Happy New Year! Have you started to think about your project or record book and Standards of Excellence application for the year yet? I’m willing to bet that the answer to that question is “no!”.
Most of us tend to wait until riiiiight before the Fair or due date to start our record books (I admit, I was guilty of this as a 4-H’er, too!) but starting early in the 4-H year can really help prevent some stress and tears (for members AND parents!) come fair time.
Here are my top tips and tricks to prevent last minute record book, project report, and Standards of Excellence application stress!
- Get a folder!
Buy yourself a folder and print 2 copies of your project report and record book and Standards of Excellence application and put them in your folder. Use one as a sloppy copy and keep the second as a final version to submit. Bring this folder with you to ALL of your club meetings just in case!
- Write your goals for the year NOW… not right before your project is over!
The point of writing your goal is to give you something to strive for and work towards for the year. Think about what you REALLY want to accomplish this year. Then follow the SMART formula for goal writing.
The SMART formula says your goal should be:
SPECIFIC – What EXACTLY do you want to accomplish?
Bad example: “I want to learn more about showmanship”
Good example: “I want to place in the top 3 in my showmanship class at the Sumter County Fair”
MEASURABLE – How will you know you reached your goal?
This goes along with being specific. We can’t measure that you “learned more” about showmanship unless you demonstrate it somehow, like placing in the top 3 in your class.
ATTAINABLE – Is it something you CAN accomplish this year?
RELEVANT – Is it relevant to your project?
TIME-BOUND – Put an end date on it! If your project is a terminal project (like a market animal), you need to be able to reach that goal by the Fair. If you have a year-long project, or even a multi-year project, you may have multiple small goals to reach your ultimate project goal.
Here are a few examples of SMART goals:
This year, I would like to improve my showmanship skills and place in the top 3 of my showmanship class at the Sumter County Fair.
This year, I would like to learn more about animal selection and nutrition and have my pig place win it’s class at the Sumter County Fair.
This year, I would like to profit at least $1,000 on my market animal project.
This year, I would like to qualify for the State and Regional Horse Show.
This year, I would like to increase my knowledge of animal health and win my age division of Premier Exhibitor.
This year, I would like to qualify for District Events Day in Public Speaking.
- Start filling in your Standards of Excellence
Go ahead and take a look at your Standards of Excellence application. What things do you KNOW you will do this year? You know you’re going to turn in your record book and project report at the end of the year. You know you’re going to attend at least 2/3 of your club meetings (right???). You know you’ll probably do a community service project with your club (your club probably does the same one each year!). What else do you need to do to at least earn a Bronze Clover? Do you need to run for office?
Now, bring this with you to all of your 4-H events. As you complete activities, competitions, presentations, and other activities; have your club leader sign off on them. You may be surprised at what award level you’re able to achieve!
Standards of Excellence Award levels are great goals for your PROJECT REPORT (not your record book!). Fill in what you THINK you’ll do for the year. What level will that put you at? What other things do you need to do to achieve the next level?
Example Standards of Excellence goal: This year, I would like to lead a community service project so that I can achieve the Golden Clover award.
If you have any questions about starting your new year off SMART, let Mrs. Shayna know!