Making good decisions in the livestock project area

We make decisions every day and youth have the opportunity to learn how to make good decisions in the livestock project areas.

Every day we make decisions, whether it is a planned decision or one that happens during a moment. In the Showing Character series for youth and adults, lesson plans have been discussed using the CHARACTER COUNTS! six pillars of developing character.

Trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, citizenship, caring and fairness are the six pillars of character that are taught and used in the livestock project area. There is also a seventh lesson plan that helps teach youth Decision Making.

In this article, Michigan State University Extension will discuss what an exhibitor could do in making good decisions within their project. There are three areas to help in making good decisions.

  1. The first one is on ethics. This is how we behave, knowing the difference between right and wrong. It means we have good values that help in our decision making, i.e. good choices and actions. As exhibitors, youth should practice self-control, standing up for what is right, doing something that they might not agree with, but that is the right decision.
  2. Stakeholders – This could be the funders of our program, a person, family member or future showmen. As an exhibitor, the decision we make could affect them.
  3. Making ethical decisions – The decisions we make can affect what we do in the future. We make decisions every day. We need to consider what decisions we make and if they affect our ethics and our stakeholders. Exhibitors should use the decision making process model that identifies the situation clearly, using the six pillars of character and by the decision we make: Will it help or harm those involved? Youth should also consider: Does it apply to the Golden Rule? That is, will you be proud of the decision made and will it make you feel good about yourself?

There are some tools that can help exhibitors make good decisions. Activities you can do with family or a 4-H club could be to watch a favorite television show and write down decisions they made and then discuss how each of you felt about those decisions. In a 4-H club setting, divide the participants into groups. Have each group represent what animal project they show in. Have each group then identify types of decisions they will make during their livestock projects – showing clinics, fair shows and other exhibitions. Then report back on what decisions were made and how they were discussed.

You can use scenarios like the following: You took possession of your hog three days after the possession date deadline. Your sponsor wants to document that you took possession before the deadline. What should you do? Another scenario – The livestock show is three weeks away. Your animal has exceeded the weight for the class you want it in. What will you do? Or your animal won grand champion and was bought by the owner of the local car dealership. What are your responsibilities regarding the buyer?

Making good decisions while participating in the Michigan 4-H  program can help you become a successful adult.

Michigan 4-H  programs offer information on all animal projects. You can find additional information by going to

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