Sunday, August 3, 2008

County Fair time, 4-H projects, and the price of procrastination

So, the County Fair started on Thursday, which meant that the kids had to "go home" to finish projects that couldn't be finished here. I'm still trying to wrap my brain around the "we have to do them at home" as opposed to finishing them here, but after viewing some entries, the light turns on. I guess in the dark recesses of my mind, I knew the real reason, but I wanted to believe in goodness and innocence and truthfulness when it comes to 4-H projects. And again, I'm disappointed. Terribly disappointed.

Walking through the exhibit building, we look the photo projects that had to be finished. At home. Not here. We find photo #1 with the youngest kid's name attached to it. I look at it, and I know there is no way in Hades she took the picture because it was at a track meet on a school day and I know she was in school.

Picture #2 was supposedly taken by daughter #2. It shows daughter #3 running at the elementary field day. And again, there is no way in Hades she took the picture because she was sitting next to her father some 50 feet behind me. And want to know who took that photo? The mother. She was about ten feet farther down the line than I was when I snapped pictures of #3.

And then there's the picture taken by the one and only son. I'm not sure where he took the picture at. It looks like something photoshopped or "borrowed" from some other source. The reason I question the photo is because there aren't many wooded areas like that around the area. It's too perfect, if you know what I mean.

Then there's the gardening project. How can a judge award a purple ribbon to a container garden that still has the flower identifying sticker from the nursery? I guess if the only learning process is to water the plant and care for it, then ok, but if the point of the project is to raise something, nurture and care for it, this project miserably fails. I wouldn't even award it a white ribbon.

And daughter #3 told us she had all these cooking projects to finish. Ummm, we found one piece of angel food cake. No cookies. No decorated cakes. Angel food cake. And that's why she had to go home two days early? To cut a 1/2" slice of cake?

We're still searching for the sewing project. Obviously, there wasn't time to run to Wal-Mart, buy the item, rip off the tags, and pass it off as your own.

And that leads to the preparation of livestock for the show. Who should be cleaning these animals? Parents? No, it should be the participant. So that explains why we had to get the cow cleaned up. Yes, he said he took care of the three heifers before we got there. And that might be true. But based on watching he and sis #3 get the goats ready, I'm positive someone else did the cleanup duty.

So here's a note to consider: if you are in so many events in the livestock show that you don't have time to show and prepare all of them, perhaps you should consider not showing so many animals. Because if you can't handle getting them ready at fair, you probably haven't spent enough time with them to begin with. Do you really need to show 32 rabbits and two pens of chickens, along with 13 goats and four cows? Have you ever thought about cutting down and taking pride in what you're doing? It's better to do one thing and be great at it than to do fifty things and be mediocre at it.

Now, I'm all about 4-H. I see the benefits and opportunities that are available through the program. Heck, I was in 4-H for a number of years and I remember matting photos for the fair and finishing the basic sewing project in time for the fashion revue. But I completed the projects on my own. My parents never took control and finished my projects. If I was up late at night completing them, that was my problem, not theirs. They would be close if I needed minor assistance, but I would never flip through the photos my mom took and pass them off as my own.

And that is what makes me question the goals of 4-H now. I'm sure not every parent handles fair entries for their children; the group is a youth organization. It's supposed to help them learn. How can they learn right from wrong if they're told to cheat? It's impossible.

This makes me wonder if the price of procrastination is learning how to cheat. Does procrastination mean your parent finishes your project?

On the bright side, we did have the Grand Champion Dairy Cow. Woo hoo! This is the second year this particular cow has been crowned GC. The two Holstein heifers received top purple, and my Jersey got top blue. The judge said she was short. Hello! She's a Jersey. She's going to be shorter than a Holstein!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I read the ARTICLE on the fair. I understand that they have changed so many rules. How can you do a cattle project if you don't keep a record book? There have always been parents that do the work for their kids but I think back when and the majority of the kids did their own. Deanna and I had a long conversation on this yesterday and thought back to when we were in 4-H. I never did cooking but did dewing and cattle. I can remember well, teaching the cow to work with a ROPE halter long before we ever but a leather one on. Showmanship was to have your cattle under control at all times....not to break their neck!!!!! When they got ready for the leather halter they were ready for the ring and all we had to do was just hold the halter strap up a few inches and if the cattle got ansy we would just jiggle the chain. Do they not teach showmanship any more....what a shame!!!!!
As for the pictures....someone should turn those kids in tio the authorities of the fair. What a way to TEACH cheating and get away with it.