Visitors to the Nebraska State Fair — Aug. 28 to Sept. 7 in Grand Island — can view more than 10,000 4-H exhibits from 2,500 exhibitors, representing all 93 Nebraska counties. In many cases, these exhibits represent the first step in a career path for Nebraska youth.
4-H research has shown that the hands-on learning gained through these projects is more effective than traditional classroom lectures at getting youth excited about careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Exhibits will be displayed in more than 40 project areas, including animals, foods, clothing and textiles, robotics, computers, the environment, veterinary science, heritage and leadership.
“Working on projects for the fair gives 4-H youth the opportunity to discover areas they’d like to learn more about and cultivate their skills,” said Shane Potter, assistant extension educator in 4-H youth development. “The Nebraska State Fair is the capstone event for 4-H’ers to showcase their educational experiences that have taken place in the past year.”
4-H also helps identify academic focus areas that will get youth one step closer to their careers. At the fair, youth can participate in their first class from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln through Nebraska’s Largest Classroom, a self-guided field trip where students and teachers can take part in activities and educational content. Nebraska 4-H and UNL academic departments will lead activities. The classroom will be open Aug. 31 to Sept. 2.
In addition to 4-H exhibits, several free interactive activities for kids will be available to fair visitors. This includes exploring biological systems engineering, “ag-citing” science, animal science, healthy lifestyles, community engagement and early childhood development activities through The Learning Child.
Visitors can download the Nebraska State Fair 4-H app to keep track of events, results and news, and to view a map. The app also can be used to play the Seek and Scan game, which allows visitors to scan symbols on signs next to more than 50 exhibits to unlock videos.
The fair also will include:
> A showcase of youth participating in the 4-H Food Smart Families program, from 5 to 7 p.m. Sept. 1 in the Raising Nebraska building. The program, sponsored by the National 4-H Council and the ConAgra Foods Foundation, equips families to make healthy living part of their everyday lives through nutrition education, cooking skills and food budgeting skills. Nebraska 4-H is working with 13 Nebraska Extension offices across the state to guide 2,750 youth through the program. The program includes youth ambassadors mentored by Nebraska Extension professionals at each program site. Youth participants will showcase what they have learned, including food preparation and food budgeting skills.
> The UNL Food Processing Center’s food-sampling display in the FFA-4H building. Many Nebraska favorites, along with newly introduced products, will be available for tasting from more than 10 food companies. Products include salsa, pasta, pickles, soups, lemonade, seasoning blends, jellies, sauces, beef jerky, popcorn, salad dressings, sunflower seeds and marinades. Companies scheduled to participate include: Preferred Popcorn, Chapman; Hiland Dairy Co., Grand Island; Barn Candle Company, Kiehl and Stroh Co., Hastings; Balabans, Henderson; Hill’s Sunflower Seed Co., Punkindoodle Foods, and Smoking Gun Jerky & Marinade, Lincoln; Holen One Farms, Loomis; Sweet Heat Peppers, Omaha; and Country Rhoads, Superior.
> UNL Red Out Day on Sept. 6. Starting at noon, free Husker bags will be available for guests at the main entrance. Various UNL departments will provide hands-on activities for youth from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Family Fun Activity Center. A Husker pep rally on the Family Fun Zone Stage will take place at 3 p.m. Fans can hear the beatboxing skills of DeWayne and cheer along with UNL cheerleaders and Lil’ Red.