Job application and interview event added for older members.

About 80 4-H'ers participated in the first countywide event of the year on Saturday. at the fair in July, the emphasis will be on their projects — the cookies they've made, the pajamas they've sewn, the pictures they've taken or the livestock they have raised. At 4-H Day, the spotlight shines on the 4-H member.

"It gives them a chance to practice public speaking and parliamentary skills in front of a judge and get constructive feedback," County Extension Agent Jodi Drake said. "They're among family and friends, so it's a very safe environment. It's a learning experience."

All seven county 4-H clubs participated in a model meeting. It's encouraged, but not required, Drake said, and agents in other counties remark about Pratt's consistently high participation.

Judge Dennis McKinney, Greensburg, had nothing but good comments about the 4-H'ers and their ability to conduct business efficiently, Drake said.

Wyatt Schrag knows a lot about goats. They have a sense of humor, they're easy to work with and fun to watch. When he puts a ball in their pen, they like to play soccer. There are 40,000 goats in Kansas, it's the fastest growing livestock industry in the United States, even though you can't find goat meat at Dillons, and the meat goat project is the fastest growing 4-H livestock project in the state.

Several of the high school-aged members chose to give an extemporaneous talk instead of a prepared demonstration.

"I think they see it as an easy thing to do, because they don't have to prepare ahead of time," Drake said. "It's a lot harder than some of them think it is."

Participants draw from three categories: 4-H topics, social issues and current events, and then choose one to present after 10 minutes of preparation. Although she wasn't able to sit in on their speeches, she believes many of them choose the 4-H topic — "that's what a lot of them are passionate about," she said.

A new event this year was AIR, which stands for and application, interview and resume competition. Before the event on Saturday, high school 4-H'ers had to submit those items to the Extension office, just as if they were applying for a job. With that information in hand, a judge conducted an interview.

"We didn't feel they were getting that opportunity in any of their classes in high school," Drake said.

Responses to the new contest were positive, although some of the 4-H'ers told her they were really nervous, an indication they took the experience seriously.

Follow Carol Bronson on Twitter@CarolB_Tribune