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At the turn of the 19th century, A.B. Graham - the founder of 4-H - observed that youth were not being treated very well. Youth were mistakenly viewed as mini adults which resulted in their exploitation for labor and commerce. Their only opportunity for personal development outside of church and school was through contests, most of which were over-focused on competition.  

As an early pioneer in organized youth development, Graham designed the 4-H program as a mix of activities and relationships to meet the appropriate developmental needs of young people. This well-rounded approach has stood the test of time! Today we build on that foundation by engaging youth in a variety of activities, including competitions. Our approach is ever mindful of Graham’s design, so even in competition a culture of positive youth development remains the highest good.

To discover the main venues that our 4-H'ers ‘get their competitive juices flowing', check out the links to our state 4-H competitive events below.

Group of teens filling out worksheet, 4-H, Livestock Skill-a-thon

State 4-H Livestock Judging and Skill-a-Thon

View resources and results from the State 4-H Livestock Judging and Skill-a-Thon competitions held Sept. 16–17, 2022 in Brookings, South Dakota.

4-H, Shooting Sports, Muzzleloading gun, Adolescent girl shoting a muzzleloading gun while 2 adolescent males watch

State Shooting Sports

View important dates, updates, results and resources for state shooting sports events.

two young males with their show goats at a competition

State Fair

View schedules, resources and results for the 2023 South Dakota State Fair taking place Aug. 31-Sept. 4 in Huron, South Dakota.

4-H youth being talking with judge during dog show

State Dog Show

View contestant resources and results for the State 4-H Dog Show.

Horse judging, 4-H, Horse Show

State Horse Show, Judging and Hippology

View contestant resources and results from the State 4-H Horse Show, Judging and Hippology contests.

4-H youth completing a dairy cattle judging scorecard.

State 4-H Dairy Cattle Judging

View resources and information for State 4-H Dairy Cattle Judging.

Upcoming Events

4-H ribbons and awards stacked on a table.
Jul 19

4-H County Achievement Days and County Fair Schedule

SDSU Extension's South Dakota 4-H program will be hosting county fairs and achievement days across South Dakota beginning in July 2023.