4-H Speeches by Travis, Joe & Sophie

March 4, 2021

For most people the thought of public speaking rates #1 on their fear factor list. Each year as part of their 4-H program our kids are required to prepare a speech or demonstration and present it publicly to their 4-H Club, family and guests. Strange as it may seem to many, our kids really enjoy this part of 4-H and have been to the Provincial Communications Finals 3 years in a row. Check out their 2021 speeches here ...

This year Travis wanted to write his speech about cattle and climate change. Well that's not really true ... he actually wanted to write about cow farts because, well, he's 14 and that makes it hilarious! lol

How Now Brown Cow?

Dear old Bessy cow, out there in the pasture just grazing away, totally oblivious to the fact that the world is in an uproar about her …. farts. Not even kidding here people, you really can’t make this stuff up!

In case you just arrived on planet earth and have not yet heard about how cows are ‘killing the planet’, please allow me to explain the situation.  

There is a growing movement of people who believe that cow farts are causing climate change and that it is unethical and unhealthy to eat beef. Now to a farm kid like me, that seems absolutely absurd so I decided to do a little investigating.

The mainstream media would have us believe that cattle belches and farts are worse than all transportation when it comes to greenhouse gases and climate change but does the methane produced by cattle really contribute that much to greenhouse gas emissions? According to the US Environmental Protection Agency all livestock represent only 3.9% of emissions and beef cattle are only 2% of that total. 

Compare that to 28.5% for transportation, 28.4% for electricity generation and 21.6% for industry and you can see that the 3.9% produced by livestock is not the first place to look if we want to reduce emissions! In fact, during the first few months of the Covid pandemic transportation and energy production dropped off significantly while animal numbers on the planet remained the same. Interestingly enough greenhouse gas emissions plummeted during that time giving us a pretty good indication of what is actually the culprit here.

People also argue that cattle use up too many resources like water and land. However 94% of the water used for cattle comes from rain and runoff which would be happening whether or not there were any cattle on the land.  

And as for land use 85% of the beef population in the US is currently grazing on land that cannot be cropped for lots of reasons like it’s too dry, too hilly or too rocky. We can certainly understand that living here, as there is a very small percentage of arable land available in BC.

But what about our health? Isn’t red meat bad for us? Shouldn’t we participate in meatless mondays? Actually consumption of red meat has been on the decline since 1970 while our nutrient deficiencies and diseases related to them have been on the rise.  According to Diana Rodgers, author of the book Sacred Cow, the question we should be asking about our health is “What is the ideal diet for humans and how can we produce that in the most regenerative way?” Humans eating steak can receive their nutrient needs in far fewer calories than those eating beans and rice.

But the cherry on top of all of this is that when cattle are managed holistically in ways that mimic natural wild herd behaviours they can actually help BUILD healthy soils, sequester excess carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the soil where it belongs AND produce nutrient dense, healthy food at the same time! It’s an all around win!  

So how bout that … not only is dear old Bessy not the villain in this story, she can actually be the hero!

The long and the short of it is this, if you want a healthy planet and a healthy body then beef is a great choice. In the words of Diana Rodgers, author of “Sacred Cow”, a book about why well raised meat is good for you and good for the planet. 

It’s not the cow, it’s the how!

If you'd like further information on how well raised meat is good for you and good for the planet then I'd highly recommend checking out the book 'Sacred Cow' by Diana Rodgers & Robb Wolf, or watch the film 'Sacred Cow', or listen to Diana Rodgers & Robb Wolf on the Wise Traditions podcast.

Joe wanted to write his speech this year on stress and how to manage it well ...

Chill Out

Wait …. Steady …. Hold …. Inhale … Exhale...  

That’s it, now I’m ready.

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by your life? Maybe, worried about the future? Stressed about speaking in public? Concerned about all the things that are out of your control? Well then - good news - you’re normal! Because it’s pretty much impossible to get through life without ever experiencing stress.

Stress is a normal part of life but too much stress can wreak havoc on your body. It can change your appetite as well as the way you act towards people. It can cause you to have trouble concentrating and difficulty sleeping. Stress can also be a factor in drug and alcohol abuse and chronic stress can lead to depression and dementia.

But wait, don’t get stressed out about all the bad things that stress can do to you.  

Get busy because there’s lots of things you can do to help minimize your stress.  

In fact, get excited because stress can also be used as a catalyst to create positive change in your life.

So first what are some things you can do to mitigate stress in your life:

Numero Uno - You need to move it, move it - that’s right, get up and get moving. According to the Dana Foundation which is a private organization dedicated to advancing understanding about the brain. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals such as dopamine and endorphins that make you feel happy. Not only is your brain dumping out feel-good chemicals while you exercise but it also helps your brain to get rid of the chemicals that make you feel stressed and anxious.” Double bonus!

#2 - Combat breathing. Who gets more stressed than the Navy Seals right? Well to help combat stress in their lives these guys have developed a method called combat (or tactical) breathing. The method focuses on slowing down the breathing rate by breathing through the nostrils and counting to four for each inhale and exhale. Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body because when you breathe deeply it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax.

#3. Get enough sleep. Sleep is a powerful stress reducer. Sleep is so crucial that even slight deprivation or poor sleep can affect memory, judgment and mood. Following a regular sleep routine calms and restores the body, improves concentration, regulates mood and sharpens your judgement and decision making.  

So how’s that for good news? There’s a lot you can do to take stress down a notch.

But wait … it gets even better than this. Some researchers have suggested that exposure to a moderate level of stress that you can master can actually make you stronger and better able to manage stress in the long run.

When you experience a stressful situation the prefrontal cortex of your brain releases a slew of fight or flight chemicals that are designed for one purpose - to keep you alive. Funny thing about your prefrontal cortex though, is that it can’t differentiate between a bear attacking you or standing in front of a crowd of people to present a 4-H speech. It sees both as the same threat and your brain starts telling your body to get the heck outta there! 

The good thing about the chemicals released by your prefrontal cortex is that they only last in your body for approximately 90 seconds. That’s right, if you can live with them for just a minute and a half they’ll subside and let you think clearly once more. Then you can put your mind to work FOR you. Replace those negative, fearful, unhelpful thoughts with positive, truthful thoughts that encourage you to push through the fear to a place where you can learn something new, stretch your limits, and grow your current capabilities into something more.

So there you have it. Don’t let stress get the better of you … 

Keep Calm and Speak On!

This year Sophie wanted to write about the challenges that resulted in her life from covid and how she was inspired by two other amazing women ...


I’m not supposed to be here. This speech, here, in this room, on this camera - SO not in my plans for this year. Nope, I’m supposed to be packing to leave for culinary school in Ireland. Getting ready for the epic adventure of my life. But here I am, only dreaming the dreams of Ireland while living the reality of COVID.

Bet you didn’t know you were invited to a party today … my pity party that is. That’s the only kind of party that we’re allowed to have these days. But as crazy as this past year has been for everyone, is it really all that bad?  

Let me introduce you to two extraordinary women who turned the most extreme of difficult beginnings into something amazing.

Anne Sullivan was born in 1866 in Massachusetts.

At 5 years old she contracted a bacterial infection that caused her to go almost completely blind.

At 8 years old her mother died of tuberculosis.

At 10 years old her father abandoned her and her siblings and she was sent with her younger brother to live in an institution in deplorable conditions where her brother also died of tuberculosis and where she endured 3 unsuccessful eye operations.

You would think that being faced with these situations, especially at such a young age would break a person, but not Anne. She pleaded with the institution’s inspector to be allowed to attend the Perkins school for the Blind and at 14 years old her request was granted. It took some time but she eventually excelled in her studies at Perkins and also had 2 successful eye operations that improved her vision.

At 20 years old she graduated as valedictorian of her class and inspired her classmates with the following words: “Duty bids us go forth into active life. Let us go cheerfully, hopefully, and earnestly, and set ourselves to find our especial part. When we have found it, willingly and faithfully perform it; for every obstacle we overcome, every success we achieve tends to bring man closer to God and make life more as He would have it.”

Overcome and achieve she did! And then she poured her life and optimism into the lives of others. One in particular: Helen Keller - which is a name you might be more familiar with.

Helen Keller was born in 1880 onto her family’s cotton plantation. At only 18 months of age she contracted an unknown illness, possibly meningitis or scarlet fever that left her both deaf and blind. She was a child locked inside the prison of her own body, feeling as though she were ‘at sea in a dense fog’ as she says in her autobiography. Almost completely unable to communicate with the people around her, her parents searched for some way to improve her life, communicate with her and educate her. Which led them eventually to Alexander Graham Bell who was working with the blind at that time. He directed them to the Perkins School for the Blind where the school director introduced them to Anne Sullivan who became Helen’s teacher. From here a lifelong companionship was forged and Anne persevered in opening the world to Helen.  

Helen Keller is best known for her literary works and inspiring speeches, writing 12 books during her lifetime and travelling the world advocating for people with disabilities.  

Two incredible women, with astounding tenacity and indomitable spirit.

BUT back to me and my “hardships”. Well during my pity party, I stumbled across a quote by Helen Keller that made me stop in my tracks …

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”

There I was, standing, staring at the closed door of my dream. Frustrated and angry with an unchangeable situation. Failing to see any other opportunities for disappointment of the one lost to me. That quote woke me up to my situation. Isn’t it funny how a single moment of clarity can change the whole scope of your thinking almost instantaneously? I’m still hoping that my door to Ireland will open again but I’m no longer stuck staring at it. Instead, I’ve turned my attention to new doors that have been opened for me and set my sights on new adventures for the meantime. I’ve just moved into my first apartment, started a job that I’m really excited about and am busy getting the next stage of my life underway. Thank you Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller.

Most of us will never have to live the kind of circumstances that Helen and Anne had to overcome. But seeing those who have suffered so mightily and have overcome so much, with such grace and courage inspires us to think about what is actually possible for our own lives. Helen wrote so many inspirational words of wisdom that it’s hard to choose which of her quotes is my favourite but I will leave you with one that I hope speaks to you as it speaks to me.  

“The marvelous richness of human experience would lose something of rewarding joy if there were no limitations to overcome. The hilltop hour would not be half so wonderful if there were no dark valleys to traverse.”

Joy Stephens

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