4-H projects are tools for teaching young people life skills by developing their interests in certain areas. This is done through completing the following steps: 1) setting goals for learning, leadership, and citizenship, 2) planning and carrying out these goals; 3) keeping records about each project,and 4) then reflecting onthe project experience. Upon completion of these 4 steps, the 4-H project is said to be complete. It is possible to complete a 4-H project without a fair exhibit.
Exhibiting at fair without completing the steps above does not represent the goals of the 4-H program.
“Learn by Doing” is about creating an atmosphere where learning is fun. This is a basic philosophy of 4-H. The project is where learn-by-doing takes often place. Within the project, members find things to learn, to do, to make, and to explore.
A 4-H project is:
•Planned work in an area of interest to the 4-H member.
•Guided by a 4-H adult volunteer who is the project leader.
•Aimed at planned objectives that can be attained and measured.
•Summarized by some form of record keeping.
•A minimum of six hours of project instruction.
Each year, a 4-H member enrolls in at least one project. Members enrolling for the first time should be encouraged to take on only one project. As members gain experience, the size of the project may be increased or additional projects may be selected. Some project groups meet once a week. Others meet once or twice a month. The purpose of these meetings is to guide the members in gaining knowledge, attitudes, skills, and habits needed to complete their work successfully. Check with your county office to see which projects are currently being offered in your county. The availability of a project depends upon whether an adult volunteer is available to lead it.
4-H project enrollment assists youth to value and practice service to others. In 4-H we pledge our hands to larger service. In Kansas 4-H we say one of our life skills is developing a concern for the community. One of the eight essential Elements of 4-H is the Opportunity to value and practice service to others.
• Youth need to feel their lives have meaning and purpose.
• By participating in 4-H community service and citizenship activities, youth connect to communities and learn to give back to others.
HOW MANY PROJECTS CAN I TAKE?
There are so many projects offered, it can be hard to narrow down your selections. As you choose projects, consider how much time you have to devote to project work. It’s better to do a few projects really well than choose a lot and not have time to complete them. Also keep in mind that to truly master a project it may take you more than a year. You may enroll in the same project multiple years. Consider enrolling in projects you are familiar with as well as exploring projects that are new to you. When choosing projects, a general guideline for members who are 8-10 years of age is to be involved in about three projects. Those who are 11 and older could choose 3-6 projects. Every young person is different, so work with your club leader and county 4-H staff to find the projects that are the best fit for you and the number of projects that are a good fit for you and your family.
Some 4-H members will own or manage an animal for a 4-H project. For many of these projects, there are special requirements for competition, including deadlines for owning or managing the animal. Consult your local 4-H faculty for current deadlines. In addition, local fair boards or other partners might establish guidelines for participation. One of the objectives in owning an animal is to learn new skills in animal breeding, feeding, management and health. To accomplish this, the member should secure the animal as early in the year as possible. Livestock shows and exhibitions set up minimum dates for length of ownership necessary for exhibiting. For the Missouri State Fair, the dates are listed in the chart below.
PROJECT RECORD KEEPING
The 4-H Project Record should be used with all 4-H projects. The purpose of the 4-H Project Record form is to give you a tool to record information about your learning experience in each project. This record sheet is for you and your project leader to use to set goals, keep records of your work, expenses, community involvement, leadership and more. Ask any high school senior filling out scholarship forms how helpful 4-H record keeping is, and they will tell you how much work it saved them! Good record keeping will help you when applying for recognition and scholarships throughout your 4-H involvement.