4-H: Competency or competition?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Returning last week from 4-H Camp at Shakamak State Park, the common question was can we make 4-H Camp longer? Friendships, learning and life skill building experiences all occurred at 4-H Camp and these youth all seemed to have a blast. After writing this column, it will be time to head up to Purdue for the 3 day 4-H Science Workshops that includes aerospace, plant, animal, computer and many other science area workshops. The 4-H program provides many life skill experiences and as fair time approaches, it would be good to discuss goals related to 4-H activities. Unfortunately, some are only familiar with the fair exhibition portion of the 4-H program.

The upcoming summer season will be business as usual for many 4-Hers who will be working on projects, attending meetings/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 which 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!

Visit our website at www.extension.purdue.edu/putnam or you can contact the local Purdue Extension Office by calling 765.653.8411 for more information regarding this week's column topic 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.

Upcoming events

June 12: Putnam County Master Gardeners' Garden Tour

June 14: E. H. Leader Lesson "Reading and Story Telling for Fun and Literacy" 7 pm, Ext. Office

June 15: 4-H Key Club Award Forms Due

June 15: Greencastle Farmers Market opens

June 15: 4-H Cat Workshop, County Annex, 6:30 PM

June 17-19: 2010 State Conference for Purdue Master Gardeners

June 17: 4-H Electric Workshop, County Annex, 1 pm

June 21: JPQA Class for 4-H Swine Members, Fairgrounds, 6:30 pm

June 23: Farm Management Tour, Boone and Hendricks counties

June 29: 4-H Electric Workshop, County Annex, 9 am

June 29: Fashion Revue Workshop, Fairgrounds, 6:30 pm

July 1: State Fair Cat, Dog, Horse & Pony, Goat, Poultry, and Rabbit forms due

July 1: Purdue Weed Day, Throckmorton-Purdue Agricultural Center

July 5: Extension Office closed for Independence Day Observance

July 6: Junior Master Gardener Informational Meeting -- Court House Annex