What the non-livestock 4-H member wants you to know

Non-livestock 4-H exhibitors work hard to develop their skills and create projects.

As you visit the fair and enjoy the exhibits, please remember that the exhibits on display in the non-livestock areas are really important to the exhibitors and their families. As a non-livestock exhibitor, they don’t get a lot of attention or credit at fair and that just doesn’t seem fair. They worked really hard all year and like their friends in the barn, this is their time to showcase what they learned from their leaders throughout the year. They practiced and studied various skills and techniques a lot to get it right; trust me, they ripped out a lot of seams and sewed a lot of pillow cases practicing their stitching techniques before making that sewing project displayed at fair.

When you walk through the barns, the members are there with their animals preparing to show so you might get to talk to them and compliment them on their animals; if you see some members showing off their non-livestock exhibits, it is OK to tell them they did a good job as well. Many exhibitors bring family and friends in to see their exhibits and they love it when you take a moment to tell them what a nice job they did. The projects in the buildings represent many hours of work on the part of the members and their leaders.

I wanted to give members that exhibit in the non-livestock areas a moment in the spotlight. These members work hard throughout the year on their projects and invest a great deal of time and money in their projects and strive for excellence in their disciplines. As a member preparing for fair, I remember all too well the significant amount of time and money that went into my non-livestock projects each year. I once practiced the coffee cake recipe so many times that by fair week my parents begged me to give all the leftovers away and refrain from making it again until Christmas. I also remember the time spent with the volunteers who helped me with those projects and each time I make chocolate chip cookies I smile because they remind me of Ruth. When I look at needlework projects, I remember Wendy who taught me a whole lot more than how to cross stitch, candlewick and embroider; she taught me about giving back, the importance of friends and setting goals.

The lessons learned on the projects in the non-livestock areas can be just as powerful and offer young people a chance to develop their skills. 4-H volunteers in these areas inspire young people and serve as role models; they may think they are just teaching a project area, but they soon find out they are making a difference in the lives of young people they work with.

As you visit your local fair and enjoy the exhibits, you might think you have a skill to share with young people in your community. If so, consider being a 4-H volunteer. You can volunteer for a few weeks or a few years, the choice is yours. Contact your local Michigan State University Extension county office for more details. You never know how you may affect the life of those around you by volunteering.

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