Friday, July 31, 2015

What's the difference between 4-H and Open Class, anyway?

Sometimes we get the question: what's the difference between a 4-H exhibit and and open class exhibit? 

The difference is the a 4-H class or club youth learn so many other skills than just the tasks necessary to finish that project. 

For example, we'll likely have some cooking, art, and crafts in the fair. The youth that exhibit those projects likely 
met with several peers 
a few different times; they probably had to 
talk in front of a group
or work together in teams
There were likely frustrations or 
problem solving 
they had to do and a 
caring adult volunteer 
or teen mentor 
may have helped them learn tips and tricks or new skills. 

Thinking about the livestock projects being prepared, there were lots of 
early mornings,
stinky boots,
 and dirty clothes 
going back as far as January or February with a steer calf, lamb, pig, or goat halter breaking, exercising, training for the show ring. 

These youth have practiced 
personal responsibility 
and, depending on how well they have prepared, they may or may not also get a hard lesson in 
personal accountability
from the judge. The time for preparation has definitely passed. And even that teaches life skills.

So, what is the difference between 4-H and Open class?  When you see an exhibit with a 4-H tag or a young person with a 4-H patch on their arm, just know that there were hours invested and not just in the project, but in the life of that young person. Invested for what?  A blue ribbon at the county fair?  Not hardly - the skills and experience gained in 4-H have the power to carry young people through life in a positive way and long after ribbons and awards fade away. And that makes all the difference.

Hope to see you at the Sevier County Fair, August 5-8, 2015!

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