Hopefully soon the warm weather will be here to stay. Not far behind will be the end of school and the start of summer break.

It will seem as though the warm sunny days will stretch on forever. For 4-Hers, the Fair isn't until July. That's a long time away, isn't it?

As most experienced 4-H families will tell you, get started on those 4-H projects now because there isn't much time!

As we all know, summers are filled with baseball practice, yard work and family vacations, among many other activities. In order to cope with these activities, plus manage to attend 4-H activities and complete 4-H projects in time for the fair, it is important to manage your time.

With 4-H, parents and their children alike must carefully plan their schedules. Parents, you must be available or help make arrangements for transportation to meetings and workshops. You must also help by picking up items needed from the store or by assisting your 4-Hers with their projects. In all fairness, 4-Hers, you must let your parents know well in advance what items you need for your projects and the dates you will need transportation.

The first step in managing your time is to bring out your calendar. Parents and 4-Hers, sit down together and mark the dates of deadlines or activities that pertain to you. A good source of 4-H activity dates is the newsletter, 4-H Express, which lists all of the county dates and many local club activity dates. Remembering and planning for activities will be much easier once they are on the calendar where it is easy to see when everything will occur. Adjustments can then be made to the plans or arrangements made so that everyone will be able to attend their activity.

A second step to take in managing your time is to look through the 4-H project manuals and plan the activities you will need to do to complete the projects. Determine how much time each activity will take and the items you will need for it. Many projects, poster projects for example, may be completed easily on one try if plans are carefully made before you start. It's often easier to put the poster together if you draw a picture first of how you want it to look when it's finished. Then, take your time. Hurrying often causes mistakes to occur. If you allow yourself plenty of time, you can walk away from the project for a while to think about your ideas or rest.

Other projects, such as foods, may need practice to get the best results. Learning new baking or preserving techniques often takes time and several attempts to get them just right. Also, you may want to try several recipes to find the best one to exhibit. If you make a batch of cookies or yeast rolls that are exceptionally good, freeze them so you will have them to exhibit if they turn out to be your best try.

It is important to plan for your animal projects, too. Work with your animal each day as training cannot occur overnight. Your animal has a lot to learn and it will need al lot of practice in order to behave the way you want it to at the fair. Also, you will need to schedule dates with the veterinarian if vaccinations or tests are needed before the fair. Read your 4-H INFO Book carefully for any veterinary information you will need.

A tried and true technique to managing your time is to set your goals and make a list. Number the goals you have in order of priority. Start through them and continue working until they are all completed. Checking off the things you have done will give you a sense of accomplishment and will make your tasks seem a lot more manageable. Before you know it, you will have everything done and, if you're lucky, you'll have a little breathing time before the fair arrives!

It is important to remember, parents, that your 4-Her will need your help and guidance in completing his or her projects. Give support, encouragement, guidance and helpful assistance, but allow your 4-Her to make his or her own project. Even if the project is not the best one at the fair, if it is the best one the 4-Her can make, then you both should be very proud.

Sherry Legg Young is the Extension Educator for 4-H Youth Development at Purdue Extension Montgomery County.