County cuts funding for 4-H

July 17, 2009 7:35:59 PM PDT
In Contra Costa County, the 4-H program helps teaches kids leadership skills. However, it is in big trouble due to funding cuts that could end the popular program.

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Today may be referred to "the good old days," since they may soon quickly disappear. It may soon be a distant memory that a daughter won a ribbon at a 4-H competition, and pleased her mother, who once did much the same.

Sayings like "they are learning amazing life lessons," begin to sound like a broken record when 4-H kids get together, but believe them.

During a summer when other kids their age might get into trouble, these kids are too busy with more pressing issues, like the economics of buying and selling hogs.

"Well I got to split it with my parents because they bought the feed and stuff," said 4-H member Peter Strikers.

In Antioch this week, they gathered at a youth fair with a sense of foreboding, because Contra Costa County has cut their funding of $325,000 due to budget restrictions.

"We are the future, but we're in their hands. If they take this away what is molding us for the future, what do we have left?" said 4-H member Amanda Tonkin.

The $325,000 from the county are important because the open so many doors in grant money from other sources like the state and the federal government -- $3.2 million in total.

Between the loss of those matching funds, and all the good work that 4-H kids do, some people see the county as short-sighted.

"We don't understand why they want to lose the money," says 4-H Treasurer Carla Moore.

But the supervisors have already voted and the decision made. Without a fundraising miracle, next year looks like Contra Costa County's first without 4-H since 1902. It's a dubious distinction to an impressionable generation.

"For me it hurts because 4-H is a family. You take away the money, and unfortunately, it breaks up the family," said Tonkin.

Link: Contra Costa County 4-H

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