Brett, Adam and Beth belong to 4-H and with our county fair only 2 weeks today, many of their activities now revolve around finishing their projects. 4-H not only teaches leadership, community involvement and responsibility, it also teaches you how to work with a deadline. Sometimes that deadline is really tight as the kids finish their projects on entry day of the fair. We call that “working under pressure”.

 

The kids take pigs and rabbits as 4-H projects. Their 4-H pigs are in the same barn as our regular market hogs, but get fed a special diet, so part of the kid’s job every day is to carry feed to the pigs. That’s what Brett is doing in this picture. This is a good activity for them because they learn to work together as they fill the pails with feed and haul them in a wagon to the barn. They also learn how to care for animals and understand the responsibility of making sure they have feed. They also need to communicate with Dale when the bin is empty, so that he can grind more feed.

 Interacting with the pigs every day help them monitor the growth of the pig and determine which ones will be best suited for taking to the fair. Generally we’re looking for pigs that represent our targeted market weight, which is 260-280 lbs. We want them to be well muscled and move well. The kids have all taken a Livestock Quality Assurance and Ethics class (LQA&E) which teaches them about animal care and well being and also about proper showing ethics. This is a good class and is required by the packer the kids sell their pigs to at the end of the fair.

 Being in 4-H not only teaches the kids about the projects, it helps us as parents learn how to “teach” our kids. How “hands on” should we be on a project vs. letting them learn for themselves? Also, when things don’t go right, how do we treat each other? Sharing responsibility and not putting the blame on others are qualities we all need to use, not only for 4-H but for life.

 These next 2 weeks will be busy. The kids also have projects to complete in plant and soil science, wildlife biology, photography, crafts, robotics, food and nutrition. 4-H is a great experience for our kids and the county fair is certainly one of the highlights of their summer.

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