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4-H rules need to have flexibility

To the editor: I’m writing today to express my concerns about a recent dilemma. We have been involved in the 4-H programs for the past nine years and really longer than that if you count the years that my husband spent in his youth. We have been happy with most of the things that 4-H has taught our kids and have always considered it a part of our daily life. Our son, Colt, has learned how to feed, train and show nine steers. Well, this past week he was lucky enough to qualify for the National Finals Rodeo in Springfield, Ill. This is a once in a lifetime honor and we are very proud of him. The problem is that he has to leave for the finals on Saturday evening of the fair, the same day as the 4-H auction. He will be there for market class and senior showmanship (which is a requirement for all market classes), for all barn duties and whatever he may need to do. The only thing that he will be unable to attend is the sale. Colt met with the sales committee and asked if his sister, who is also taking a market steer, could walk his steer through the sale for him. They said that there where no exceptions to the rule and since others have requested to be released in the past for other things, they couldn’t allow him to either. Now we don’t want to cause waves or make anyone upset but we feel that qualifying for the National High School Rodeo is a pretty good reason for missing the sale. We were told that Colt would have to make a choice. Well, he chose to take a steer in October and has been feeding and caring for this steer for almost nine months not knowing that the sale day and finals would fall at the same time. He chose to be involved in rodeo since he could sit a horse. This is part of our life-style as ranchers and rodeo people, it’s who we are and what we do. We have tried every way possible to try and make this work out. Colt is on the latest flight out at 11:30 p.m. and arriving at Springfield at 8:30 a.m. The final check in for the final is at 12 on Sunday. This doesn’t give him much time for delays. If he doesn’t make the check in time he will be disqualified! The point of this letter is that there should be an exception to every rule and all is not written in stone. Life is full of activities and sometimes they overlap. Colt has worked hard and invested lots into this steer, it would be a shame if he couldn’t work this out. Give him a chance to leave for Illinois feeling good about his fair experience. If you feel that this should be changed, contact the sales committee members and voice your opinion. Thanks for your ear. Bill and Sharon Conley Paulina