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FFA versus 4-H
It’s the Pitts
By Lee Pitts

I was a proud participant in the FFA, which stood for the Future Farmers of America, while my childhood friend Red was in the 4-H, which stands for head, heart, hands and some other word that starts with H.

As kids we used to argue for hours over which organization was better and so when we recently got together for the first time in several years it was only natural that we rekindled the argument.

“Red, looking back now you surely must realize how dorky you looked with your white pants and that funny- looking folding hat that looked like you were on shore leave from the Navy. And that green necktie sure clashed with your red hair.”

“Well, you weren’t exactly a girl-magnet yourself with your blue corduroy jacket with a cross section of an ear of corn on the back. As I recall you wore that jacket to school every day and never took it off, even when it was 100 degrees. Do you have any idea how bad you smelled? Or perhaps it was the smell of steer manure.”

“At least in my day we didn’t allow girls or little brothers and sisters in the FFA. We had standards. You had to take ag classes to be in the FFA. To be in the 4-H all you had to be was eight years old and breathing. Heck, the 4-H even let my sister join, which just shows how low their requirements were for membership.”

“Yes, we were very inclusive whereas you FFAers were living in the Stone Age trying to keep girls out of the FFA. And while you guys were taking vo-ag classes in high school, 4-H members were taking college preparatory courses and other advanced curriculum.”

“Well at least we had a leader who knew something. Our advisor was our vocational ag teacher while your leaders were just a bunch of parents. I know for a fact that some 4-H leaders don’t have the intellectual capacity of a jar of mustard because I was a 4-H Beef Leader for a couple years. That proves right there that you don’t have to know anything.”

“Your were a leader? Those poor kids. But at least our projects entailed more than raising a lamb or a steer for the county fair,” countered Red. “4-Hers had their choice between a variety of interesting projects such as photography, leatherwork, archery, entomology, cake decorating, rabbits, cooking, sewing and many more.”

“Red, as I recall, you had a German Shepherd for a project one time. Dogs are not projects, my 4-H friend, they are pets.”

“It was a guide dog for the blind, you idiot. And I’ll have you know that my cake decorating skills are very much appreciated whenever there’s a birthday.”

“Oh, I’m sure that your 4-H experience really prepared you for the future. Have you made any saddles or shot any bull’s-eyes with your bow and arrow lately?”

“You should talk. You belonged to the Future Farmers of America but did you become a farmer? No. In fact, I bet you can’t name one Future Farmer member in our high school class that actually became a farmer.”

“You’re as full of wind as a bloated bull. For your information our old friend Rob Pinkley actually became a farmer.”

“Rob? I always thought he was lazier than boiled blubber. What does he farm?”

“Whoa there my 4-H fanatic, I never said he was a particularly good farmer, now did I? No, Rob’s farm was of the nonprofit variety and after a few years of massive tax write-offs he went broke.”

“Still he became a farmer,” said Red admiringly. “I wonder what he’s doing now?”

“The last I heard he’s slinging hash and flipping burgers down at Denny’s.”

“Ah-ha! So, he became a cook. I bet now he wishes he’d have had 4-H training.”

“Yeah, right. Oh, look here Red, there’s a button missing on this shirt of mine. Do you think you could you sew a new one on for me?”

This farm news was published in the Oct. 11, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.

10/10/2006