Showing character Part 2: Caring

Showing Character is a series of hands-on learning activities for young people to teach them about character education when showing livestock projects. Learn more about one important area of character education: caring.

This is the second article in a Michigan State University Extension series on Showing Character, a character development curriculum for youth and adults to use when showing livestock projects in 4-H. The curriculum is based on the CHARACTER COUNTS! curriculum by the Josephson Institute, and emphasizes six core values youth learn by showing animals. This article will explore the second of the six important character life skills: caring.

Teaching youth about caring can start at an early age. One of the basic caring lessons youth can learn is how to be kind to people. Saying please and thank you are another way children can express caring, as is helping others, such as siblings. Youth model these behaviors after adult responses and how they see adults treat one another. As a result, adults can teach children to care by showing them how they care about family and friends.

When we talk about caring with livestock projects, young people show they care by feeding and watering their animals. When youth show at livestock shows or at the county fair, they also show they care by being conscious of where the animal is placed – in a clean stall. Youth can also do this at home, by making sure the animals are cared for in a safe environment on the farm or in the barn. All of this shows a caring person and a caring action.

Caring in a livestock project also means treating the animal in a humane way at all times, no matter where they are – in a livestock show, county fair livestock auction or at their own location. Even if youth sell their animals, it is important they care for their animal right up until it is taken to slaughter.

When working with animals, another good way to talk and learn about caring is to show you care for other people. If a new member joins a local livestock club, youth may share how to care, feed and house their animals. When a new person joins a 4-H club, youth can assist that new member in selecting and purchasing an animal. When transporting animals to the fair, youth and adults can offer assistance to others who may not have a way to get their animals to the fair.

By practicing certain behaviors, youth develop and strengthen their own character as they become successful adults. Encouraging youth to implement some of these activities into their livestock projects can help them develop the important life skill of caring.

MSU Extension 4-H youth programs can help with other character education lessons through their Showing Character series. For more information, please contact your local Extension office.

Read the rest of the articles in this series:

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