Youth shows and fairs provide a valuable opportunity for young people to develop a wide range of life skills. From responsibility and communication to planning and organization, these events offer a unique learning experience that can help young people build important skills for success in all areas of life.
Can a youth’s participation in County fairs and Shows help to develop them into responsible adult? The answer is yes! The Florida 4-H Program seeks to be inclusive to all youth by using a variety of vehicles to teach youth life skills in traditional and non-traditional settings. A recent article in The Journal of Extension by Oregon State professionals found that “having fun” “spending time with friends” and “teamwork” were the highest-rated motivators for youth that participated in fairs.
The study also revealed that participation in fairs through 4-H had a significant positive effect on participants’ levels of caring, contribution, and character. These characteristics are also part of the Essential Elements of 4-H that youth experience by being in an active 4-H program throughout the year. Those elements are Belonging, Independence, Generosity, and Mastery.
One of the most important skills that youth learn through participation in youth shows and fairs is responsibility. Whether they are caring for animals, plants, or other projects, youth must take on the responsibility of ensuring that their projects are healthy, well-cared for, and ready to be presented to judges and visitors.
Communication is another key skill that youth develop through participation in youth shows and fairs. Through active participation youth learn the ability to articulate complex ideas, listen actively, and respond thoughtfully to questions and feedback.
In addition to these skills, youth shows, and fairs also emphasize important values such as sportsmanship and fair play. Participants are encouraged to respect their competitors, accept both victories and defeats graciously, and uphold the highest standards of ethical behavior. This helps young people develop important social skills, including the ability to work collaboratively with others and build positive relationships.
Finally, participation in youth shows and fairs can help young people develop resilience and perseverance in the face of challenges and setbacks. These events can be competitive and stressful, but they also offer opportunities for young people to learn from failures, bounce back from disappointments, and remain motivated to achieve their goals.
A few of the Florida 4-H Shows and Fairs are as follows:
- State 4-H Dairy Show Okeechobee March
- 4-H Chick Chain Show Chipley April
- Area North Horse Show Green Cove Springs May
- North Florida Fair Tallahassee November
*For additional opportunities to participate in 4-H Shows and fairs please contact your local 4-H office.
In conclusion, participation in youth shows and fairs can offer a unique and valuable learning experience for young people. By developing important skills such as responsibility, communication, planning, and organization, as well as important values such as sportsmanship and fair play, youth can build the foundation for success in all areas of life.
More information on this study can be obtained by visiting the Journal of Extension at www.joe.org and viewing volume 45, number 6.(Arnold, Meinhold, Skubinna, and Asthton)
Life skills for youth are defined as a set of abilities and competencies that enable young people to successfully navigate their daily lives and achieve their goals. These skills are essential for personal and professional development and help “prepare youth to be responsible citizens and productive members of the workforce.” Florida 4-H provides many opportunities for young people to obtain life skills through project work, community and afterschool clubs, workshops, and leadership programs.
As a state-wide organization, Florida 4-H prioritizes the development of communication, higher-order thinking, and appreciation of differences. These three life skills are infused throughout our educational activities and programs because they are essential workforce skills. Below are a few examples of local programs that focus on helping youth develop life skills:
- Communication: 4-H provides opportunities for youth to develop their communication skills through the Florida 4-H Public Speaking Contest, demonstrations, and presentations at County/District and 4-H University. These activities help youth learn how to articulate their ideas clearly and confidently.
- Higher Order Thinking: this includes both decision-making and problem-solving.
- Decision-Making: 4-H offers various programs, such as judging contests at fairs, 4-H event planning committees (district/state council), and club activities that help youth develop their decision-making skills. These activities help youth learn how to make informed decisions and evaluate the outcomes of their choices.
- Problem-Solving: 4-H offers various programs, such as STEM projects and engineering challenges, that help youth develop problem-solving skills. These activities encourage youth to think creatively and find innovative solutions to complex problems.
- Appreciation of Differences– 4-H helps youth learn how to respect and communicate with people who might be different from themselves. Many of our programs offer opportunities for youth to meet new people and explore different cultures. We also help youth learn how to address conflict in a positive way through civil discourse. Older youth can participate in exchange programs with 4-Hers from other states and countries (4-H is in all 50 states and 32 other countries!).
- Teamwork: Through 4-H club projects, counselor training, and community service activities, youth learn how to work collaboratively with others towards a common goal, which helps them develop important teamwork skills.
- Responsibility: 4-H club projects and community service activities encourage youth to take responsibility for their actions and to learn the importance of following through on commitments.
- Leadership Development: 4-H offers various programs, such as officer training, public speaking, county/district councils, and community service projects, that help youth develop their leadership skills.
- Self-Confidence: 4-H programs provide a safe and supportive environment where youth can build their self-confidence through public speaking, leadership roles, and community service activities.
- Service Learning: Through 4-H club work, obtaining a Florida 4-H Community Pride Grant, and active membership on county/district councils, youth members take part in projects and experiences that help them how to become active participants in the communities and apply their experiences to real-life situations.
These are not the only life skills youth in Florida can learn and practice through 4-H- but they are part of almost every program we offer. These are examples of the priority life skills that Florida 4-H promotes among youth, with a focus on cognitive development, interpersonal skills, leadership, civic engagement, and practical skills. Florida 4-H aims to provide a comprehensive youth development program that equips young people with the skills they need to succeed in their personal lives, careers, and communities. Active involvement in 4-H will help members to connect life skills obtained through their 4-H involvement to real-life experiences. For more information on these youth leadership opportunities please contact your local 4-H office.
If you would like to help Florida 4-H teach life skills, or get your child involved in our program, reach out to your local UF/IFAS County Extension Office. There is an office in every county in Florida. Spring is a great time to get involved, because 4-H offers several summer programs for youth to develop life skills!
Marilyn N. Norman and Joy C. Jordan.2018.Targeting Life Skills. EDIS document #4HSFS101.9
Hendricks, P.(1988). Developing Youth Curriculum Using The targeting Life Skills Model
Michigan State Extension. 2016. 4-H Head Life Skill Sheets.(4-H1679)
Over 50 4-Hers and over 100 chickens filled the barn and auditorium for the 2023 Northwest District Chick Chain show. The show was culmination of the seven month 4-H Chick Chain project.
At the beginning of the 4-H year, 4-Hers took ownership of day old chicks and began their journey in the 4-H poultry science project. They learned about poultry nutritional and housing needs, how to clean and show their birds, and how to perform health assessments. This program also encourages the development of life skills. Life skills are also known as workforce ready skills – skills that help individuals adapt to and perform in different settings.
Some of those workforce ready skills include:
- Communication – During the project, 4-Hers learned how to perform health checks on their birds. At the show, they conduct a health check for a judge. They explain to a judge how to perform the check, what they are looking for, and why a health check is important. 4-Hers could also choose to participate in Avian Adventures and give a presentation or demonstration on any aspect of poultry science.
- Problem Solving – 4-Hers participated in a skill-a-thon to test what they learned throughout the project. Senior 4-Hers were given scenarios to apply the best care and nutrition practices to meet the given situation.
- Work Ethic – Caring for an animal requires daily attention. 4-Hers fed and watered their animals daily, changed bedding, and prepared for cold temperatures to protect their birds. They also practiced their showmanship skills by frequently handling their birds to ensure they were tame.
- Reading and Mathematics – 4-Hers completed a record book at the end of their project. Their record books documented project goals, what they learned during the project, and animal care tasks. They also completed a financial record of expenses and income throughout the project.
At the show, all 4-Hers participated in poultry showmanship. First-time show participants and Cloverbuds participated in a skill-a-thon to test the knowledge and skills they learned in the project. 4-Hers who participated in last year’s Chick Chain show participated in Avian Adventures giving a presentation or demonstration on any poultry science related topic.
Best of Breed winners
2023 NWD 4-H Chick Chain Show Results
Best of Breed
- Australorp – Kolton Mercer
- Cochin – Emily Flowers
- Delaware – Tate Cannon
- Orpington – Olivia Bruan
- Plymouth Barred Rock – Tate Cannon
- Rhode Island Red – Henry Feinberg
Laura Mae – Grand Champion Pullet
- Sussex – Lily McDaniel
- Wyandotte – Laura Mae Waters
Grand Champion Pullet – Laura Mae Waters
Reserve Champion Pullet – Henry Feinberg
Grand Champion Production – Audrey Stephens
Reserve Champion Production – Kolton Mercer
- 1st place Junior – Julia Newsome
Audrey – Grand Champion Production
- 2nd place Junior – Jackson Scurlock
- 3rd place Junior – Kendyl Reams
- 1st place Intermediate – Julia Mashack
- 2nd place Intermediate – Emily Flowers
- 3rd place Intermediate – Emmit Ackman
- 1st place Senior – Steven Stafford
- 2nd place Senior – Roger Nemeth
- 3rd place Senior – Audrey Stephens
Julia – 1st place junior showmanship
- 1st place Cloverbud – Aubrey Mauldin
- 1st place Junior – Finn Feinberg
- 1st place Intermediate – Micah Houston
- 1st place Senior – JD Brookhouse
Avian Adventures Demonstration
- 1st place Junior – Allison Collier
- 2nd place Junior – Tate Cannon
- 1st place Intermediate – Kason Mercer
Avian Adventures Illustrated Talk
Emily – 1st Place Intermediate presentation
- 1st place Junior – Jocelyn Brock
- 2nd place Junior – Kadence Ackman
- 1st place Intermediate – Emily Flowers
- 2nd place Intermediate – Riley Bolling
- 3rd place Intermediate – Eli Howard
- 1st place Senior – Cat Proud
- 2nd place Senior – Roger Nemeth
- 3rd place Audrey Stephens
To all of our exhibitors, your 4-H Agents and 4-H club leaders would like to say “Great work” and that we enjoyed working with you this year! The 2023-2024 NWD 4-H Chick Chain program will begin in September. For more information, contact your county UF/IFAS Extension office.
A special thank you to Chris Lauen, UF/IFAS Extension Holmes County 4-H Agent, for capturing photos throughout the day. Click to view the entire photo gallery.
If you have seen the news, weather, or even talked to your neighbor, then you know, it’s gonna be cold! It is going to be so cold, people from Florida don’t know what to do. Here are a few ideas how to protect your chick chain chicks. During this upcoming cold snap, your chicks will be between two and half to three and a half months old. They are fully feathered out and should be able to handle the weather that is “normal” for our area. The main thing to keep in mind in the next couple of days is that the upcoming weather will not be normal for our area.
Sussex chickens are a cold-hardy breed. But the coming cold is out of Florida’s norm!
There are several breeds that are hardier to the colder weather. These breeds include: Americauna, Austrolorp, Barnevelder, Brahma, Buckeye, Cochin, Delaware, Dominique, Faverolle, Jersey Giant, Marans, New Hampshire, Orpington, Plymouth Rock, Rhode Island Red, Sussex, Welsummer, and Wyandotte. Now, if you have one of these breeds, it doesn’t mean that you are out of the water. Additional care will need to be taken for all your chicks, no matter their breed.
Speaking of water, that is one of the main things you will need to be concerned with during the weather that is approaching. “They” are calling for over 34 hours of below freezing temperatures. The main concern for your birds will be heat and water. Your water will freeze over and will need to be checked on several times during the day. Add warm, not hot water to the poultry waterer. If you make it too hot, the chicks may burn themselves. Overnight, it is best to empty the waterers if possible to prevent ice. Refill them in the morning and throughout the day with warm water.
The strong wind is another concern. The weather advisory is calling the gust of wind that we will experience an “artic blast”. The main thing for your birds is to keep them out of the wind. This does not mean that you need to bring them inside. Simply putting up a block for the north wind will be enough. That block can be a sheet of plywood, some tin or even plastic sheeting. Apply something to the north end of the coop to help keep the wind down. Do not wrap the entire coop, just block the north end. If your coop has a natural north wind block, like bushes or if it is placed on the south side of your garage, you should be fine.
The next item to consider is to give them some warmth. This can be accomplished with a red heat bulb in a clamp light. I found mine on sale at Tractor Supply. The red bulb should be clamped about three to four feet above the floor of the coop. This will prevent any accidental burning of the chicks or the coop. Coop heaters are also available and are safer inside the coop. Another option is hay. Hay will provide warmth for your chicks and help with the chill of the ground. If you use hay, be very careful not to place your heat lamp too close because it could start a fire! The last item to assist with warmth is food. The actual act of eating food will provide warmth to your chicks’ bodies. Make sure they have plenty of food. Remember, scratch or cracked corn is essentially candy for them. Just like any candy, we want to limit how much of that they get. I bet if you mixed a little with their grower crumbles, they would not argue about it.
The main thing to remember with this cold snap is that your animals depend on you. Get bundled up and head outside and make sure they have clean, warm water and food. The good news is that we live in Florida and this is only for a couple of days.
Enjoy the change in weather and stay warm yourselves.
Prudence Caskey, 4-H Extension Agent II
Santa Rosa County Extension
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
6263 Dogwood Drive
Milton, FL 32570
Happy fair season everyone! Fairs aren’t just about rides and food but also about participating in showing livestock, entering exhibits, and competing in judging contests. Judging contests are a great way for youth to explore a topic they are interested in, and practice decision-making and critical thinking skills. One of the most popular judging contests is agriculture judging. There is an agricultural judging contest online and at the North Florida Fair.
The Florida 4-H Virtual Ag Judging Contest will take place on October 27th at 6:00 pm EST on Zoom and it is free! There will be a training prior to the contest to allow 4-H youth an opportunity to learn about each topic before participating in the contest. The training will be held on October 25th at 6:00 pm EST on zoom. This contest is great for 4-H youth to learn how to judge steers, dairy cows, poultry, swine, hay, grain, peanuts, and tomatoes. There will also be questions on tool identification, weed identification, and soil samples. To participate in this contest youth must be 4-H age 8-18 and will need to register in 4-H Online. If you have any questions about this event, please email Evie Blount (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Chris Decubellis (email@example.com). We had so much fun creating this contest virtually and are super excited for youth all over the state to participate! This is our 3rd year doing this contest and we are happy to see it grow!
The North Florida Fair Ag Judging Contest will take place on November 12th at the fairgrounds in Tallahassee, Florida. This contest will be covering judging steers, heifers, poultry, hay, and grains. This contest is for youth 4-H age 8-18 that are interested in learning how judge agriculture. To participate in this contest youth must be register in 4-H Online and contact your 4-H Agent to sign up. If you have any questions about this event, please email Robbie Jones firstname.lastname@example.org or Evie Blount (email@example.com).
If you are new to agriculture judging, below are some resources to help you prepare:
Cole as a sophomore at Jacksonville University, a member of the varsity shotgun team.
4-H allows young people to explore their sparks for learning. And through the process, young people learn valuable life skills that prepare them for work and/or college. But many people do not realize that 4-H can help young people secure cash for college or trade school! But college scholarships weren’t on Cole Dillard’s mind when he attended his first 4-H Shooting Sports club meeting. He just wanted to shoot skeet and become a better marksman. Cole joined the Sure Shots 4-H Club in Washington County when he was 10 years old and never looked back. Over the next eight years, he competed in 4-H and other shotgun competitions. He worked hard with his coaches to hone his skills and confidence. He also helped coach younger youth and served as the club president for two years. As a senior 4-Her, he was the Shotgun Individual HOA in 2020 at the Florida 4-H State Match. This earned him a spot to compete at the National 4-H Shooting Sports Match.
Cole with his brother Cass, and one of his 4-H Shotgun coaches
All that paid off when one of Cole’s coaches introduced him to the Jacksonville University advisor for the varsity shotgun team. After meeting the coach, touring the campus, and shooting with the other varsity members, Cole was offered a varsity scholarship to Jacksonville University as a member of their shotgun team. Today, Cole is finishing his sophomore year and majoring in aviation. His favorite clay target game is skeet, and he was recently named the Jacksonville University “Shooter of the Week.” You never know where exploring your 4-H sparks will take you in life- for Cole, it helped him turn his spark for shooting sports into cash for college!
Cole with members of his 4-H Shotgun team, preparing for the state match in 2019
Cole’s story would not have been possible without the caring volunteers who coached him in 4-H Shooting Sports. They shared their passion for the sport so that he could explore his spark, which eventually led to his college scholarship. This is one example of the many ways our 4-H volunteers make a significant difference in the lives of young people. If you have knowledge, skills, or expertise, please consider sharing them through 4-H. We offer flexible opportunities to share your passion with today’s youth. If you are not familiar with 4-H, check out our 4-H Volunteer Welcome Packet for answers to frequently asked questions about becoming a volunteer and schedule a meeting with your local UF/IFAS 4-H Agent.