Colorado 4-H Director Wins National Humane Award for Animal Welfare, Ethics Programs for Kids

Jeff Goodwin, director of Colorado 4-H, has been awarded the Humane Award by the American Veterinary Medical Association. The award recognizes humane efforts on behalf of animals and exceptional compassion for the welfare of animals by a non-veterinarian or non-veterinary association.

     Goodwin received the award because of his pioneering work to foster ethics-based decision making skills for youth participating in 4-H livestock programs. Called one of the most progressive Cooperative Extension professionals in the country by the AVMA, Goodwin has focused his career on educating youth about the principles of animal welfare and good animal husbandry.

      "Jeff has facilitated discussion and education about livestock show ethics across the nation. His work embodies the overarching goal of the 4-H program – to teach the young people of our nation to become adults with good character who contribute to society in an honest and productive way," said Marc Johnson, vice provost of Agriculture and Outreach at Colorado State University.

     Goodwin’s work on ethics and animal welfare have included numerous educational videos shown around the nation to 4-H’ers who raise animals and show them at county and state fairs. The videos, which Goodwin produced, address animal welfare, philosophy of animal use in our society and livestock show ethics. The videos are used in every state and several provinces in Canada to educate youth about ethical issues within agriculture and help them make ethical decisions based on animal and social welfare. Across the nation, 4-H has an enrollment of more than 7 million youth 9 to 19 years old across all 50 states.

"My motivation for addressing the issue of livestock show ethics is: If we teach a young person to make good choices in a livestock show, I contend that young person will be more likely to grow up and become an adult who makes good ethical choices in life," Goodwin said. "Likewise, if we teach a 4-H member to be deceptive and dishonest in their livestock project, I contend that young person will be more likely to become an adult who is deceptive and dishonest."

     In addition to developing and sharing educational videos about animal ethics, Goodwin has traveled extensively to visit 4-H employees and youth clubs to provide education about ethics and animal welfare. Goodwin has spoken about issues affecting agriculture in 43 states and also has lectured internationally.

     Animal issues that Goodwin addresses for 4-H’ers in his educational programs address questions ranging from the proper use of animal health products, to the hiring of professional animal fitters when competing in county fairs, to honest record keeping, to proper animal training methods.

     Goodwin received his bachelor’s in animal sciences and master’s in plant science from West Texas State University. His doctorial degree in agriculture education is from Texas A&M, where his research focused on animal welfare issues within agriculture. He also completed a special ranch management program at Texas Christian University.

     As the highest-ranking 4-H employee in the state, Goodwin oversees curriculum development for 4-H programs across the state. 4-H, an educational program for the nation’s youth, is America’s largest out-of-school education program for boys and girls. The program teaches youth life skills such as communication, leadership, global awareness, leadership and decision making through projects such as cooking, wildlife, archery, science, nutrition, livestock and many more.

The curriculum for the 4-H programs is provided by each state’s land-grant university, which in Colorado is Colorado State University. In Colorado, 59 counties offer the 4-H program.

The AVMA Humane Award was established in 1984. The recipient is selected by the AVMA executive board from nominees forwarded by the AVMA Council on Public Relations. The award consists of a Tiffany crystal sculpture and $500 in cash.

Previous winners include Colorado State University professor Temple Grandin in 1999.