Dear Fellow Nebraskans:
Summer is a great time to visit fairs and festivals held across our state. Nebraska's county fairs offer a wonderful opportunity to showcase the best of our state and highlight the agricultural heritage, achievements and talents of Nebraska producers, youth and hobbyists.
Nebraska is home to nearly 90 county fairs that offer a variety of experiences and traditions for families that feature livestock show competitions, demolition derbies and championship rodeo competitions. No matter what your age, there is something for everyone at the county fair, which includes the diverse culture that makes Nebraska unique.
I have visited many county fairs and the thing that stands out the most about the county fairs I have attended is the participation from our 4-H and FFA youth. Each year, 4-H provides our young people the opportunity to gain important life skills that help them become productive, capable, responsible and compassionate individuals. In Nebraska, one in three age-eligible youth in all 93 counties participate in 4-H programs - that is over 140,000 young people. By participating in 4-H, our young people gain skills in science, explore career choices, learn about healthy behaviors and understand the importance of agriculture in our state.
Our FFA youth are no different. There are over 6,600 FFA members participating in 157 FFA chapters across the state, including 8 new chapters for the 2014-2015 school year. Through their involvement in FFA, these young people are truly following the FFA motto of learning to do, doing to learn, earning to live and living to serve.
I continue to be impressed with the youth of our state. For those participating in county fair events, their determination, dedication and drive learned through fair projects is superb. Young people work on and share projects in a wide range of interests, from rocketry, technology, wildlife, photography, woodworking, and more. Thousands of others invest significant time and energy in learning to care for livestock.
County fairs offer our young people the opportunity to showcase their achievements of the past year, while also offering fairgoers an opportunity to experience family friendly entertainment -- from tractor pulls, to pie-baking contests, concerts and musical performances.
If it's your first visit to a fair, or whether you are a regular participant, I encourage you and your family to visit one of Nebraska's county fairs and festivals this year. A listing is available online from the Nebraska Association of Fair Managers at www.nebraskafairs.org.
The more than one million people who attend Nebraska's fairs and festivals each year can attest to the quality of life Nebraska has to offer. Our county fairs and festivals are an opportunity to experience the traditions and culture that make Nebraska a great place to live, work and raise a family.