FAIRBANKS — Have you heard of the “Code of the West?” It’s not just for cowboys anymore.

I attended a professional development conference workshop and learned of a teacher in Denver, who used the Code of the West to make principles to live by and was teaching them to inner-city kids.

The kids were apprehensive at first, as they are not cowboys and wanted nothing to do with them. As the principles were taught and discussed, the kids’ attitudes changed. They began to quote the principles to others and changed their actions. 

During this workshop, we discussed these principles and what they mean to us. I want to share them with you and ask you introduce a youth to them. I also want to challenge you and a youth to set at least one New Year’s goal and incorporate it into your lives.

Ten principles to live by:

1. Live each day with courage.

2. Take pride in your work.

3. Always finish what you start.

4. Do what has to be done.

5. Be tough, but fair.

6. When you make a promise, keep it.

7. Ride for the brand.

8. Talk less and say more.

9. Remember that some things aren’t for sale.

10. Know where to draw the line.

After our discussion, we were challenged to come up an 11th principle. Mine that day was, “Stuff happens.”

We know what that means, but how we deal with it makes or breaks us. I have thought of other principles, and I am sure I will have many more. So what is your 11th principle? 

Please take my challenge and find a youth you can mentor. You never know the impact you can have on a young person’s life. Reach deep and help them understand these principles.

There are many different things to experience and many young people who are looking for a mentor they can look up to. Whether you are in 4-H or not, I encourage you to stop and think of the positive experiences you can provide a child.

To learn more about Cowboy Ethics, go to www.cowboyethics.org. At www.cowboyethics.org/Classroom.php, you will find the information and some video clips about the Denver teacher and her program.

To learn more about the 4-H program, contact Marla Lowder, UAF Cooperative Extension Service, Tanana District 4-H and Youth Development agent, at 474-2427 or mklowder@alaska.edu. The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, working in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.