Josephine County commissioners plan to cut 4-H funding over shirt dispute

JOSEPHINE COUNTY, Ore. – Josephine County commissioners have indicated they will cut funding for 4-H and other OSU Extension Programs.

The commissioners voted this week to end local tax funding to the OSU Extension Services in the county.  OSU Extension operates the 4-H program in Josephine County.

Commissioner John West says due to the vote not being noticed right, another vote will be held Wednesday.

West says the board is upset about an incident that happened last year involving a t-shirt.

According to West, a group of 4-H children were receiving financial and farm animal help through a religious after school program.  Those students then decided to wear shirts to a 4-H meeting displaying a religious cross.

“Those kids show up and the 4-H says ‘oh, the cross,” West told NBC5.  “She (a woman working for 4-H) said that we didn’t have a problem with their cross on their shirt, we had a problem with the size of the cross on their shirt.”

Lisa Parlette, Outreach Program Coordinator for 4-H in Josephine County, says the shirts were funded using club money.

“OSU has a religious neutrality clause,” Parlette explained.  “So we as an organization can’t require youth to be affiliated with a certain religion and we can’t require them to wear religious affiliated items at a club level.”

4-H denied other claims made by West that those children wearing the shirts were asked to change or turn the shirt inside out.

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Taylar Ansures is a producer and reporter for NBC5 News. Taylar is from Redding, California and went to California State University, Chico. After graduating, she joined KRCR News Channel 7 in Redding as a morning producer. She moved to Southern Oregon in 2022 to be closer to family and became KTVL News 10’s digital producer. Taylar is currently finishing her Master's Degree in Professional Creative Writing through the University of Denver. In her free time, Taylar frequents independent bookstores and explores hiking trails across Southern Oregon and Northern California.
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