Ellis county law suit

September 17, 2009, Posted by Brio Guy at 1:45 am

The other night Monday September 15, 2009 I witnessed something I thought would never happen in 4-H… “Ellis county 4-H could have a lawsuit”. Here is some background about 4-h for those of you who do not know what it is or what they stand for.  The 4-H motto is: “to make the best better”

4-H Pledge

I pledge:
My Head to clearer thinking,
My Heart to greater loyalty,
My Hands to larger service, and
My Health to better living,
For my club, my community,
My country and my world.

4-H is a very beneficial program that has many things to offer the youth of America. As a member of 4-H I have competed in many competitions some of which include Food and Nutrition, food and nutrition quiz bowl, poultry, horse, photography, etc. I have gone from competing at county level all the way to state and even attending 2 national events. I volunteered in many youth development programs, leadership, and community activities. I believe that I owe part of my 4-H success to Dianne Bailey who was our extension agent. She was a wonderful lady who pushed us all to succeed and strive for nothing but the best.  Because of this I wanted to instill what 4-H stood for into other youth. At the end of each year every 4-H’er has the opportunity to complete a record book. A record book is the highlights and achievements one has completed thus year. From personal experience I can say it is a lot of hard work and one will learn various tools while completing a record book. During a 4-Her’s last 4 years in highschool if they complete four record books one each year they will receive a scholorship. This is one of the biggest reasons 4-Hers do record books!

As mentioned previously I wanted to instill into other youth what Dianne had in me and I did. One of the people I got highly involved in 4-H was a girl named Chelsea Merritt. She was highly active in her county, became president of her club, vice president on the county council,  competed in many 4-H activities, competed in state competitions, completed 4 record books, she even won the gold star highest award that the ellis county 4-H has.

Becasue the office was moving into a different part of the building only 1 notice was sent out about the “record book scholarship” which is actually called the adult leader scholarship. Due to some confusion Chelsea Merritt did not know she needed to fill out this form in order to receive this scholorship she found out a day late that this form needed to be filled out to receive the scholorship. She filled it out anyways and ended up turned it in 2 days late. The Adult Leadership committee which consisted of 3 adults decided not to award Chelsea the scholarship. On a personal note it amazes me to see parents who have to live through their children becasue they did not ammount to what they had wanted when they were younger…

“Monday Ellis County 4-H Leaders Association held a meeting in which two motions were made with regards to the 4-H scholarship:

•  Motion for the deadline of the 2008-2009 “Adult Leader Scholarship Application” be extended to July 31, 2009. As there were no instructions, descriptions or forms made known in the 4-H newsletter, emails or phone calls. This would enable the only other student to whom the scholarship applies to receive their scholarship.

7 votes yes to 11 votes against the motion – motion failed

I sat there listening as adults stated “Your daughter made a mistake and she should have to pay for it. I am glad this happened to your child its a hard lesson I know but it will prepare her for this cold world”, “Your teaching your child it is ok to break rules”, “I have children in 4-H and we are able to keep up its not my fault you and your family cant”… As I sat there listening to all these remarks being made I was astonished! I thought this program was supposed to be dedicated to “making the best better”… The part that amazed me the most was that the extension agent Page Bishop did not even stand up for Chelsea Merritt. A girl who has been dedicated and highly active in Ellis County for 6 years! Not only did he not say anything for her behalf he actually pointed out the county did nothing wrong and her wrong doing. (My thought is yes everythign has a deadline and should be followed, but everything also has an extension. IE: Taxes, school applications, etc. If you pay your taxes late you have a penalty why not just deduct $100 or something…)

•  Motion for an addendum to be made for the “Adult Leader Scholarship Application” by-laws to include:

        o  A phone call to each senior (as done in the past) notifying them of the scholarship, where to find the application and the application deadline.

        o  Two months prior to the “Adult Leadership Scholarship Application” deadline a notice is required to be placed in the CloverLeaf Newsletter explaining what the scholarship is (no information was given this year), where to find the application (no URL was given this year), the deadline for the scholarship application and a posting of the scholarship application requirements (there is none currently available offline or online unless you know to ask someone from the committee to send you a copy).

6 votes yes to 9 votes against the motion – motion failed

The second motion was denied with adults stating “If we put specifics in the bylaws Ellis County might be liable for a lawsuit“. My thought is ok 1. As long as the county informs the members they are not liable. 2. What if they do sue Ellis County… Whats going to happen the judge makes them award that 4-H member with a $500 scholarship that they earned. As long as the bylaws are followed which is what they are there for nothing can happen to you.

The end result is that Chelsea was ripped off from the $500.00 scholarship that she earned in 4-H. Despite all the discussions regarding how important rules are the that will allow this situation to repeat itself again and again, year after year to other unsuspecting families. It breaks my heart.association decided to not give themselves any rules for informing the youth about how they can earn and receive the scholarship. It was a defeat”

My conclusion is this, since I have graduated I have noticed a significant lower amount of people enrolling into 4-H. It is my belief that becasue parents who have to live thru their children and situations like this cause youth want not to be involved in 4-H. Whats even more depressing is I have witnessed rules being bent for other individuals, deadlines being extended so individuals could participate, deadlines being closed early so individuals did not have to compete against others.  Apparently this is what Ellis County is teaching the youth of today “that it is ok for some people to make mistakes and we will excuse it but not ok for others”.

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