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Commissioners misguided in cutting 4-H


The Arenac County Board of Commissioners is being very aggressive in its attempt to cut $100,000 out of the county’s budget the next two years, and even enrolled department heads to help them find ways to save.

But the two plans presented Tuesday strike a nerve with me.

They both included the county’s 4-H program. Which to me, means that it’s gone.

Recently, the county’s 4-H program held its Cloverbud Day Camp and part of it included a trip to the AuGres Community Library to see a “Bats of the World” presentation.

Admittedly, I’m not sure which children at the library were campers and which were just kids there to see an interesting presentation, but all the kids at the program were amazed and excited to learn about bats and see them live, up close and personal.

But, the most important part of the program to me was that the kids were learning, whether they knew it or not, during their summer break.

People like me, and perhaps many adults, grew up hating bats. Rats with wings, that’s what they’ve always been to me. The children at the library, on the other hand, learned the truth about bats.

They are an important part of the natural ecosystem and help get rid of something much more annoying, populous, and, because of the potential to carry diseases, dangerous. I’m talking, of course, about mosquitoes.

Now, I still am not a big fan of bats. And I already knew they ate bugs. But the kids at the library got to see bats in a different light. They saw the winged mammals as pets, as creatures that you could build houses for and live comfortably with in close vicinity.

4-H also gets a lot of young kids involved with raising fair livestock. Ultimately, raising the livestock can also put some money in the kids’ pockets.

Most importantly, though, the kids raising calves, sheep, rabbits, chickens and other animals learn responsibility. An 85-pound girl can learn how to coerce a half-ton steer a to allow her to lead it around a corral. A young boy can learn the humility that comes with scooping up a steer’s droppings, and see it pay off when he makes big bucks at the fair’s livestock auction.

Leadership, business, opportunity – they are all products of 4-H. Products that, in my eyes, are still important to stress to a young generation of kids who know hundreds of Internet acronyms before they learn cursive writing.

Clearly the county needs to save money. But, just like the Michigan State Legislature, the county shouldn’t be targeting at eliminating something that can truly make a difference in a young guy or girl’s life – education.

If you want to cut some funding to the program, that I can live with. But to totally cut a program that can teach children, while they are still young, that hard work can pay off, is irresponsible.

I applaud the county’s aggressive approach at saving money. But try again.


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