Personal Safety: 100 years and growing

4-H animal science project continue to prepare children and youth for a future of many possibilities.

Most practices over 100 years old are considered old-fashioned and outdated.  While we may appreciate them for their historic perspective, we seldom consider something that so old to be relevant and useful today.  However, try telling that to the thousands of 4-H youth that raise, care for and show their animals at county fairs across Michigan.  Just as the generations before them, 4-H youth put months of time, care and learning into their animal projects and come to fairs to show their animals and test their knowledge and skills.  Through this 100 year old practice of raising and showing animals in 4-H, today’s youth are still learning vital life skills that help them grow into successful adults. 

According to Michigan State University Extension, one of the life skills youth continue to develop through 4-H animal science projects is personal safety.  Personal safety is defined as personal actions that prevent physical injury to oneself.  Anyone who has been around livestock understands that safety needs to be a high priority.  Large animals can put people, particularly youth, in dangerous positions.  However, safety concerns are just as relevant for smaller animals, a lesson I have personally learned well.  Up until about five years ago, I spent most of my time around livestock.  At the State 4-H Rabbit and Cavy Show that year I was handed a rabbit. I had never handled one before, and I unknowing held the rabbit in a way that it did not feel comfortable with; it responded by scratching me.  Fortunately for me, several young 4-Hers were present and quickly helped me safely reposition the rabbit which stopped its kicking.  The scratches and my ego healed, but a good lesson was learned!  Before youth interact with animals, safety is, and should always be, discussed.  Part of understanding personal safety is understanding how to identify potentially dangerous situations, risks and appropriate responses.  With the guidance of 4-H teen and adult leaders, youth learn how to make good decisions that relate to their animals welfare and their own personal safety.

Today’s youth face a future that requires a different set of knowledge and skills than the youth 100 years before them.  However, developing a sense of personal safety in young people remains just as important today as it did to our grandfather’s and grandmother’s generation. 4-H animal science projects provide great experiences and life skills that help young people practice and appreciate personal safety, and so much more.

To learn more about 4-H animal projects or life skills youth gain, like personal safety, contact the 4-H staff person in your county.

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