The county fair is something most 4-H youth look forward to as they complete their 4-H year. It is more than just exhibiting something at the fair. Many youth were excited as the 2021 Fond du Lac County Fair was a highlight to the unusual year. It is a huge part of the reflection piece of 4-H, as youth spend many hours, days, weeks, and months learning about their projects.
For the younger youth, it is gaining confidence, self-esteem, and good communication skills when they sit down for face-to-face judging for the first time to share what they learned in the project and what they made for their county fair entry. A youth with an animal project spends hours working with their animal and attending many educational opportunities such as meetings, clinics, and more to learn.
As the youth grow older, they might gain skills such as cooperation, teamwork, responsibility, and commitment with taking an animal to the fair. For example, in the swine project, the youth learn how to pick out an animal, spend hours training the animal on how to walk for show day, and work as a team to put up a barn display and take turns caring for the animals during the week.
During face to face judging, a popular question youth are asked is, “What would you do differently, if you would do this again?” During face-to-face judging youth can reflect on the challenges they faced, the growth they had, and how they can apply new knowledge and skills for improvement.
Many of the youth problem solve during the process of making their project or think about what is difficult and can use critical thinking skills to find a better or more efficient way. Our teen leaders serve as managers each day in the food stand where they practice communication, money handling skills, and leadership to guide the work crew throughout the day.
The county fair learning process doesn’t have to end at age 19 when the 4-H youth graduates, as we hope to build our next generation of adult leaders and volunteers!