The Best 3d starter application!
Several years ago I used the Rhino 3.0 training books to teach my son the basics of 3d modeling. Now I plan to teach my daughter the same with Rhino 4.0.
Rhino gives you an understanding of the design and surfacing concepts that you can carry on to any other design or modeling application you desire. And with the increasing number of filetypes that Rhino can read and write to, there may not really be any reason to learn another application, except maybe for some advanced features.
All told, this is the Best modeling Software for the money. Hands Down!