Competition has been used as a teaching method since the early years of Extension. As described in Unit 1 (History), Extension agents set up corn growing competitions as a method to reach adults through their children who were enrolled in club work. Youth, who tended to be more open to change, used the new agricultural techniques to grow an acre of corn right next to their father's. As the yields were figured for the corn contest, the child’s crop often out-yielded their father’s. What was the result? Using this competitive approach, the new agriculture practices were often adopted by the adults. Do these competitive strategies apply to 4-H today? If you said "yes" to this question, you are right; however, the main purpose of 4-H is to help young people learn life skills, not win first place in project events.
Photo: Marius, Virginia (1912)