Michigan 4-H youth learn trustworthiness in showing livestock projects

Being honest and sincere shows character of trustworthiness in livestock exhibitions.

Through showing livestock with Michigan 4-H, youth learn what it means to be trustworthy. Trustworthiness is one of the pillars of the Josephson Institute of Ethics, CHARACTER COUNTS! education program. This is the sixth Michigan State University Extension article in the series, Showing Character lessons for those in livestock exhibition.

When young people show in the 4-H livestock project, individuals may think they just learn how to feed, prepare for show and take part in a county fair. But when it comes to developing life skills, an important piece is the opportunity for young people to learn, develop and practice positive character traits we have discussed.

When talking about trustworthiness, individual’s question, “what does this mean when showing livestock?” According to CHARACTER COUNTS!, trustworthiness means reliability, honesty, showing loyalty and being trustful. We display honesty in what we do, what we say and how we work with others. Examples of being trustworthy when showing our livestock projects is when individuals promise to feed and water their animals daily, only give them approved medications, maintain deadlines for sign-up and show and properly record tasks.

Maintaining birth records, the actual possession of animals, documenting beginning and ending weights, maintaining true ownership of an animal and talking honest and openly with other exhibitors are all part of trustworthiness.

A couple of suggested activities that an individual could incorporate with a 4-H club could be:

  1. Having each family member choose one trustworthy act and perform it daily. At the end of the week, discuss how this went and share with each other.
  2. Individuals could provide interview questions with youth and discuss the need of being honest in livestock showing and production. You could also have them share what rewarding experience they had and why.
  3. Youth could keep a journal and give examples of trustworthy behaviors.
  4. Youth could present skits that display trustworthiness at the county fair, 4-H club meetings and other types of exhibitions.
  5. Create posters showing all six pillars of the Josephson Institute of Ethics, CHARACTER COUNTS!

By learning different ways to be trustworthy, youth will learn to feel good about themselves. Being honest in what they say and do, showing loyalty towards others and their projects, keeping promises to all and showing integrity whether you win or lose, is all a part of trustworthiness.

The information shared in this article came from the Showing Character series developed by the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service 4-H.

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