Lessons Learned from 4-H
Animal projects are some of the longest-running and easily identifiable aspects of 4-H, but they are much more complex than what happens in the show ring. Many people may not realize the valuable skills that 4-H’ers receive as a result of participating in these projects.
4-H animal projects help youth learn about the life cycle, growth and feeding of animals. In the process, they learn about animal selection and evaluation, nutrition and feeding, animal health, daily care, reproduction and marketing.
Animal projects also help 4-H’ers build or improve upon important life skills including hard work, responsibility, critical thinking and decision-making. 4-H’ers also learn leadership skills, communication with others, organizational skills and record keeping.
As part of these programs, young people are encouraged to practice animal welfare and responsibility. 4-H’ers are encouraged to take ownership of their project and be responsible for the animal’s daily care, while receiving oversight from an adult volunteer. 4-H’ers learn how to provide adequate feed, water and shelter to their animal and give the animal opportunities for normal socialization. As the animal grows, young people can take pride in knowing they helped raise a healthy animal.
Whether raising animals for food/fiber or as pets, responsible livestock and pet owners know that responsible animal care is the right thing to do. Practicing compassionate animal care is to everyone’s advantage. Not only do consumers demand it, but healthy, well cared for animals have a better quality of life and are better producers and pets.
For more information on 4-H Animal Projects, contact Jimmy Chambers or Melissa Henry, Putnam County 4-H Youth Development Agents at the Putnam County Extension Office at 931-526-4561.
Programs in agriculture and natural resources, 4-H youth development, family and consumer sciences, and resource development. University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture and County Governments Cooperating. UT Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment.
Sources: Mark Mains and Jann Burks, extension specialists for 4-H youth development; Steve Austin, extension associate for youth livestock programs; Jacquie Jacob, poultry extension associate.