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RBC I If you were to ask people what 4-H is about, a large number of them would say, “cooking and cows.” Yes, that’s where the emphasis of 4-H was years ago and those quality projects are still important today.
Teaching good animal husbandry and efficient home economic practices were founding ideas in the 4-H program. Although our lifestyles have changed during the past 100 years, our needs for quality meat products, humane animal care and safe, nutritional food preparation and service has not.
4-H started as the conduit to reach parents with research-based information and techniques from the land-grant universities. Today, although it still reaches adults, the 4-H program strives to teach youth skills that will be utilized throughout their lives.
The traditional animal projects of beef, sheep and swine are still strong for many 4-H’ers. In Rio Blanco County, we have more than 240 youth taking one or more of these projects. The main goal for these members is to provide humane care and housing for their animals while producing the best marketable animal possible for today’s consumer consumption. Market and breeding project members must participate in the Meat Quality Assurance program to ensure they are following current production practices.
It’s important for them to know the project from its beginning to its end — from the pasture to the plate. Consumer markets these days are very influential on the quality of meat, milk or eggs they will purchase. It’s important for the youth involved in these projects to understand current market trends and respond in kind when raising their animal.
Looking at the family and consumer science side, the foods and nutrition project has come full circle from when enrollment numbers were high in the beginning. Then when the fast food craze and processed food products became so popular, numbers dropped significantly. People are now again learning the importance of preparing their own food and practicing better nutritional choices.
The Decorate Your Duds and Recycled Clothing projects show members how to embellish and/or change what they may already have in their closets into new, fashionable clothing and home accessories. This has proved to be very helpful in these current stressful economic conditions.
4-H has answered needs for new and evolving projects such as computer, wind power, geospatial and more, while the tried-and-true 4-H projects still offer much needed skills and opportunities.
If your child is interested in joining 4-H or you would like further information, please contact the Rio Blanco County Extension office at 970-878-9490 in Meeker or 970-878-9495 in Rangely. 4-H is a cooperative effort between Colorado State University Extension and Rio Blanco County.