The real cost of ribbons

Ribbons are a symbol of hard work and dedication. What are you willing to spend?

Fair season is upon us! That means thousands of youth across Michigan are taking part in competitions with their 4-H projects; the common denominator in all this competition is awards. The average flat placing ribbon costs $0.45 and the average rosette costs $5, but the following four attributes of successful people make what these ribbons symbolize priceless.

  1. Work ethic. To EARN a ribbon, youth have likely spent hundreds of hours working on their project. These hours have probably been filled with smiles, tears, frustration, challenges and a lot of sweat, but through it all youth learned the value of working hard towards their goal. That is a priceless lesson in life; having a solid work ethic will serve youth well in their futures.
  2. Perseverance. Nothing is PERFECT! Often times, especially in animal science programs, youth encounter setbacks, whether that is an injury to an animal, a training challenge or just about any other situation imaginable in a barn. There are so many things outside of our control, but we can control how we choose to deal with setbacks. Youth who have made it to the show despite the challenges have practiced and demonstrated perseverance, and that is priceless.
  3. Patience. Nothing great comes QUICKLY. Youth who develop patience through the process of their 4-H experience are at an advantage. In a world of instant gratification, patience and timing are truly a virtue. It takes time to grow and nurture animals, relationships and skills. Patience is priceless in the fast-paced world we live in.
  4. Integrity. The ability to cultivate an “HONESTY is the best policy” attitude, be a person of high character and set a good example for those around us is a defining attribute of a leader. In the midst of the roller coaster of emotions that competition produces, youth who can carry on with their project with integrity, knowing they played an honest and fair game to the best of their ability will always win. Fostering and demonstrating integrity is priceless.

Success can only be measured by the individual themselves; my measure of success may be very different from another person’s, and that is OK. The key is that success doesn’t happen by accident. It happens by a series of intentional choices, made daily to reach our goals.

Although ribbons have a monetary price, the lessons behind them are what really matter. This fair season, let us all take moments away from the chaos and reflect on the priceless attributes youth are developing through their 4-H projects, and celebrate their accomplishments with them.

To learn more about Michigan 4-H Animal Science Programs, please visit Michigan State University Extension’s 4-H Animal Science website.

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