Life skills learned at fair!

It is fair season and that means youth and adults are working hard getting projects ready to showcase around the state. What can youth gain from being a part of this experience?

Participating in a fair is a great way for youth to demonstrate skills that have been developed over the past year as well as to make new friends and form bonds with people who have similar interests.  Through the 4-H program, youth are developing life skills that will be used to become successful adults.  The fair is one experience, and event, for 4-H members to continue to develop and use their life skills learned.

The Michigan 4-H Youth Program has been using the Targeting Life Skill Model  as a guideline in making the connection between 4-H and life skills learned. 

Michigan State University Extension will explore some life skills youth may be gaining by participating at fair.

Problem Solving- Exhibitors at the fair have to learn how to solve lots of problems that may arise before and during fair.  One of these problems might be heat and weather challenges where their animal is not gaining the correct amount of weight. It could also be that youth exhibiting a decorated cake in the hot summer weather will have to deal with frosting melting.  As these situations arise, youth will have to find a solution in order to reach their goals of showing a nice project at the fair.

Decision Making- Washing your animal or hanging out with friends?  This is decision that may have to be made daily while at the fair. Youth have to make decisions like what to say when a judge asks them questions. This also gives youth practical experience in making decisions.

People/Social Skills- During the fair, youth are interacting with the public. Youth are developing people skills when the public stops to talk to them and ask questions while they are feeding or watering their animals. Youth are also developing people skills as they talk to judges or buyers looking to purchase their animals.  Learning to be friendly and have a positive attitude will also help develop social skills.

These few life skills were identified in a study called The impact of raising and exhibiting selected 4-H Livestock Projects on the developing of life and project skill by Purdue University. This study was published in the Journal of Agriculture Education.  

To learn more about Michigan 4-H Youth Programs and get youth involved in 4-H to help them develop life skills, visit your local MSU Extension office.

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