What Makes 4H So Great
By Rob Usakowski
This weekend we participated in our second state 4H rabbit show. It brought back a lot of memories, and really brought back into focus why we decided to start raising rabbits.
When we lived in the city, our family was very involved with little league football. The girls all cheered and mom was a coach on one of the teams. During the summer I would coach AYSO soccer and one daughter and my nephew would play. Needless to say we were very involved in our community and very busy.
When we moved out of the city and into a rural location we started to look for activities for our children to participate in. We made some calls to our local extension office and got some information about 4H. Project areas were not really a concern at that point. We went to our first 4H meeting a few weeks later.
Everybody was very friendly. At the meeting were children from ages 4-19 and many parents. Although an adult advisor oversaw the meeting, the meeting itself was run by the teen officers of the club. My girls thought about all the opportunities they would have and one of them asked us if she could get a couple of rabbits.
We decided that we would, and picked out Holland lops as a breed. We knew nothing of ARBA or breed standards. We went to a local lady that breeds all sorts of rabbits, and is very helpful to 4Hers, and purchased two rabbits.
We then got involved with our 4H rabbit club, and have been raising and breeding rabbits ever since. What started off as two rabbits has now grown to over 30. Our 4H rabbit leader has been a great help to us throughout all of our rabbit experiences. She has always been willing to give us help and recommendations on rabbits.
Through 4H our girls have learned how to care for their rabbits, how to handle their rabbits, how to breed their rabbits, how to care for their kits, and how to show their rabbits. Because of their involvement they have become more serious about showing their rabbits in ARBA shows.
What makes 4H unique is that although they do compete, the entire atmosphere is about learning. Regardless of the activity, whether rabbits, chickens, shooting sports, horticulture or bugs, everyone is sharing information to make everyone the best at their particular activity. Once a member learns something in their project area, they are encouraged to share that information with younger and newer members. This teaches them excellent communication, and leadership skills.
It made this weekend very refreshing. We went to our second state 4H rabbit show. Although, our girls rabbits were competing against other rabbits the atmosphere was very relaxed and enjoyable. Many of the same ARBA members they compete against were also there. It certainly is not the same atmosphere as an ARBA show. Keep in mind the purpose of the ARBA is not the same as 4H. We enjoy both types of shows.
The goals for my daughters are two fold. First, they want to learn as much about rabbits as they possibly can. They will often joke about being veterinarians. Second, they want to produce the best rabbits possible. The combination of ARBA and 4H has pushed them closer to that goal.
If your children have an interest in pursuing the raising of any livestock, I'd encourage you to get them involved in 4H. You and your family will find its abundant opportunities, educational and exciting. There are also many programs available for urban clubs, and members interested in projects other than livestock. For more information contact you state university extension office or visit the following web site where you can look up your local 4H office https://nifa.usda.gov/partners-and-extension-map#.
About The Author
Rob Usakowski is owner of Three Little Ladies Rabbitry which is run by his wife Cathie and their three daughters. Visit their site Three Little Ladies Holland Lops for lots of rabbit raising information for both pet owners andbreeders alike.