I’m in 4-H, now what?
The paperwork is in and the county dues are paid – you are officially a 4-H Member! Now let’s get busy!!!
- Club level participation – Be sure to attend club meetings and events. The best way to know what’s going on and coming up is to be there and hear about it for yourself.
- Participation in county events – Get involved in county events; participate in Showcase, Curtain Call, Basketball, etc. Enjoy yourself! (See Part 7 for a more complete list)
- 4-H Projects – Attend every project meeting you can! Project leaders are a wonderful resource – take advantage of their wealth of knowledge, learn from them! Begin working on your 4-H projects now. Do not wait until two weeks before Fair.
- Club leadership – During your first year in 4-H, you won’t likely be an elected club officer, but pay attention because you may want to get involved in that in the future!
- Record Book tracking – Youth in 3rd grade and above are encouraged to document all their 4-H activities at the club, county, and state level in a Record Book. The Record Book is also used to track community activities and the progress of a youth in each respective 4-H project. Many 4-H members will attest to the benefit and importance of Record Books and record keeping as they apply for higher education, prepare their resume, and submit applications for jobs. But the benefits of keeping a Record Book continue in the next section.
The Benefits of Getting the Most out of 4-H
You may have heard the old adage, “you only get out of it what you put in”. In 4-H you get more than what you put in!! Not only do you get to enjoy the learning experiences and fun of 4-H, but involvement and leadership also come with rewards.
Everyone loves awards… and 4-H offers a lot of them. In the beginning, it’s stickers in your record book but soon you’ll find yourself earning medals – Bronze, Silver, Gold and Project Medals. But there are two additional 4-H awards as well:
Key Award – The gold Wisconsin 4-H Key Award is presented for outstanding 4-H club work, including a minimum of one year of youth leadership. The 4-H member must be at least a senior in high school.
Danforth Award – The Danforth Award, the highest award given by Waukesha County 4-H. This award goes to the top 4-H youth who is at least a senior in high school.
One of the most amazing rewards offered by Waukesha County 4-H are the 4-H trips. The Waukesha County Leaders Association pays for 75% of the trip costs and the youth pays 25%. The trips available are:
State Youth Conference – Youth who’ve completed 7th through 9th grade can earn this four day trip to Madison. Yes, there are seven qualifying factors but most of them are paperwork (including the Record Book).
Citizenship Washington Focus – Youth in 10th through 12th grade can earn this week long trip to Washington, D.C. In addition to the seven qualifying factors which are the same as the State Youth Conference, a youth must have attended the State Youth Conference to be eligible for this trip. Students are expected to share their experiences with their 4-H club and throughout the county.
National Congress – This educational, cultural, social and recognition experience is open to 10th through 12th grade youth. Youth are able to choose attending in the United States or Canada. In addition to the seven qualifying factors which are the same as the State Youth Conference, a youth must have attended the State Youth Conference to be eligible for this trip. Students are expected to share their experiences with their 4-H club and throughout the county.
National Conference – This citizenship experience is held in April in Washington, D.C. Youth visit the Secretary of State, Senators and members of Congress. A special group is selected to present a 4-H report to the President of the United State. Waukesha County 4-H nominates two youth in 10th through 12th grade to attend. The State 4-H office selects the Wisconsin representative from the nominees submitted by each county. Are there qualifications? Yes. Do I need to repeat them? Ok… in addition to the seven qualifying factors which are the same as the State Youth Conference, a youth must have attended the State Youth Conference to be eligible for this trip. Students are expected to share their experiences with their 4-H club and throughout the county.
4-H Scholarship Opportunities
The Waukesha County 4-H Leaders’ Association offers scholarships for higher education. Applications are accepted annually from 12th graders and those one year out of high school. Applications are evaluated by a selection committee based on: 20% Scholastic Achievement, 40% 4-H Club Achievement, 20% 4-H County Achievement, 10% 4-H State & National Achievement and 10% for Community and non 4-H Achievement. Qualified applications will receive a scholarship award from $100 to a maximum of $1000. Actual amount is proportional to the evaluation results. For a complete list of member qualifications, please refer to the website at http://waukesha.uwex.edu/4-h-youth-development/4-h-scholarships/.
More to do in 4-H – 4-H Events
4-H Basketball Tournament – The 4-H Basketball Tournament is a daylong event held one Saturday in March. 4-H clubs may register a team, or individual 4-H members may register and be assigned to a team. Every registered player plays on a team. There are age-specific teams, with an emphasis on sportsmanship and competition. Younger teams are coed. Teams practice together and play the tournament on Saturday. There are five divisions based on grade.
4-H Summer Camp – This is a four day/three night camp at Upham Woods, Wisconsin Dells, for 4-H members ages 9 and up. Camp is normally held at the end of July or the beginning of August.
4-H Teen Winter Camp – This is an overnight winter camp at Upham Woods, Wisconsin Dells, for teenage 4-H members.
County Fair Judging – The County Fair is a place to exhibit items to demonstrate the hard work and growth of an individual in his or her 4-H project(s). Most non-animal projects entered by 4-H Members are judged on the Monday and Tuesday prior to the start of fair. On the designated day members discuss with a judge what they have learned and the process of the creation of their exhibits. The exceptions are all shooting sports projects, clothing (see Style Revue), music (see Showcase), Legos, and demonstrations (see Demo Day).
Most animal projects are judged later in the week during the Fair. The exceptions are Cats, Dogs, Rabbit Hopping, and Small Animals. Watch for the scheduled “show” dates for these events.
For participation (showing) at the Waukesha County Fair, proper enrollment procedures must be followed.
- Youth must have been enrolled in the related 4-H project by March 1.
- Youth must also enter the Waukesha County Fair by filling out an online entry form on the Fair website (www.waukeshacountyfair.com). Events that are judged prior to Fair must also be included on the Fair Entry form. (Fair numbers are NOT the same as 4-H project numbers.)
County Fair (4-H Youth and Adult) Participation Opportunities – During the Fair, both youth and adults may serve as volunteers staffing the Dairy Bar, 4-H Kitchen, 4-H Information Booth, Activity Center, and Silent Auction table.
Curtain Call – Drama – Clubs perform skits, plays, and musicals. The performances are critiqued by judges. Up to two performances are selected to perform at the Wisconsin State Fair.
Demo Day (Fair Event) – Demo (demonstration) Day offers 4-H members the opportunity to share a project or activity in a “show and tell” format. This event takes place the same date/time/location as the 4-H Basketball Tournament. As a fair event, Demo Day is the day to have a demonstration judged by fair officials to receive a fair premium. Youth may also give demonstrations during the County Fair at the Youth in Action stage; these are critiqued and the youth can gain recognition for the demonstration in their Record Book, but will not be eligible for a premium.
Family Fun Night – The 4-H hosts a family night at the Waukesha County Expo Center grounds in February. The purpose of the night is for fun, games, food and fellowship.
Project Day – Project Day is a countywide, daylong event, which gives youth an opportunity to experience different types of 4-H projects, or expand on a project in which they are already enrolled. Project Day takes place with several workshop sessions spanning throughout the morning and afternoon. Members must register for this event.
ReDiscover 4-H – These events are when 4-H clubs and their members exhibit their club’s activities. Clubs also use the day to promote 4-H to prospective families.
Showcase – Music – The 4-H Showcase in February is a morning devoted to individual performances by 4-H members. Performances can be spoken word, singing, dance or instrumental. A group of 4-H members will provide additional entertainment as they perform together in the “band jam”. Dance troupes also perform.
Workshops – Workshops are county level events, organized and run by project leaders at the county level. The purpose of a workshop is to assist youth in exploring a specific 4-H project. Workshops are usually one-time, annual events for youth to gather information and try out the project without having to commit.
A Bit About the Waukesha County Fair
The Waukesha County Fair is where the 4-H youth display their projects and animals. The Waukesha County Fair takes place the third week in July.
4-H is a huge part of the Waukesha County Fair and showing at the Waukesha County Fair is a huge part of 4-H, however, they are separate organizations. (Please don’t be offended if the 4-H office tells you to call the Fair office or vice versa – we don’t know everything about the Fair and they don’t know everything about 4-H.) For details on 4-H and the Fair, go to the Waukesha County 4-H website (http://waukesha.uwex.edu/4-h-youth-development/) and click on “4-H at the Fair”.
A Letter about the Waukesha County Fair from a former 4-H youth:
I would like to share with you why the Waukesha County Fair is so important in 4-H. I would like to share the awesome experiences gained through participating in county fair through 4-H.
The Waukesha County Fair is the highlight of the 4-H year. When my family first joined 4-H about nine years ago, we did not realize how important Fair is in the 4-H year. After our first Fair, we were hooked because it is such an awesome experience!
The Fair week begins with two days of face-to-face judging of your completed 4-H projects. While at first this may seem a little scary, it is actually a great experience. You are able to explain to a judge your project and what you learned during the year. Then the judge can compliment you on what you did well and advise you on how to improve for future projects. Through this experience, I have received useful advice on my projects. I also was able to develop communication skills that have been useful when interviewing for internships and jobs.
The Fair officially begins on Wednesday afternoon. It is always exciting to see if you or your friends or club members won any merit, champion, or state fair ribbons. It’s a great goal to work towards in your projects as these awards are given out to the top projects in a department.
Volunteering at the Fair is also a rewarding experience. My family has volunteered at the 4-H Food Stand for years. I especially enjoy making the cream puffs! Here I have grown in teamwork and leadership skills as I work with fellow club members to run the kitchen to serve fairgoers. Other ways you can volunteer are helping set-up the 4-H areas at the Fair, assisting judges, helping young fairgoers make crafts at the 4-H Activity Center, and cleaning up after Fair.
Performing at the Fair on the Youth in Action stage in the 4-H Forum is also a great experience and lots of fun. Many 4-H members perform music, demonstration speeches, dance, and drama, and the Style Revue showcases sewing skills of 4-H members. During my years in 4-H, I have played piano, given a few demos, and performed with the cloggers. While you may think it sounds intimidating to perform at fair, I encourage you to try it. You will gain more confidence in speaking or performing before an audience and you might just discover that you enjoy the experience!
And, although 4-H offers lots of activities and volunteer opportunities to keep you busy at the Fair, make sure to explore the fairgrounds as well. Stop by the Action Center, watch the annual show on the grounds and visit the vendors.
I have participated in every Fair for the last eight years…and it’s been lots of fun and creates great memories! If you haven’t been to Fair yet, I encourage you to make sure this year is your first Fair…and it probably won’t be your last!