Arizona's 4-H program has changed during the 100 years it's existed. It still offers the trademark livestock and agricultural programs shown at county fairs, but has expanded to include programs such as robotics, entrepreneurship and aerospace.
Despite bringing some changes, the programs still teach kids the same skills, said Kirk Astroth, the state director of 4-H programs.
”While they’re raising a hog or raising chickens or doing woodworking, they’re learning all these other skills, responsibility, respect, decision making, goal setting, and so it’s a little bit of a subtle education that they’re not quite aware of but that’s what happens in the program," he explained.
Students who have participated in the program cite a host of other life skills or lessons they've also learned.
”I’ve definitely learned responsibility, having to go out and take care of an animal, the animal depends on you," said Elizabeth Young, a high school 4-H participant. "You definitely learn respect for your elders and learning etiquette towards people and talking to judges."
Another life skill: saving money for future needs.
“I’d have to start the project with my own money and hope to at the end when we would sell them at the auction at least break even if not make a profit to invest in future years for projects in the future and ultimately build up a reserve and a savings to hopefully put myself through college, which thankfully I was able to do," said Russell Noon collegiate 4-H president.
Eliana Jordan, a 10-year-old who raised her first steer for 4-H competition this year, said she learned the basics:
"I think I’ve learned some responsibility and kind of what livestock need and what they eat," but she said she also learned things she can apply at the grocery store or the dinner table. When you’re eating meat, you know what it is."