Welcome to The Blue Ribbon - Youth Livestock Projects blog. The purpose of this blog is to provide information, advice and suggestions for improving youth livestock projects from multiple sources. The information, advice and suggestions in this blog come from professional agricultural educators who have multiple years of experience working with youth and their livestock projects. If you ever have a question or a particular subject you would like addressed, please feel free to contact Scott Stinnett via email, or leave a comment and we will do our best to assist or address the subject. Should the question or subject be more technical, we will help direct you to an appropriate resource for the best possible answer.

Thank you,

Scott Stinnett and The Blue Ribbon Contributors

Friday, February 17, 2017

Setting SMART Goals for Your Livestock Project

     One of the main portions of both the 4-H and FFA record books is an area for writing down some goals. These goals are to help you focus your efforts toward a desirable end. As part of theses goals you must know where you are, know where you want to end, and have an idea of how you will get there. Setting SMART goals is a method that can be used by youth to help them focus. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. Let's look at how youth can set SMART goals for their projects.


     For something to be specific, it needs to focus on just one thing. Many times you want to have broad goals. You should focus on one aspect of your broad goal. It may take multiple SMART goals to equal the main broad goal.


     For something to be measurable, it needs to have a way to show there has been change. It must be objective, which means the measurement is not a matter of opinion, but can be proven.


     This may be the hardest or easiest to determine. Some kids dream big, others aim low so they can succeed. You really need to set a goal that is attainable, but makes you improve or shoot for the next level.


     Realistic means there is the possibility to reach the goal by yourself. You can do it without needing extra effort or resources from someone else for you to reach your goal.


     Timely means the goal can be achieved in a certain amount of time. Time may be part of the realistic portion of the goal. Ask yourself, how quick could I do this? How long should I work on this goal? For most record books, there is a place for short and long term goals. Short term goals should be attainable within the year. Long term goals take more than a year or even multiple years to attain.


     Here are a few examples of some SMART Goals a youth might have for their livestock project:

          Short Term Goals
  • Be able to catch, halter and walk my steer from the barn to the road and back by April 1st.
  • Before we go to the first jackpot show in June, be able to drive my show pigs from their pen to the practice ring without them stopping to root dirt.
  • Shear all my own sheep with just Dad's help holding their legs for me this year.
  • Practice showmanship three times a week with my goat so I can make the top cut at the county fair this year.
  • Build a new shed for my lambs this summer with money from selling this year's lamb crop.
  • Breed my show gilt to farrow in January, and raise my own show pigs for next year.
  • Go to a showmanship camp and learn to clip my own steer for the county fair this year.
  • Buy three ewes to add to my flock with my winnings from this year's sheep shows.
  • Learn to AI this spring, so I can breed my own cows and heifers in my herd and increase the quality of calves I sell next spring.
          Long Term Goals
  • I plan to build my flock to 40 ewes by my last year in 4-H. I will then sell the flock to help pay for my college expenses.
  • I will save the profit from each steer I sell at the next four county fairs to pay for my expenses to go to Citizenship Washington Focus the summer between my Junior and Senior year of school.
  • I want to show all four species, cattle, sheep, goats and pigs, so I will be familiar with each. I plan to study veterinary medicine when I go to college, and become a large animal vet. 

Youth know what they want to accomplish with their projects and in their lives. Using SMART goals is a great way to make those goals more easily realistic, understandable and hopefully attainable.

Scott Stinnett
Extension Associate
Kit Carson County
Golden Plains Area
Colorado State University Extension

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