Why on earth would anybody need a $300 chicken? More importantly, why would a marketing agency need a $300 chicken? Some might wonder if it’s a new golden breed, part of some breakout gastronomic food trend we had to try, or maybe just the most expensive BBQ picnic in history. It’s none of these.
What it actually is…
It’s an investment in the next generation of agriculture leaders. Rooted in our company philosophy is the importance of giving back and supporting agriculture at it’s very roots and one of the best ways we can do that is by supporting students actively involved in agriculture. One of the many ways we do this is through supporting organizations like 4-H and FFA. These organizations train students in a variety of hands on projects and core leadership competencies.
This past weekend I attended the small animal auction at our local county fair and showed my support by purchasing the premium on one of those 4-H’ers exhibits. In this case a bantam chicken. I had my choice of more chickens, rabbits, turkeys, geese and ducks in this auction. That premium represents a reward for the time and effort this 4-H’er took to educate herself on her project and the work ethic it took to care for and train her animal. Not only did we support her individual project financially, we re-gifted the chicken to the 4-H Leader Scholar Fund for it to be re-auctioned with the proceeds supporting scholarships for 4-H students.
The Largest Youth Organization in the U.S.
If you aren’t familiar with 4-H, it is the largest youth organization in the U.S. and serves more than 6 million students nationwide. 4-H is delivered by the Cooperative Extension service, a community of more than 100 public universities across the nation that provide experiences focused on the idea of learning by doing. This is hands-on application and skill building in the areas of health, science, agriculture, citizenship and beyond. You might be thinking it’s just for the farm kids. In fact, the reach of 4-H is unmatched with 2.6 million rural participants, but also another 1.8 million urban and 1.6 million suburban participants.
The power of that leadership reach is noted by many public figures across politics, entertainment, business, athletics and more. Notable alumni that have highlighted their time in 4-H include U.S. President Jimmy Carter, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Former Georgia Governor and current Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, astronaut Alan Shepard, athletic greats Herschel Walker and Archie Manning, entertainment icons like Julia Roberts, Johnny Carson, Dolly Parton and Reba McIntyre and business leaders from top companies like Eli Lilly, Eastman Kodak, State Farm, Tyson Foods, Ford Motor Company, Bank of America and even Facebook. The list can go on and on.
The Power of the 4-H Experience
My own personal experience with 4-H started at age 7 when I made my first public speaking appearance to recite the 4-H pledge. By age 8 I showed my first steer and participated in my first premium sale where I had to thank the buyer who had bought my steer (and barnyard friend), Snowball. Twelve years later I had showed a dozen steers and some heifers, traveled nationally, been a state 4-H ambassador, attended camps, learned a host of new leadership skills and made lifelong friends. I didn’t know it at age 7, but by age 18 I was well aware of the power that my 4-H experience provided me for my future.
So now, 20+ years later I bought a $300 chicken, and I’ll continue to do so to support the next generations of leaders in agriculture.