UMass Denies 4-H Kids Program

2/23/17 Update

Update on the youth shooting sports - gun safety - outdoors program. We are pleased to announce that the youth program is moving forward as a joint venture between the MA Division of Fisheries and Wildlife and GOAL. It is apparent that the social bias from UMass against gun owners and their families will not subside and is clouding their judgment.” Said GOAL Executive Director Jim Wallace, instead we are moving forward with a joint venture with the Division”

GOAL would like to note that we are continuing to work with the legislature towards moving this important program forward. Also of note, GOAL will be discussing other possibilities for youth development with state officials.

We would like to thank Jack Buckley and the Division for taking up the baton and recognizing all of the benefits this will bring to our youth. GOAL would also like to thank Mandy Deveno, our membership, and all of the people who have taken action to move the youth program forward. Stay tuned for more to come!


Over the last few days you may have seen news stories about UMass denying the implementation of a fully funded 4-H program for kids which teaches gun safety, shooting sports and outdoor activities including hunting. These stories were all spawned by our press release, copied below. The University of Massachusetts is yet to explain why they denied this program.

Today we are asking you to contact your legislators and use your social media to spread the word about our efforts to make Massachusetts the 49th state to implement the 4-H Shooting Sports Program.

4-H Talking Points

  • We are disappointed that UMass made the decision to deny this program because of a social bias against gun owners and their families.
  • The 4-H program is highly successful in 48 states, fully funded, and volunteer run. There is no reason to deny this program, the university only needed to give the program a thumbs up.
  • The 4-H program include hunting education and outdoor activities, it also teaches leadership and youth development.
  • MA Fisheries & Wildlife is a partner in the program and has pledged $180,000 to fund the first three years of the program.

Action Items

  • Contact your state senator and state representative, ask that they contact the Agriculture Committee and the Higher Education Committee to encourage them to hold an oversight hearing, see recommended conversation below.
  • Click here to contact your legislator or call 617-722-2000, then ask for your state rep or senator.
  • Please use social media (see below) to amplify our message.
  • UMass alumni should contact the UMass alumni association – They should express support for the 4-H program and ask that the association request that the university reconsiders the decision to deny the program.

Phone Conversation:

Dear Rep/Senator ______________________________ I wanted to express my disappointment that UMass denied a great youth program that teaches leadership and safety, something that is needed more now than ever. This decision was likely made because of a social bias against gun owners and their families and I hope that UMass can be convinced to OK the program. I would like you to contact the Agriculture Committee and the Higher Education Committee to ask them to hold an oversight hearing on this matter as soon as possible.

Social Media Activation

Twitter: Tweet @UMass – use hashtags #Support4H and #UMass4H. Suggested tweet: .@UMass please reconsider 4-H youth program today! #Support4H #UMass4H (make sure you add the period before the @ symbol so everyone can see it)

Facebook: Please post info about this on Facebook, something along the lines of: “I am really disappointed that UMass has denied this 4-H shooting sports program please join me in contacting the MA legislature to encourage an oversight hearing to find out why, and also please check out this article from the Boston Globe:”


Download the photo below – tag @UMass in the photo and use the same language as in the tweet.

GOAL's Press Release:

BOSTON – The Gun Owners’ Action League of Massachusetts today blasted UMASS officials for stopping the launch of a statewide 4-H program for kids throughout the Commonwealth that would teach gun safety and promote youth shooting sports. Massachusetts is one of only two states that do not run a 4-H Youth Shooting Sports program.

“This move by UMASS makes absolutely no sense,” said Jim Wallace, Executive Director of GOAL. “The only reason to avoid implementing this program is because UMASS has a social bias against gun owning families and their children. Is that a justifiable reason to deprive kids of a great program – GOAL doesn’t think so! We have a fully funded program for youth ready to go. It will teach them responsibility, a very popular outdoor recreational sport, a competitive sport for which they can earn a college scholarship, and be able to socialize and meet youth from around the Commonwealth.”

Startup funding of $60,000 for the program was promised by the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) for three consecutive years to support a 4-H Shooting Sports Coordinator position and training at UMASS. The program is also backed by the UMASS 4-H Foundation that supports the fundraising and development efforts for the statewide program. In total the program would have supported over 1,000 youth at more than 50 outdoor locations across the state.

“It’s disturbing to think that our Massachusetts state college system would not support a highly successful program run by 48 other state colleges across our nation,” said Mandy Deveno, a Massachusetts 4H volunteer and a proponent of the Youth Shooting Sports Program. “It’s clear that UMass doesn’t want to be associated with the positive use of firearms.”

4-H is a 100-year old youth development program run by the UMASS Amherst Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment. It is part of a nationwide program connected to each state’s land-grant institution of higher education.