A Grand Champion Fair Experience


As I write this, the Clay County Fair is in full-swing and the Fillmore County Fair about to begin, so this article highlights some interesting findings about what youth enjoy the most during a county fair experience. Every county fair, provides 4-H youth across the state with an opportunity to showcase the project work that they have completed throughout the year and to receive recognition for their efforts.

Model rockets that have been assembled from basic materials, cookies that will make your mouth water, sheep that are sheared for the big show, and many other exhibits can most likely be seen at your local county fair. Through these projects, youth develop self-confidence by experiencing success at solving problems and meeting challenges. County fairs provide a safe environment for youth to make mistakes and to receive constructive feedback, not only through competition, but also through their participation.

4-H youth look forward to the county fair because of the fun that this time of year brings. In a recentimg_5911.jpg study, many youth reported that they are motivated each year to participate in the county fair because they have fun. Whether showing a market steer, modeling a garment in the Fashion Revue, or exhibiting a GIS map of a local park, youth across all project areas compete and participate in the county fair activities because they are fun.

Youth also shared that “achieving goals,” “spending time with friend,” and “teamwork” contributed toward their engagement in the annual county fair. Recognition, competition, fair premiums, and qualifying for the state fair ranked low in comparison to these other motivating factors.

Important educational youth development opportunities also exist within the 4-H fair experience. By completing 4-H projects and activities at the local fair and throughout the year, youth are mastering skills to make positive career and life choices. It is important for youth to discover in a non-threatening setting that certain vocations may or may not be right for them.

Give 4-H youth at your local county fair a grand champion experience by providing constructive feedback and encouragement. Your words and actions will allow youth to discover their own personal strengths and weaknesses through their 4-H project areas, all while having fun in a positive county fair environment.

Source: Eric Stehlik, Extension Assistant in Saline County. This article comes from a series of resources developed by 4-H Youth Development professionals.

Uncategorized, Youth

4-H Teaches Life Skills

The 4-H youth development program uses resources of the land-grant university and the time, talent, and dedication of Extension staff, screened and hardworking leaders and volunteers to teach youth life skills. Nebraska 4-H engages youth through 4-H programs and activities by building positive youth relationships between youth and adults and providing needed support for youth to develop their strengths. Through development of positive partnerships and development of strengths, 4-H programs in Nebraska are developing life skills that help youth become competent when they transition from child to adulthood. A skill is a learned ability and life skills are competencies that assist people in functioning well in the environments in which they life.Kick off graphic 2017.jpg

The life skills model for 4-H as developed by Hendricks (1998) is used in Nebraska. This 4-H framework incorporates the four “H’s” of the clover, head, heart, hands and health. The skills are grouped as they follow below:

HEAD. Thinking skills are as broken down as follows: Learning to learn, decision-making, problem solving, critical thinking, and service learning.
Managing skills are as follows: Goal setting, planning/organizing, wise use of resources, keeping records, and resiliency.

HEART. Relating skills are as follows: Communications, cooperation, social skills, conflict resolution, and accepting differences.
Skills that promote caring include: concern for others, empathy, sharing, nurturing, and relationships.

HANDS. Skills that enhance giving are community service/volunteering, leadership, responsibility, and contribution to a group.
Skills that promote working are: marketable/useable skills, teamwork and being self-motivated.

HEALTH. Living skills youth learn include: healthy life-style choices, stress management, disease prevention and personal safety.
Skills that teach youth a sense of being are: self-esteem, self-responsibility, character, managing feelings and self-discipline.

Uncategorized, Youth

Get Involved!

One of the many great things about the 4-H Youth Development program is the family time that often occurs. Whether it is working on a project, attending club meetings together, working at 4-H events or learning more about their projects, the opportunity for family involvement is huge! As a youth myself, I remember countless hours of my Dad helping me with my 4-H calves and lots of hours of time spent on sewing, gardening and craft projects with my mom. My grandma4H family wordle taught me so much about baking and that is where I developed my love of making yeast breads and rolls. At the time, I thought I was just learning about projects to take to the fair, but I was actually learning life skills that have benefitted me even now. My colleague, Eric Stehlik from Saline County shared with me information on more benefits youth obtain from family involvement with their activities.

Becoming involved in children’s 4-H activities is a great way for families to grow and develop. Whether parents are attending club meetings or teaching their children about animal care, rocketry or entrepreneurship, they are helping to build stronger relationships and families.

Research shows that young people need caring relationships with adults to help them grow and develop positively. Parents can build these relationships by becoming involved in their children’s activities. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and other extended family members should become involved too because they also play important roles in the lives of children.

4-H’ers participate in a variety of individual and group projects, and family members can be a part of these learning experiences. If a participant is enrolled in foods and nutrition, a family member can teach them proper food safety. This can then easily become a part of daily life. Just interacting and communicating can help family members learn more about each other and grow closer.

Families can also benefit from participating in 4-H community service projects. They can help with a food drive by donating supplies from their own cupboards, asking neighbors for a donation or making a cash donation to the local food pantry. What matters is that families do these activities together. Not only will family members have fun, but also they will help their community and grow closer together, all at little or no cost!

Uncategorized, Youth

4-H Youth Development Impacts

The mission of Nebraska 4-H is to empower youth to reach their full potential working and learning in partnership with caring adults. Nebraska 4-H strives to help young people achieve their greatest potential by introducing high-quality youth development experiences into the lives of Nebraska youth and families. Engagement in 4-H results in youth who are making positive decisions related to their health and their future goals. Further, they are advocates and leaders determined to leave a lasting impact on Nebraska communities. By taking part in Nebraska 4-H, youth are preparing for a successful future by focusing on 4-H Science, Agricultural Literacy, Career Development and College Readiness, Citizenship and Leadership, and Healthy Living.

4-H’ers have planted a community garden and given the fresh produce to the local food pantry and a local Senior Center.

In Nebraska, 1 in 3 age-eligible youth across all 93 counties are enrolled in 4-H, for a total enrollment reaching approximately 140,000 youth. Nearly 56,000 youth participated in school enrichment experiences. Over 25,000 Nebraska youth were members of a 4-H club. Nearly 8,000 youth and adults participated in 4-H camping programs. 12,000 volunteers share their time and resources with Nebraska 4-H.

Locally, in 2015 we had 204 youth enrolled in the Fillmore County 4-H program and nearly 400 youth were reached through school enrichment or agricultural literacy based programs. February is Nebraska 4-H Month and ALL youth and their families are invited to attend the Annual 4-H Kick-Off celebration on February 21st from 5-7:00 p.m. at the Fillmore Co. fairgrounds to learn more about 4-H and kick off the 2016 year. kickoff2016The event will showcase 4-H projects, information on the upcoming year, games and 4-H fun. All attendees will be invited to participate in multiple mini projects including fishing, animal science, face painting and more! Did I mention there will be inflatables? As well as, pictures with Lil’ Green and prizes galore! Concessions available.