For many, Oct. 1 is just another day of the week, but for new and returning 4-H members it marks the start of a new 4-H year. Youth across the state looking to don the 4-H clover should start considering enrollment and the 4-H projects in which they wish to participate. The appeal of 4-H comes from the ability of youth to explore many different topics and subject areas through their 4-H club work. However, with so many options, the task can be overwhelming, at best. Below are several steps to help 4-H youth in selecting projects for the new year.

Give yourself limits

Remember quality over quantity is always the preferred method. Start by selecting how many 4-H projects you can conceivably handle throughout the year, making note of your all-encompassing school and extracurricular activity schedule.

This number can certainly be flexible as you look to balance simple and complicated projects. For example, if one of the projects you are considering this year is to rebuild an old tractor, perhaps this isn’t the year to have 20 other projects.

Room for improvement

If you were in 4-H last year, were there any project areas that you would like to expand your knowledge on or possibly perfect? Using the judges’ comments from your county or state fair judging experience is a great place to see how you can do better.

For example, perhaps you exhibited a wood-burning project last year that wasn’t your greatest work, but the judges gave you some really great constructive feedback. This would be a great opportunity to take that advice and apply it to a new wood-burning project of a different type.

Find your spark

You should consider your passion areas or subjects that you wish to learn more about. There is certainly a 4-H project area available for almost any interest. The 4-H has projects ranging from agriculture, science, health & wellness, leadership and more. To learn more about the many different project areas we offer, visit Here you can browse project areas and learn about the many different ways you can be involved with each area.

Youth and families should contact their local 4-H office for the continued support of 4-H project selection or enroll in 4-H. The 4-H professionals are ready and willing to assist youth in finding the perfect niche for their 4-H experience. A list of county office locations can be accessed at

Hilary Risner is the Regional 4-H Youth Program advisor with the South Dakota State University Extension.

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