I found this article on http://www.equinechronicle.com today that hit home for me, and I suspect for many more of you as well…
Coming from personal experience, I showed 4-H, Open and QH circuit all through high school, and though I never felt discriminated against, it never occurred to me to wonder either. Now that my step-son is in high school, and an athlete in wrestling and baseball, we often have discussions about the high financial cost of these activities. Pay to play, uniform fees, fundraisers, etc. It wears parents out, to say nothing of the constant reminders issued by coaching staff, booster organizations, and the schools themselves, that they always need/want more money for their athletic programs and extra-curriculars. In 4-H, we never did fundraising. Showing circuits all season long, we footed those bills without complaint. If we had money, we hauled, if money was tight, we stayed home. Part of me wonders if the main reason schools don’t support outside activities, is simply because they receive no financial gain from it.
Now, it seems that any high school student wanting a prayer of getting in to any kind of decent college or post-high school program, has to have a more detailed and decorated resume than most veteran CEO’s. If your child doesn’t play sports, get straight A’s, volunteer, and speak at least two languages fluently, it’s Community College at best! Students, and their parents already have so much pressure resting on their shoulders, now that just doing well isn’t nearly enough. Why draw a line in the sand? They allow for FFA programs in schools, why not embrace Rodeo, 4-H, Pony Club, and others? That doesn’t even begin to touch on the list of other unsupported and non-animal-related activities, like dancing. As far as I’m concerned, every dollar I spend to support a kid with livestock, is a dollar I’m less likely to have to spend on addiction and rehab, unplanned pregnancy, and therapists. It’s no different than paying for them to play a school-sanctioned sport. Investing in your student’s success should be a universal language, not just one that’s spoken by parents.