Recordkeeping is a rewarding process. For a youth, it may be a daunting process. It can be time consuming to complete. Youth participating in 4-H are encouraged to keep records annually through a 4-H Recordbook. The primary purpose of completing a recordbook is for youth to develop the skills necessary to set goals, work toward achieving those goals, reflect on his/her experiences, and set new and higher goals for themselves. A secondary benefit is to prepare youth for the process of completing quality academic scholarship applications, and potential career applications.
A 4-H recordbook may consist of information a 4-H member records tracks over the course of their 4-H year. Youth document goals, knowledge and skills gained, leadership experiences, awards earned, and service in his/her community.
Three tips will help jump start the annual 4-H recordbook process instead of waiting until the last minute to meet county deadlines.
1. Goal Setting
Prior to or at the beginning of the 4-H year, a member should begin identifying, setting and recording personal goals for themselves. Documenting these goals, allows youth to begin working toward achieving them. Examples of goals may might be taking a leadership role in their club, learning a new project area, or leading a community service activity. Youth can find assistance from their 4-H leader and parents to help determining interests they would like to complete.
When writing simple goals, a goal should have three main components: an action, a result and a timetable. For example: “I want to give a demonstration at my 4-H club meeting.” In this example, “to give” is the action, “a demonstration” is the result, and “at the 4-H club meeting” is the deadline to accomplish the goal.
Youth can utilize S.M.A.R.T goals.
- Specific: Well defined, clear to anyone that has basic knowledge of the project.
- Measurable: Know if the goal is obtainable and how far away completion is.
- Attainable: Find out when you have achieved your goal.
- Relevant: Within the availability of resources, knowledge and time.
- Time-based: Enough time to achieve the goal.
After goals have been set, start documenting information to start completing goals. Complete project worksheets, such as animal or static exhibits throughout the year. Pictures and newspaper clippings well assist in showcasing your accomplishments. Utilize a calendar to keep track of meetings, events and activities. This can be very handy when filling out scholarship application in high school.
At the end of each goal or project, take time to reflect on the process. Throughout the year, goals may change. When you reflect, think about these possible questions:
- Were you able to accomplish your goal(s)?
- How do you feel about what you have learned?
- What ideas would you like to build on for next year?
Record keeping is a process that can be used throughout life in many ways. Each year, a 4-H recordbook is utilized to document growth and accomplishment. Recognizing progress can instill confidence and pride in youth to help finish their goals and be more successful within their project.