Monday, October 15, 2007


The 4-H has an online Flash game they call Horseland where players breed and raise their own show horses. It's somehow affiliated with a kids show on CBS called KEWLopolis. The basic membership is free, but only with the premium membership can you "own stables and host shows. They also get a larger allowance of play money each week." Horseland is "easy to learn, but you can play it for years."

The internet continues to blow my mind.

Unfortunately, after trying the game myself, I have to say it sucks. The only fancy pants Flash animation was on the first page. After that it's really pretty crappy. Lots of people playing though it seemed. Over 12,000 registered American Mustangs.

So anyway, what brings me to this delightful Interwebs crossroad is that I was trying to find out, for whatever reason (none of your business), about 4-H, the organization that I thought was exclusively about kids raising farm animals. Never doubted it, like P or not-P. 4-H = kids and farm animals. Maybe the Harrisburg Farm Show too.

I went to their site (the National 4-H Council) and there is virtually nothing at all about farming. From their PDF document "an overview of 4-H today" in the About Us section: "4-H has three primary program areas: science, engineering and technology; healthy living; and citizenship. Youth learn leadership, citizenship and life skills through more than 1,000 projects with topics as varied as rocketry, GPS mapping, DNA analysis, public speaking, photography, nutrition and community service."

Where's farming?

You can kind of guess that 4-H is involved in agriculture by the list of companies that sponsor it: Carhart, John Deere, Monsanto, ATV Safety Institute, and The Farm Credit System Foundation. But the list also includes: The Annie E. Casey Foundation, New York Life, Met Life, Toyota, and JC Penney.

If you look very carefully in the Programs area of the site in the Science, Engineering, and Technology section, there is a small pie chart that is rather difficult to read which says that 41% of 4-H youth participate in Animal Science, 11% in Agriculture, and 13% in Plant Science. The others participate in Engineering, Technology, and Other Sciences (16%) and Environmental Science (19%). But they point out in a tiny footnote that members often participate in more than one project. So really it could be that almost every single person in 4-H does Animal Science (read: birthing cows) and ALSO have participated in at least on other project in one other area.

Anyway, I think they're trying to hip it up a little over at 4-H and I think it's kind of silly to hide all the slimy lambings and brutal slaughters behind Science and Technology. I don't think it's dishonest though (perhaps not mentioning farming in the "overview" when 65% of 4-H members do it might be dishonest), but 4-H folks know a lot of science and they are probably more likely to go onto careers in science or technology.

I mean, check out this incredibly charming webpage about raising sheep from the UC Irvine 4-H farm. Very cute, like a kid wrote it, from the Why Raising a Sheep is Fun section: "walking a lamb every day after school can be relaxing" and "Wet sheep smell like wet wool." Followed by explosions of science: "Watch for the afterbirth. You can discard it right away or let the ewe eat it. In the wild this is what mothers do to remove some of the birthing smell, hoping to discourage predators. The afterbirth also contains hormones that, when consumed by the mother, stimulate the uterus to contract and return to its normal size." And those that are somewhere in between: "The second hardest part is identifying a lamb's body parts when your hand is exploring the inside of the ewe's reproductive tract."

He leans back in his chair and it squeaks. He kicks up his feet and slowly places his hands interlocked behind his head while exhaling, "Ahhhhh, the internet.

1 comment:

Grant said...

So, you were looking at the 4 H sight. 4-H is for kids. I think you are probably being watched by the FBI.