By Bob Weaver|
4-H made a great difference in my life, the working on projects and the standing up
before my little group that met up and down the West Fork in the 1950's. Several
years ago, while speaking before a large number of people, I paused at the beginning
of my little talk to express gratitude to 4-H, most of my public speaking jitters having
It is with anger and disgust I have followed the bureaucratic removal of Native
American rituals from the 4-H program, which during my time were delivered with
utmost respect. The WVU Extension Service (SEE 4-H stories in Hur Herald) has with
ivory tower arrogance decided it is an abuse of Native American culture, based on a
My dad used the term "educated fools" to describe such circumstances, but in this
case the "right thing to do" or politically correct decision is likely based on what may
have been a far-fetched threat of losing $4.5 million from the USDA.
If the concern was of a spiritual nature, it would seem the likes of Dr. Larry Cote and
his staff would have turned to the illustrious and profound history of 4-H in West
Virginia, or more importantly to the tens of thousands of 4-H'ers who experienced the
rewards of the 4-H program. It was in 4-H I learned respect for my Native American
brothers and sisters, their hardships, survival skills and spiritual way of life.
Maybe he should have chatted with the 6,000 4-H volunteer leaders, not to forget the
It is a slap at the most important teaching tools used in the 4-H program, and I believe
to the Native American culture from which the best was borrowed to make it all
It is a travesty that 4-H parents, members, leaders and alumni have quickly buckled
to this decision, described by Dr. Cote as final. The real slam here is not to Native
Americans, but to Native West Virginians and one of the most trusted and proven
programs for children in America.
The 4-H movement in West Virginia should immediately cancel their relationship with
the West Virginia University Extension Service, expand their own foundation, seek
funding and continue the course of head, heart, hands and health for generations of
children to come.
This would be the "right thing to do."