Dogs take center stage…youth, hands-on learning and dog care.

Submitted by Dana Palmer, Sr. Extension Associate College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, Cornell University

If you go beyond the tag line and sound bite (or twitter text) and listen you will hear the growth and development that takes place when young people are engaged in 4-H.  This is just one of many potential news stories that captures adult and youth perspectives. Public events simply give youth opportunities to demonstrate their skills.

On a historical timeline, this extension program is quite young. 4-H Dog Care and Training program activities began in 4-H in New York between 1952 and 1965. It was not until 1963 when Dr. Harold A. Willman (Cornell University Animal Science Department Professor) published the second edition of “A 4-H Handbook and Lesson Guide” which included a plan for developing a 4-H Dog Obedience Training Course.   Weekly lesson plans (using evidence based principles and practices) are still valuable today!

From what I have been able to glean from historical files, it was not until the 1970’s that a NYS 4-H Dog Show was held at the NYS Fair under the direction of Dr. Dennis A. Hartman (Animal Science Department Professor).  Dr. Hartman was also commissioned by the National 4-H Council to revise several publications he prepared in NY in 1977 with the help of several 4-H volunteers in our state. Those publications were revised in 1983. For all NEW 4-H Dog instructors, the University of Wisconsin revised the basic obedience lessons again in 2004.

Although knowledge content can be shared “on-line”, nothing replaces actual hands-on skills practice when learning how to manage time and resources, cook, drive, dive, fly, play music or care for other living things.

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