Sen. Stroebel says UW Extension 'undermining' 4-H program

Wisconsin State Farmer
Duey Stroebel

Former 4-H member and project leader Duey Stroebel is speaking out against the University of Wisconsin Division of Extension, going so far as to say the organization is "undermining" the state's 4-H program.

The state senator from Saukville issued a statement following Extension's release of online guidance regarding the halt of 4-H events or activities at county fairs. The guidelines dictate that "4-H programming will not occur during large gatherings or activities", adding that those types of activities held during a county fair would not meet Extension requirements.

"I am completely baffled and incredibly frustrated at how little sense it makes for UW-Extension to undermine its terrific flagship program, 4-H. In counties across the state, including Ozaukee County, fair boards are putting on county fairs in full compliance and cooperation with local health department officials.

"After the expiration of statewide mandates in favor of localized health determinations, for some reason UW-Extension canceled most 4-H events this summer statewide, regardless of actual health risks on the ground. Kids in Wisconsin who want to learn about and participate in agriculture are discouraged from going to safe outdoor fairs. Then, if they dare to participate in an event while following local health guidelines, they are stripped of the 4-H name and their accomplishments will not be acknowledged because UW-Extension has decided to pretend that this summer doesn't exist.

"4-H is the largest youth organization in Wisconsin with more than 100,000 youth members and tens of thousands of adult volunteers. What lessons about hard work, overcoming adversity and community service are we teaching these kids when the order from UW-Extension is to hide indoors rather than proudly compete in compliance with local health guidance? Perhaps the better question is why should their parents pay taxes to support an organization that actively discourages its stated mission and goals?"