Looking forward with your livestock 4-H club

Recognize successes, set SMART goals and achieve club success each year with the help of MSU Extension resources.

Club planning helps to ensure successful livestock experiences.
Club planning helps to ensure successful livestock experiences.

Across the country, the 4-H calendar changes based on local, statewide and even national events. One thing that doesn’t change is the need to have a plan for your 4-H club. Whether the club is a community club, project-based club or SPIN club, setting goals for your club will help youth and volunteer leaders get the most out of their experience. For clubs with youth raising and exhibiting animals, it becomes increasingly important to have a plan to increase youth knowledge and understand the animal industry. Michigan State University Extension has resources to help club and teen leaders achieve success in their upcoming year.

Achievements from and review of 2016

Before setting goals, it is important to know what you have already achieved. Fairs are one of our most visible community outreach events, but not the only measure of how and where achievements are recognized. Big or small, accomplishments should be celebrated as a club to continue supporting each member.

Set club goals

Lewis Carroll once wrote, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” Just like determining which route to take on the road, 4-H clubs need guidance to route their club on a path that will engage and excite members. Goal setting is an important task to ensure members and the club have something to reach for.

Meaningful goals are most easily set by using SMART goals as described in the MSU Extension article, “Smart goals help you achieve success.” The article discusses how to set specific, measurable, achievable and relevant goals and a time period for the completion of these goals. To help you in your process, use the Smart Goals Worksheet.

Use resources to help increase awareness and education

MSU Extension and Michigan 4-H have many resources that can teach important animal management and life skills, as well as help guide clubs to achieving their goals. Two resources that may be helpful for clubs with livestock exhibitors are the Youth Business Guide to Success and Animal Science Anywhere lessons.

  • Youth Business Guide to Success is intended for teaching 12-to-19-years-old with a focus in life skill development. This curriculum is designed to engage youth in the marketing and advertising portion of the animal project. Through the lessons, youth will explore and practice skills relating to animal production and management through the experiential learning process. Youth will be encouraged to make the most out of their 4-H market animal project experience. The curriculum is available online for purchase at MSU Extension bookstore.
  • Animal Science Anywhere lesson series is designed to help 4-H volunteers and teen leaders engage 4-H youth at club meetings or events in learning more about the science and life skills involved in animal and veterinary science projects. The lessons are laid out with a full list of materials and are written to help leaders with varying degrees of expertise on the topics. Each lesson costs $10 and youth may work in teams or individually to accomplish the lesson objectives. Lessons are flexible, providing adaptations for various locations, ages and audiences. More lessons are added throughout the year, but currently there are 17 free lessons available.

With a plan, you and your club can reach your goals through the year to track your own success.

Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan 4-H Youth Development program help to create a community excited about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). 4-H STEM programming seeks to increase science literacy, introducing youth to the experiential learning process that helps them to build problem-solving, critical-thinking and decision-making skills. Youth who participate in 4-H STEM content are better equipped with critical life skills necessary for future success. To learn more about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H youth in STEM literacy programs, read our 2015 Impact Report: “Building Science Literacy and Future STEM Professionals.”

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