‘Code of the West’ can serve county’s 4-H’ers

The recent storms have caused considerable damage to our great state of Colorado. My thoughts and well wishes go out to all the victims and people affected by the destructive weather.

In particular, the agriculture community has been hard hit. Farmers and ranchers have had to deal with drought conditions in the spring and early summer months to wet and flooding conditions in late summer. This damage has caused great economic, environmental and emotional strain.

However, through all these challenges, people find a way to overcome and persevere. This nature really speaks to the integrity of our area. Recently, I took part in “Code of the West” training, inspired by the book Cowboy Ethics by James P. Owen. (James has other inspiring books and information that can be obtained by visiting www.cowboyethics.org.)

Even though the name may suggest that the information is directed toward a Western male audience, the information can be universally promoted to an audience of girls and a diversity of cultures. This was extremely important for me to understand before the training, as we are looking to broaden our local 4-H program beyond the stereotype of being a rural ranching program.

The Code of the West curriculum is based on 10 key principles: live each day with courage; take pride in your work; always finish what you start; do what has to be done; be tough, but fair; when you make a promise, keep it; ride for the brand; talk less, say more; remember that some things are not for sale; and know where to draw the line.

The curriculum follows a process of engaging youths in activities that lead to discussion and application of these principles. It is always exciting to add more tools to my toolbox of positive youth development. I will look to use this curriculum by hosting trainings for our entire La Plata County 4-H program. We can use this in our county and club officer trainings, at our camp and as part of regular club meetings. In addition, I can offer this program to 4-H after-school and school enrichment programs.

La Plata County 4-H will be celebrating the end of the 4-H year Saturday at our annual Achievement Night. This night will honor all of our award recipients from our natural resources, family and consumer science, horse and livestock projects. It is also a great opportunity to celebrate all of our adult volunteers and leaders who make this such a great community program.

Registration for our 2013-14 4-H year begins Tuesday. If you and your family are interested in joining a 4-H club, contact me or come down to the Extension office for more information.

We have more than 15 clubs throughout the county that meet monthly. Clubs and members take part in community service events, practice public speaking and demonstration skills, and have the opportunity to take advantage of wonderful life skills and leadership trainings throughout the year.

felsengh@co.laplata.co.us or 382-6463. Greg Felsen is La Plata County 4-H youth development agent.

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