Letters to the Editor

Loss of 4-H clubs would hurt kids

I am a 13-year-old girl writing this letter on behalf of my 4-H horse club Freedom Reins, and everyone in Washington State 4-H. We have recently been notified that due to budget problems, Washington State University may be closing down 4-H in Washington! As in the WHOLE of Washington!

Not only that but they also wanted to do it quietly and quickly so that we didn’t even know about it! The reason they wanted to do it quietly was because they knew it was wrong. They want to shut it down in two weeks! Two weeks!

That would mean no more horse shows, county fair, state fair (which is the Puyallup Fair), Nationals in Kentucky, public presentations, record books, judgings, posters, no more ANYTHING! 4-H is not just about competing; it’s about education, raising a kid’s self-esteem, teaching them responsibility, leadership skills and helping prepare them for their future.

Because of this we can’t let them just shut 4-H down like it doesn’t matter - it does matter!

It matters to me because it brought me out of my shell. Now I have a lot of friends. Before 4-H, I didn’t have any. I was able to take a presentation that I could barely do in front of my club and take it all the way to the State Fair and win a blue ribbon. I was then able to do it in front of a group of kids who were learning how to do public speaking. I have learned organizational skills by having to keep a detailed journal of what I do with my horse each year. I have learned skills that have made me become a better and safer rider. Please remember that I’m not just speaking for myself - I am also speaking for my club and over 75,000 other kids. 75,000 kids! 75,000 kids will be put out of 4-H if WSU has anything to do with it.

Here is a website confirming the amount of kids in 4-H last year: http://4h.wsu.edu/ws4h/stats/07_08stats.htm

In 4-H there are side projects like Horse Bowl (which is like Jeopardy, only with horses). In fact we have the Horse Bowl state contest in about a month. If they shut 4-H down in two weeks it will ruin about six months of hard work on our part. We have senior and intermediate Horse Bowl teams that compete for the title of State Grand Champion Horse Bowl Team. An added bonus for the winning Senior Team is that they can compete at Nationals in Kentucky. Last year both the senior and intermediate teams from Pierce County won and because the intermediates won they got to go to Kentucky with the seniors. Let me tell you that was the most AMAZING trip I have ever taken. I got to fulfill a dream of going to Churchill Downs on that trip.

I decided that I wanted to become a veterinarian after visiting KESMARC (which stands for Kentucky Equine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Center). All of that because of 4-H. Dreams were fulfilled because of 4-H.

Does that tell you anything? Because it tells me a lot of things. One is that if 4-H were to quit being around those sorts of dreams would stop being fulfilled for 75,000 kids and I don’t think you want that to happen.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. This is an important issue and getting the press behind our cause will help immensely, so

again I say “Thank you.”

Alexis Torp

Tacoma

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