Give Now to Support Wisconsin
4-H Youth Livestock Programs!
Perhaps we have met at an agricultural event over the years; hopefully you have been part of my audience as I cover the world of agriculture on radio and TV. I’ve had the privilege of talking to you and for you for over sixty years, trying to help people understand what it takes to put food on their table, clothes on their back, a roof over their heads, and now energy in their tank.
But that’s not why I am writing to you today. I’m sending you this letter to ask if we share more. I’m asking if you share my deep and unwavering love for agriculture and for the youth who are the future. You may not be aware that my agriculture roots are right here, in Wisconsin, growing up on a dairy farm in Vernon County near Ontario and being an active member of the O’Connell Rustlers 4-H Club. My projects included corn, poultry and dairy with my year-old Guernsey heifer being my favorite. I’m sorry to report that despite all my hard work with my 4-H Dairy Leader and my calf, I didn’t even place at the Vernon County Fair. But I learned a lot.
Maybe you can relate. Maybe you are still actively engaged in the industry as a livestock producer. Or maybe you have only your memories of barns full of animals or fields heavy with grain waving in the breeze or spring rains softening winter-hardened soil. In any case, we share a passion.
Agriculture is a passion. It has to be. No other work is as consuming, as hard, as vital as agriculture. People born into it, and people who choose it later in life, understand the passion. I see it every day, on the faces of the people just like you, who wake in the morning thinking of their livestock and go to sleep every night thinking of their livestock.
That’s what I’m asking you to do today. I’m asking that you recognize your role in helping make sure that Wisconsin kids continue to have the same type of development experiences we did as youth, and that we work together to make that happen.
The Wisconsin 4-H Foundation is working to create an endowment which will permanently provide resources for livestock-related youth programming. The Wisconsin 4-H Livestock Endowment Fund will provide resources for livestock-related youth programs, including programming in ag advocacy, quality assurance, judging, careers and record keeping. The ultimate purpose of the 4-H Livestock Program is to provide opportunities for young people to develop the character and life skills they will need to become successful and contributing members of society.
Last year, Wisconsin 4-H members had nearly 50,000 livestock projects, including cattle, swine, sheep, goats, poultry and rabbits. Additionally, the UW-Extension 4-H Youth Development department provided livestock programming, including the quality assurance program, to an additional 25,000 Wisconsin youth who are not 4-H members.
It’s no surprise that livestock programming is the largest project area in Wisconsin 4-H. I believe that youth livestock programs are a model program for youth development and for public understanding of American agriculture. While the obvious purpose of 4-H animal projects is to teach young people how to feed, fit and exhibit their animals, I believe that the more important purpose is to provide an opportunity for personal growth and development. In my case, I learned a lot of skills, and while I did not excel in project work, 4-H led me to public speaking and a career in broadcasting that started in Sparta in 1952.
I am asking you to join with me and support livestock programs. I was one of the first people to make an investment in our future by contributing to the Livestock Endowment Fund, and I am asking you to join me. I made my contribution in honor of the children who are in 4-H and who are yet to be born, who will take the reins from you and me.
You can help. Please make your gift today. Together we can keep the passion for agriculture alive. Forever.
Wisconsin 4-H Alumnus and Passionate Agriculture Advocate
Just like Orion, I remember my first calf, too. My Daisy taught me more that summer than any teacher. And, just like Orion, I know that my passion for agriculture and, especially livestock, was born in Daisy’s pasture.
As you may know, I’ve been around the livestock industry for more than a few years. In my retirement, I spend my time working on projects that I think matter. Recently, a challenge came to me that I was compelled to accept.
I am the Chairman of the Wisconsin 4-H Livestock Endowment Fund. Our goal is to raise at least $500,000, which will establish an endowed fund to be used for youth livestock programs.
I’m sure it is not necessary to tell you about the importance of 4-H to our youth in Wisconsin, as I know you have long been an ardent supporter of Wisconsin 4-H. But I will tell you that the Wisconsin 4-H Livestock Endowment Fund will provide necessary resources for livestock-related youth programs like judging, skill and knowledge contests; career exploration; advocacy and public education training, and life-skill development opportunities.
My request is that you consider a gift or multi-year pledge in support of this worthy project.
We are already off to a great start with $100,000 pledged from Equity Cooperative Livestock Sales Association, but we need your help to keep the ball rolling.
With best regards,
Dr. Robert Walton
4-H Alumnus and Retired CEO of ABS Global