Policies and procedures

Section 5: Guidelines for Exhibition and Completion of 4-H Projects/Subjects

5.1 Competition and Youth Development

4-H’s mission is to empower youth to reach their full potential through working and learning in partnership with caring adults. Many volunteers and staff work to assist youth in developing knowledge, skills and attitudes that enable them to become productive and contributing members of society. It is important for adults to keep this goal in mind and recognize that youth need to learn how to complete projects, not someone else. While there are obviously differences in the abilities of 3rd grade student as compared to a 12th grade student, the potential for youth to learn is always greatest when youth are responsible for completing the various aspects of their project.

In competitive events, parents and others focusing on winning the competition and not on developing the youth can overlook the mission of youth development. The following principles should be recognized for determining rules regarding 4-H members doing their own work.

  • Help from family members is appropriate for some aspects of the project. However, the exhibitors should have increased responsibility as they mature in their project skills.
  • Teamwork is a life skill and working together with other 4-H members is appropriate.
  • Professionals or individuals who are paid to do similar work and are older than 4-H age and not related to the youth, should not be involved in aspects of the project that are directly related to exhibition and competition. Along with principles, the following questions should be asked for determining rules regarding 4-H members doing their own work:
    • Is the 4-H member capable of completing the work, even if the level of expertise is different from other youth or adults?
    • Are other youth of similar age capable of completing the work? Is the assistance offered by other exhibitors or family members focused on competition for exhibition or is the youth involved in the process and able to improve his/her own skills?