Life in the Valley of Riches

A few weeks back I spoke out about religion in 4-H. Since that time, I have spoken to 4-H Outreach Program Coordinator Lisa Parlette and learned why it was an issue. While I don’t like it, I understand why they have the policy.
Children are matched with 4-H clubs based on their interest and physical location. For example, there is only one rabbit club. If a child who is Muslim or Jewish wanted to show rabbits, they likely would not be comfortable wearing a shirt with a cross. Christian members would likely not be happy to wear a shirt with a star of David.
Parlette says that for youths that want to share their experience with their God, there are other ways. “Cross necklaces, hair pins or even embroidering on their pants. Other youth put up posters in their stalls that contain religious symbols and quotes.” When 4-H club shirts are not required, participants may wear personal attire with religious symbols.
Parlette added that she understands the Faithful Farmers members raised the money for the shirts and had offered to cover the cost of new shirts for the club.
I reached out to Faithful Farmers for comment but have not heard from them.
JOE’s Place is another story. Participants of JOE’s Place had participated the prior year as members in an existing club, but moved to start their own youth livestock education club that was not an official 4-H club.
“4-H never received an application to form a club called JOE’s Place. We did receive the question if JOE’s place could participate in 4-H shows and then be eligible for the Josephine County auction. They were told, ‘No, that 4-H shows were open to 4-H clubs and members,’” said Parlette.
Hearing Parlette’s side of the story one can understand that the issue was not Jesus at all.
But what is really shocking is that the Josephine County Commissioners voted to cut the tax funding that was from a levy of roughly $0.04 per $1,000 of assessed property value. That would’ve resulted in an estimated $414,000 in tax revenue for the service district for the upcoming fiscal year.
The commissioners also voted to terminate a service agreement between the county and OSU Extension Services.
The decisions halt local tax funding toward 4-H, the Master Gardener program and the many other services provided by the extension service programming.
I understand the commissioners are trying to cut costs to put toward law enforcement, but this is petty and I am looking into the legality of the move.
Thank you for picking up this week’s paper. Enjoy! ~djm