Good 4-H animal project sportsmanship guidelines

Consider these sportsmanship guidelines for your animal science project this summer, as well as nominating a 4-H member or leader for the Michigan 4-H Animal Science Sportsperson of the Year Award.

Sportsmanship is developed at a young age through life experiences and positive reinforcement from parents, caring adults or coaches. It is important to recognize youth and adults that are going above and beyond when it comes to being good sports.

It is getting close to fair season and that means youth will be competing at county fairs and animal shows around the state with their 4-H projects. Let’s review some sportsmanship guidelines so all youth and adults have positive experiences this summer.

Good 4-H animal project sportsmanship is defined as:

  • Displaying respect for animals. This mean exercising good animal management through proper healthcare and nutrition, as well as fair training practices. Animals deserve humane treatment in exchange for what they provide.
  • Displaying respect for opponents. Sportsmanlike competitors recognize and appreciate a well-prepared, challenging opponent who can bring out the best in them and share that appreciation with their opponents.
  • Displaying respect for the “game.” This includes respecting and following the rules of the event. It also includes always trying one’s best, using skill and training to achieve positive results and appreciating the training process.
  • Displaying respect for others. Judges, show managers, parents, trainers, coaches and leaders deserve respect as well. If you are feeling frustrated, it is important to find an appropriate location and time to vent or show this frustration.

Exhibiting good sportsmanship is not just for youth 4-H members, it applies to everyone involved, including volunteers, parents, leaders and others.

In 2015, Michigan 4-H Youth Development developed an award called the Michigan 4-H Animal Science Sportsperson of the Year Award. This award is open to any 4-H member or leader in Michigan involved with an animal project. Nominations for this award will be taken all summer long until Oct. 1. An application and two letters of recommendation need to be submitted to be considered for this award.

To learn more about how 4-H teaches sportsmanship and builds character, contact your local Michigan State University Extension county office to find a 4-H program near you. 

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