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Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014

4-H: Competency or competition

Monday, June 22, 2009

A couple weeks ago at 4-H camp, a little boy exclaimed, "I have never been in the wilderness for this long" despite being in an air-conditioned cabin with good hot meals at Shakamak State Park.

Camp was an awesome experience for this little boy. While the phrase "being in the wilderness" is relative, this 4-H'er had an experience. 4-H provides many life skill experiences and as fair time approaches, it would be good to discuss goals related to 4-H activities.

The upcoming summer season will be business as usual for many 4-H'ers who will be working on projects, attending meetings and workshops or camps.

One suggestion for both the parents and youth is to set goals and establish what it is that one is seeking by being involved in a particular activity or event. Other venues like sports and other organizational activities will also be available as youth make summer plans. Be careful to not get so wrapped into the busyness of the season that the sense of purpose is lost.

Competition is a good thing. It is the principle in many attributes of this country's foundation and provides encouragement for each and every one of us to enhance performance. However there is a balance between competition and competency that must be respected. At the same time, one must be competent to be competitive. Indiana's premiere and largest youth development program remains a responsible program due to parents and youth having a discussion about the roles of competition and competency in the program.

Discussion might include that having goals of striving to be grand champion or receiving a blue ribbon or to achieve a cash scholarship are positive attributes. From personal experience, the times of winning were not always about getting first place. Learning through challenging one's self through new projects is very important. Focusing on developing fellow 4-Hers and seeing others personal growth is rewarding. Seeing 4-H programs grow due to individuals taking responsibility to serve as positive role models in the program and at competitions both locally and beyond makes it a privilege to be involved with the 4-H program.

Hopefully all 4-H families can work to remain focused on developing the next generation of young people who will ultimately serve as our future leaders! While competition at 4-H events is inherent, the education that comes with 4-H project work and attainment of personal goals is far more important than a "winning at all costs" attitude. Ultimately competency should take precedence over competition. With your assistance, it is certain that the young people involved in 4-H Youth Development projects and activities will learn that the process of learning is far more important than the 4-H project or exhibit itself.

Parents and volunteers can serve as positive role models through the following: conduct exhibits a courteous and respectful manner, exhibit good sportsmanship, praise their own and other young individuals for what they have learned from their 4-H experience and accomplishments, and finally understand that the best exhibit possible is the individual 4-H member!

Remember to check our website www.extension.purdue.edu/putnam to view the most up to date info. The Herald is there and should also be in 4-Her's mailboxes this week. You can contact the local Purdue Extension Office by calling 653-8411 for more information regarding column topics or to RSVP for upcoming events. It is always best to call first to assure items are ready when you arrive and to RSVP for programs. While many publications are free, some do have a fee. All times listed are Eastern Time.