Fairs Provide Life Skills for 4-H Youth
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County and state fair exhibits and entries are some of the most recognizable elements of 4-H youth development in our county and state program. According to Michigan State University Extension, “fair is a culmination of many weeks, months or even a year’s worth of learning, creating and discovering through 4-H experiences. For years there have been many different opinions about the purpose of county fairs in regard to the 4-H program. It may not be the fair itself that is so important to the program, but the entire package.”
At the NC State Fair there are over 100 categories for 4-H youth to enter in to compete in the areas of crafts, photography, and visual displays for youth 5-18 years of age. Youth also compete in the areas of livestock and poultry. Through these 4-H projects “youth may learn leadership as they take on roles within their club such as club officer or chair of a committee. They may learn empathy or understanding as they learn about others’ challenges or about youth from another part of the community. Youth learn teamwork and character building as they work together with their club toward common goals.Youth who raise animals may learn self-discipline and responsibility as they take care of a living thing that depends on them every day for their welfare. During the judging process, a youth may have to explain their project to a judge, which helps to develop their social and interview skills. During times of disappointment or excitement, they will learn things such as good sportsmanship, managing their feelings or being concerned for others.”(Michigan State University, 2018)
Beyond life-skill development there are countless memories and friendships made during these long and rewarding days at the fair. 4-H alumni often reminisce about their days showing at the fair or helping with fair entry check in. For our Moore County youth it is much the same. This year the Moore County 4-H program had several youth members and 4-H clubs participate in both the Moore County Fair and the NC State Fair. The Dare to be Different 4-H Club, Growing Farmers 4-H Club, and Moore County 4-H Ponies of the Pines Club all participated in the 4-H display booths at the Moore County Fair. While individual4-H members entered items into competition areas such as crafts, hobbies, livestock and much more. The Growing Farmers 4-H Club assisted in the livestock barn preparation day and also helped throughout the week working in shifts to provide animal checks and cleaning for the fair each day.
Following the Moore County Fair many Moore County 4-H youth go on to compete at the NC State Fair in the areas of livestock and poultry, 4-H crafts and photography, and hobbies and handicrafts general competitions. For these youth this will be an exciting and rewarding summation of the hard work they have put in throughout the year, and they will come away with new and strengthened life-skills built through hands-on experiential learning. This type of learning helps youth develop belonging and competence and become engaged leaders in their communities. It leaves a lasting impression, and creates memories and friendships that will last a lifetime.
“Why are fairs so important to 4-H?.” Michigan State University. November 28, 2018.