4-H Animal Science programs teach youth marketable skills in real time

Opportunities in 4-H are more than just project-related. 4-H teaches youth skills that will help them stand out as adults.

Often times, we focus so much on the content 4-H teaches through various animal science project areas and forget about all of the skills youth are building that will help set them apart from their competition later on in the workplace. Marketable skills are essential in the adult working world and can help youth land their future dream jobs. Let’s take a look at five marketable skills 4-H helps youth develop.

  1. Work ethic. Youth involved in 4-H are constantly working towards a goal. Whether it is placing in the top of their class during competition or perfecting a skill they learned. The constant drive to achieve a goal will help 4-H members set themselves apart. During interviews, they can give real examples of when they have worked towards a goal.
  2. Adaptability. This is a skill anyone who has worked with animals hones in at a rapid pace. When working with animals, it seems that sometimes nothing goes as planned, so we adapt. 4-H members are able to assess a situation quickly and using the information they know, choose a plan B. In youths’ future careers, they will have an advantage because they are used to adapting their strategies in order to achieve success.
  3. Continued learning. Understanding that learning is a continual process is one of the foundations of animal science programs. 4-H members are adept at learning, especially in animal science programs. We start with the basics in our club meetings—body parts, working safely around animals and how to show that animal—and in a few short years, youth advance their knowledge into body systems, cutting-edge management techniques and genetics. Often times, it doesn’t stop there; youth continue to study, learn and grow in their knowledge. They understand the value that continued learning has.
  4. Networking. 4-H offers a unique way for youth and adults to build positive relationships. Volunteers model good relationship-building techniques and help youth learn how to maintain good working relationships. Along the 4-H journey, youth have a lot of opportunities to meet new people and develop those relationships, which they will likely find useful in their futures. They’ll be able to go to college and know other students from their 4-H experience, or work in an industry where they have a connection to leaders within it because of their 4-H experience. Those are the things that may prove to be invaluable.
  5. Passion. 4-H members are passionate about what they do. A members’ time, blood, tears, sweat, hopes and dreams all go into their projects each year with the goals of doing better than the previous year. Youth know exactly what passion looks and feels like and are able to exude that passion and share it with others.

Next time you think about 4-H animal science projects, don’t just take them at face value. Look deeper into the experiences and skills that are being gained and you will find they are immeasurable and will give youth a leg up on their future work place competition.

To learn more about the resources Michigan 4-H life skill development has to offer, please visit the Michigan State University Extension Life Skills page.

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