NDSU Extension - Nelson County


Nelson County Extension 

Nelson County Courthouse

210 B. Ave W. Suite 101

Lakota, ND 58344


Office Hours:  Monday - Friday 


Phone: (701)247-2521

Fax: (701)247-2412

| Share

Project vs. Exhibit

4-H Projects and 4-H Exhibits 

What is the Difference?


The Foundation of 4-H Learning

4-H projects are tools for teaching youth hands-on skills by developing their interests in certain areas.  A 4‐H project is an area of emphasis in which a 4‐Her enrolls, studies, learns and keeps records. The North Dakota 4‐H Project Guide lists all of the project areas in 4‐H that members may choose to enroll in. The ND 4-H Project Guide may be found online at here: 2018-19 Project Guide.

A 4‐H exhibit is an item resulting from project work that the 4‐Her has chosen to bring to the fair and have evaluated by a judge. For example: a 4‐Her may enroll in the gardening project area and choose to bring carrots to Achievement Day that he/she has grown in her garden. Exhibit offerings are found in the ND State Fair Exhibit Book, which is available at County Extension offices in the spring.


As another example, let’s suppose a 4-Her wants to learn about growing vegetables. He enrolls in the 4-H Gardening Project. He might set a goal to plan, plant, maintain and harvest a vegetable garden. Activities (including skills learned or practiced) in the Gardening Project can include:


• Plan and prepare the garden (Planning/Organizing)

• Harvest the garden (Marketable Skills)

• Share vegetables with others (Concern for Others, Community Service)

• Prepare vegetables for exhibition (Self-Motivation, Planning/Organizing, Follow Directions)


• Plant the garden (Wise Use of Resources)

 • Maintain the garden (Responsibility)

• Keep records on the experience (Record Keeping, Responsibility)

• Participate in conference judging at Achievement Day (Communication, Integrity)

You’ll notice that the exhibition of vegetables is only one step in this learning process. Hence, the 4-H project is the entire learning experience. The 4-H exhibit is just the portion of the project a 4-Her brings to Achievement Day. This is a subtle but important difference.  A member may have several exhibits all in the same project area: Food and Nutrition Project may have chocolate chip cookies, yeast bread and preserved tomatoes. When it is time to complete 4‐H records, all three of these exhibits would all be part of the Food & Nutrition Project write‐up.


Sometimes people think that earning ribbons and premiums from exhibiting at Achievement Days and State Fair is the purpose of 4-H.  As you can see by the example above, those people are missing most of the story. It is the learning experience that makes 4-H what it is – not just the exhibit. In fact, a 4-Her doesn’t need to bring an exhibit to fair at all to gain the life skills that make 4-H a quality experience for youth.


Exhibiting 4-H projects enables the public to learn what 4-H’ers are doing, helps members learn how they can improve their work, and gives members a sense of pride and accomplishment.


Why Don’t Cloverbuds Enroll in Projects?


There is a primary difference between a 4-H Cloverbud activity and a 4-H project. A Cloverbud member engages in varied activities which focus on developing a specific skill or concept to complete the activity. A 4-H project focuses on a long-term planned course of study in a specific project area.


 (Information adapted from Iowa State University Extension Publication 4H-4008D)


Creative Commons License
Feel free to use and share this content, but please do so under the conditions of our Creative Commons license and our Rules for Use. Thanks.