Project Story Guidelines

Use these guidelines to write your project story for a CAP project or any other project with the story page not in the project book.

“Begin with the end in mind.” Steven Covey

  • The 4-H project story is one of the biggest keys in assisting you in achieving your project completion goal, and earning what you deserve.
  • The project story is the road map to help the judge understand where they are going when judging your project. It will guide them in their decision making process.
  • It is important for you to provide as much detail as possible so that they make the right “judgment” regarding what you earned through your work.

Otherwise, it is like giving them this map and telling them to drive from New York to Los Angeles. You need to provide them with the details on how to get there.

Goal of the Project Story

For you to provide a clear, written description of what you wanted to learn through the project, what you learned in the process, and how you will use it in the future.

Hints and Tips

  • Judges have a certain level of expertise in the subject matter, so be sure to use terms with which they will be familiar.
  • Since Exhibit Judges will read your project story, your story will be used to answer some of their questions regarding your project exhibit.
  • Judges will be trained to look for what you learned in the process and what you may do differently as a result of your experience.
  • Keep a journal (notes) of the different steps of your project over the duration of the process and use them when writing your story.
  • Write a rough draft and use paragraph form instead of one big block of words when writing. Each paragraph should convey an idea, not a run on of multiple ideas.
  • Check for spelling and punctuation.
  • All judges are different. The reality is, some may be more strict than others or they may focus on different things.
  • Type it on a computer or handwrite it in a clear manner and uniform type or font. If it is messy and difficult to read, the judge is more likely to deduct points.
  • Read your story out loud. Ask others read your story. Record yourself reading it and play it back to yourself. Practice your story like it is speech. Work with one of your peers and read each other’s stories and provide one another with feedback and suggestions.

4-H Project Story Outline

1. Goal Statement

  • What is the reason you picked this project?
  • What did you want to get out of completing this project? Think of it in terms of:
    • Knowledge
    • Skills
    • Attitudes

Guideline

One paragraph, two to three clear sentences.

Example:

I picked the Small Engine Project because I wanted to learn how to maintain and repair lawn mowers for my family and for myself when I get older. I also wanted to learn more about this skill for a possible job in the future.

2. What I Learned

Provide details of the knowledge gained and the skills you developed in the process. Pick good action verbs to show the judge what you learned. Try to add in the cost factors of the project as well.

  • Detail - Explanation.
  • Detail - Explanation.
  • Detail - Explanation.

Guideline

At least two clear details (three will provide a really good overview for the judges to get a clear understanding of what you learned.

Example:

During the cake decorating project, I learned that it can be expensive to get the supplies to decorate cakes. During a field trip to a cake decorating shop, we priced all of the basic supplies needed to start out. After pricing all of the items I would need, the cost that I came up with was$XX.00.

3. Challenges and Rewards

Ask yourself several questions and answer them. What was the greatest challenge I faced while completing this project, and how did I overcome it? What did I like the best while completing this project?

Guideline

One paragraph for each Detail – Explanation

Example (Challenge):

The biggest challenge I had with my knitting project was that I had a hard time starting my project on my own. I met with my project leader and we practiced starting my scarf, taking it out, and starting over until I could do it on my own without her help. Now, I can start knitting projects on my own.

Example (Reward):

There were several things I really got out of this project. I feel good because I was able to complete a scarf on my own after not knowing how to knit to begin with. Also, I made a scarf for my grandmother as a present, and she loved the fact that I made it on my own.

4. Explain your exhibit

This will help the exhibit judge make decisions regarding your project that is on display. This can help explain something that may not look just right and will help them answer questions that come to mind in the process.

Guideline

Use a paragraph for each Detail – Explanation you decide to use. Let them know that you know what the requirements are.

Example:

My project display is mounted on a 24 inch by 36 inch poster board and the required six items (list them) are presented.

Example:

(to answer a potential question from the judge)

My model rocket is on display and you will see that one of the fins doesn’t quite look like the other two. One fin had broken off during the required launch for the project, and I had to reattach it. After I attached it and used touch up paint to match the others fins, the paint didn’t adhere to the glue like it did on the other ones.

5. Conclusion

What are your final thoughts? Was this worthwhile? What will you do as a result of this project? What life skills did you develop from completing this project?

Example:

When I started this Sport Fishing Project, I wanted to learn how to catch fish. I learned how to catch fish as well as learned how to figure out what baits to use and the structure fish use to hide in.

I also learned that it is important for us to protect our waterways from pollution so the fish won’t die. I am going to take my new fishing skills and teach my younger brother to fish.

or

I believe that every project is worthwhile as a person can learn new skills from everything. For me, I learned that decorating cakes is a lot more difficult than I thought and that this isn’t for me. Maybe someday I will try it again, but for now I know that it is just too frustrating.

or

The Computer I Project book was almost too simple or easy for me. After completing this project, I met with the 4-H staff to review the next level, and I decided that there were things about computers in that book that I haven’t learned yet. My goal is to take Computer II next year.

4-H Project Story

1. Goal Statement

  • What is the reason you picked this project?
  • What did you want to get out of completing this project? Think of it in terms of:
    • Knowledge
    • Skills
    • Attitudes

2. What I Learned

Provide details of the knowledge gained and the skills you developed in the process. Pick good action verbs to show the judge(s) what you learned. Try to add in the cost factors of the project as well.

  • Detail - Explanation.
  • Detail - Explanation.
  • Detail - Explanation.

3. Challenges and Rewards

Ask yourself the following questions and answer them.

What was the greatest challenge I faced while completing this project, and how did I overcome it? What did I like the best while completing this project?

4. Explain your exhibit

This will help the exhibit judge make decisions regarding your project that is on display. This can help explain something that may not look just right and will help them answer questions that come to mind in the process.

5. Conclusion

What are your final thoughts? Was the project worthwhile? What will you do as a result of this project? What life skills did you develop from completing this project? How will it help you?

4-H Project Story (Sample)

I picked the Small Engine Project because I wanted to learn how to maintain and repair lawn mowers for my family and for myself when I get older. I also wanted to learn more about this skill for a possible job in the future.

One of the most important things that I learned was the safety related steps in working with lawn mowers. Before I started working on my mower, I first pulled the spark plug wire off of the spark plug so it wouldn’t get an electrical charge by accident. Next my father helped me drain the gasoline out of the mower before we sharpened the blades, so the gas wouldn’t leak out of the mower when we tilted it over.

Another important point I learned was to “block” the mower blade with a two by four block so it wouldn’t rotate while I used a wrench to loosen the bolt holding the blade on the mower. By using this block, it held the blade in place so it wouldn’t spin and cut me.

The biggest challenge I had was to make sure that I had all of the tools I needed to complete the project. While I was preparing to do maintenance, I realized that my father didn’t have the mower blade cone that is used to see if the blade is balanced after we ground a sharp edge on both sides of the blade.

I also needed a spark plug gap gauge to make sure that the gap in the new spark plug was right. I had to call around to family members in order to borrow the tools necessary so I didn’t have to buy them.

When I went to Wal*Mart with my dad, I checked the prices of these two tools. The cost of a mower blade cone was $3.50 and a spark plug gap gauge cost $4.25. If I wouldn’t have been able to borrow this equipment it would have cost me $7.75. When I am older, I will add these items to my own collection.

One of the biggest rewards for me was being able to spend time with my dad working on things around the house. He talked me through the steps but let me do it by myself.

I created a poster display that is the required size of 24” by 36”. While working on the project, I took digital photos showing the different steps necessary to do routine maintenance and mounted them in order of the steps. They are numbered with a title of the task. The next time, I would take “close-up” pictures to show the steps in greater detail.

For me, this was a great project. I learned basic steps to small engine maintenance and safety, and I also got to spend time with my dad doing projects around the house.

I intend to take Small Engines II next year, and I also want to explore this as a possible job in the future.

4-H Project Story

(Read the project story sample and answer these questions)

  1. What was the Goal Statement?
  2. What did he learn?
  3. What challenges did he face? What were his rewards?
  4. How did he explain his exhibit?
  5. How did he conclude his story?