County fairs encourage competition among 4-H participants

4-H youth learn many life skills during county fairs, including competition.

When 4-H members get ready to show at the local county fair, one of the life skills they learn is the lesson of competition. With competition in a variety of 4-H events, youth start to acquire life skills that will help them become successful adults in the future.

At the start of a 4-H club year, youth have the chance to begin learning about goals and goal setting. Discussion among club members and volunteer leaders might be, “What do I want to learn this year?” or “What types of projects do I want to do in my club?” Setting goals gives youth a sense of purpose they can work towards to complete a project. This can also work in other settings for youth or anyone that starts out on some type of project. Define the goal, list the steps and start the process. Learning these life skills is a good start. Setting a goal in the 4-H program means youth are listing what they want to accomplish – the skill and the project. Being successful at the end of the project is what is important.

Youth taking their projects to the county fair will be in some type of competition. Whether it is showing in an open class or with other 4-H members, ribbons, trophies and other types of awards are given out. Being in competitive events, youth are able to share what they have learned. Youth will have the opportunity to answer questions from the judges. This enhances their public speaking skills. Knowledge gained by attending clinics, workshops and other educational programs will help youth answer questions and learn the correct ways to finish their project.

Young people will also learn success and disappointment at the same time, but this is where the caring volunteer leaders can be good role models and encourage youth no matter how they placed in the competition. Questions after the competition can be related to all ages of youth, such as, “What skills do I need for competing to do a better job next time?” “How did it feel to do this activity/project” “How did you handle the competition in your class?” “What would you do differently?”

Attending the fair is not only fun, but youth learn many life skills that will help them become successful. For more information regarding 4-H, please contact your local Michigan State University Extension county office.

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