Spring is one of the busiest times of the 4-H year. Surviving these weeks with a smile on one’s face is evidence of mastering time management. Today’s post will give you a glimpse of the structure of these 4-H events.
The excitement begins in late March and early April with County Events: Night of the Arts and Demonstration Day. At these events, 4-H youth demonstrate their artistic talent and public speaking skills. This year eighty-three youth, ages 5-18, competed for either a first place or a blue ribbon. Those who met that goal qualified for a spot at District Events to compete with five other counties in 4-H District IX. The other counties are Hillsborough, Manatee, Polk, Pasco, And Sarasota. Thirty-two Pinellas Junior, Intermediate and Senior 4-H’ers qualified for District Events along with the the youth from the neighboring counties, for a total of 123 district level competitors.
Many thanks to Ridgecrest Elementary and Dixie Hollins high School for allowing 4-H to hold these events at their facilities. There is a special reason for Pinellas 4-H’ers to be the high point winners at District Events. The Junior and Intermediate winners receive a full scholarship to 4-H Camp Ocala June 9-13. The Senior winners receive a full scholarship to 4-H University, formerly known as 4-H Congress July 28 – August 1.
In between the County and District Events is the Area E 4-H horse Show. In this show, the nine counties of Area E gather at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center for two days of competition. This year there were 115 riders with 23 from Pinellas. Riders qualify for the show by entering in a certain number of local shows or through their leader’s evaluation. There are English and Western classes, including Dressage and timed events. While ribbons are awarded, each 4-H’er keeps a mental count of the points they have earned. A certain number earned, determined after the show, will advance horse and rider to the State 4-H Horse Show July 9-12, again at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center. A percentage of these point earners may advance to the Regional Show in Raleigh, North Carolina.
While education and learning life skills are the focus of the 4-H Program, these competitions create excitement, motivation, and more opportunities for 4-H youth to experience in a safe, positive environment. Yes, scheduling all these events in a family’s schedule can be difficult, but the end product makes it all worth while.