4-H at the Ohio State Fair Builds Youth Workforce Skills
By Sally McClaskey
COLUMBUS, Ohio–Amid the corn dogs, lemon shake-ups, and whirling rides, some might not know that the Ohio State Fair is a place for youth to develop career skills, something that happens each day of the fair for Ohio 4-H members sharing their projects.
Whether explaining the intricacies of electricity, demonstrating the best way to hold a hamster, or modeling a 19th-century gown, the months of research and work that takes place in completing an Ohio 4-H project develops important work habits that are essential to workforce skills.
More than 4,400 Ohio 4-H members were selected by their county 4-H programs to move onto project judging at the Ohio State Fair this year. Over 12 days, youth ages 8-19 have a one-on-one interview with a judge where they detail the process involved with their project, displaying a poster, notebook, and other artifacts of their efforts. They are evaluated on their knowledge, communication, and Ohio 4-H participation.
“Through their project work, Ohio 4-H members not only explore and deepen their knowledge about topics that interest them, but also develop essential life skills that lay the foundation for educational and career success,” said Kirk Bloir, state 4-H leader and assistant director, Ohio State University Extension. “From goal setting to public speaking, to learning the importance of teamwork, 4-H helps grow tomorrow’s thinkers, innovators, and entrepreneurs.”
“Ohio is becoming a tech hub for the future, so it is important to allow youth to see technology as a powerful tool for creating and doing, and not just a screen to stare at.”Mark Light, Ohio 4-H STEM and digital engagement leader.
Ohio 4-H, the youth development arm of OSU Extension, offers 4-H programs to youth in all 88 of Ohio’s counties. Ohio 4-H inspires curiosity, fuels adventure, and develops the lifelong skills for youth. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).
These skills are spotlighted on 4-H Workforce Preparation Day. The focus is on projects that detail a first paid job, dealing with others in a work setting, and agricultural careers. 4-H’ers will also compete for recognition by participating in a mock job interview.
In addition to honing their soft skills, young fairgoers can explore the 4-H Mobile Design Lab. The 35-foot bus is filled with tech tools where visitors can program a Dobot robot to pick up blocks, learn to code game commands, and create digital music and art.
“Ohio is becoming a tech hub for the future, so it is important to allow youth to see technology as a powerful tool for creating and doing, and not just a screen to stare at,” said Mark Light, Ohio 4-H STEM and digital engagement leader. The 4-H Mobile Design lab travels throughout Ohio to allow youth to explore and try new technology.