Showing 4-H animals with character – Part 1

Having character in the show ring is just as important as having character at school or in the home.

Showing animals in the summer is a way for many kids in Michigan 4-H to show the public what projects they have been working on over the past year. Many fairs and shows are very competitive and exciting. It is important when working with youth who are showing animals to remind them that we must make sure their character is showing through as well.

Louisiana State University Research and Extension created the “Showing Character Curriculum” that uses the six pillars of Character from Josephine Institute of Ethics CHARACTER COUNTS! framework. The information below was taken from this curriculum.

This article will break down how youth can practice the pillars of character in trustworthiness, respect and responsibility when it comes to showing their project animals.

Trustworthiness means being honest, keeping promises, being loyal and having integrity. Some examples of displaying trustworthiness when showing include:  

  • Recording birth and possession dates of animals correctly.
  • Refusing to use dishonest practices in changing an animal’s appearance, size, weight or behavior.
  • Assuming responsibility for grooming and fitting of an animal by doing as much as they are capable of by themselves.
  • Doing the right thing at all times even if the right thing is not the popular thing to do. 
  • Displaying good character in losing or in winning.

Respect is treating others kindly and accepting differences. Some examples of being respectful when showing include:  

  • Living by the “Golden Rule:” treat other exhibitors, spectators and judges the way you would like to be treated.
  • Treating others with consideration – be courteous, polite and appreciative to adults and fellow exhibitors.
  • Being tolerant, respectful and accepting of those who show a different breed or species of animal.

Responsibility is an obligation or a duty. Some examples of behaving responsibly when showing include:  

  • Being responsible for the feed and care of your animals. Don’t make parents or siblings do it for you.
  • Turning in paperwork on time.
  • Developing knowledge and skills to help show and care for your animal.
  • Writing thank-you notes to buyers, trophy sponsors, leaders and others for all they have done for your experience.

In Michigan 4-H, our goal is to help youth develop skills and grow individually to become successful adults. Having good character is an important part of who we are and how to be successful in life. To learn more about this curriculum and activities to do with your youth that shows character, contactyour local Michigan State University Extension office.

The next article in this series will focus on teaching fairness, caring and citizenship to children through 4-H animal projects.

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