Tips for 4-H project selection

Choosing the right 4-H project better positions youth for success.

As we begin a new 4-H year, youth have the opportunity to grow through adding new projects to their 4-H resume. Choosing a new project and seeing it through to completion may be a difficult task, but with the proper support from parents, volunteers and 4-H staff, youth can complete their chosen projects and learn many valuable life lessons.

It is very easy to start a task, but often times finishing it is a completely different story. Project completion is important because it gives youth an opportunity to start a challenging task and the satisfaction of finishing it. Research stemming from Extension specialists in West Virginia found that project completion is defined by a three-fold process:

  1. A project exhibit
  2. A project booklet or use of curriculum
  3. 4-H activity record book

It is important that all three processes are included in a 4-H project in order to deem it a completed project. Michigan State University Extension offers the following advice on helping youth select an appropriate project in order to foster completion.

When selecting a project to participate in, it is best when parents and 4-H leaders work closely with youth to assess their abilities, resources and interests, and find a project that is compatible with those factors. When the youth and project are compatible, the chance of project completion is greatly increased because the basic elements of project support are present.

4-H leaders and Extension staff must choose teaching techniques that help 4-H members to learn. The Experiential Learning Model is one method of instruction that helps youth do a project, reflect on what they did and apply the skills they learned to other areas in their lives. Additionally, parents have a large influence on whether or not youth complete their projects. Educating parents about their influence on the level of achievement reached by their child is critical.

MSU Extension has developed numerous Michigan 4-H Snapshot Sheets that can help families explore a variety of project areas youth can be involved in from animals to robotics. These snapshots highlight the content knowledge, skills youth can learn and opportunities in that specific project.

Every youth has the potential to be successful in any project they choose if they have the proper support from caring adults who are active in building youth’s knowledge and skills within a project.

To learn more about Michigan 4-H Animal Science Programs, please visit the Michigan 4-H website.

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