't giving 4-H the benefit of the doubt like I am. As Nielson told me today, he believes 4-H made an innocent slip when teaming up with HSUS for their conference, and 4-H plans to come out with a statement saying as much soon. I'm highly anticipating that press release, and I know we will all be relieved to know that 4-H was mistaken in adding HSUS to the agenda.
This organization is truly a great outlet for kids to learn and grow as a community, and I was upset to hear about this workshop at the conference. However, I was also concerned about some of the disrespectful comments I saw online today about 4-H. While it's important to educate, communicate and spread the word, we also need to remember to always remain positive, respectful and friendly in our dealings. So, as we continue in our pursuit to expose HSUS and educate consumers about where food comes from, let's not forget to act in a professional, pleasant manner. It really is the best way to communicate our ideas and represent the people we truly are. Thanks for all your support and efforts to spread the word. I greatly appreciate it. -Amanda
As a kid, 4-H consumed my life. Through this youth program, I was able to try new things and learn from my experiences. Whether it was judging photography, showing steers and heifers, competing in speaking contests or making fun crafts, 4-H opens up huge opportunities for kids in agriculture. Just like Carrie Underwood appealed to kids about becoming a vegetarian on PBS Kids a few years ago, I was told that Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) was recently given the chance to push their political agenda on teens at the 2010 National 4-H Conference on March 20-25, 2010.
4-H is an organization based on integrity, hard work, service to others and a passion for agriculture, yet, it certainly seems like nothing is sacred anymore. HSUS went directly to the future food producers of America to advance their mission to abolish animal agriculture and eliminate meat and dairy products from our diets. After reading their handout for kids at the conference, "Mission: Humane Action Guide" for teens, it's quite obvious they are trying to convert wholesome farm kids to campaigning, lobbying HSUS activists. Keep reading; you won't believe the propaganda they are pushing on today's youth.
The propaganda passed out during one of the workshops at the conference showed kids how to write letters to the editor, start a club, appeal to legislators, influence others and push for vegan meals in their school cafeterias. HSUS has 11 million followers, and in 2009, they trained 2,100 activists, and it looks like they are aiming to pull in our youth, as well. Wayne Pacelle (CEO of HSUS) is clearly willing to do anything and everything these days to advance his agendas.
How did we let this happen? Who would have thought 4-H wouldn't yet know about HSUS and their hidden agendas? Was anyone at the conference? If so, what was said at the workshop? It's crystal clear that we still have a lot of work to do to educate others, including our colleagues, about the HSUS and their main mission to abolish animal agriculture in this country. We need to get started today. Spread the word and let our voices be heard. We cannot, will not, let HSUS influence kids in agriculture with their well-oiled campaign appeals.
By the way, a great place for kids to get more information about these issues is through this blog. Have you shared this newsletter with your kids, friends and colleagues? Shoot me an email, and I will be happy to sign you up to receive BEEF Daily emails every Monday-Thursday. I would love to have you join the online conversation.