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It’s no secret that some people are simply better at fishing than others. Nice equipment is helpful, but only in the hands of someone who knows how to use it. A $150 graphite fishing rod is a great tool, but it won’t catch a fish if the knot tied to the hook unravels because it was poorly tied by the fisherman.

4-H members who are passionate about a subject can learn these types of tips and details by putting what they are learning into action. It explains why 4-H employs a “Learn-By-Doing” philosophy and strives to expose young people to as many opportunities as possible to spark their passion. Mastery of a subject is one of the four essential elements of the 4-H positive youth development model of learning. The other three areas of Big-M are:  Belonging, Independence, and Generosity.

Have you ever seen a fisherman secure his hook or lure to the fishing rod guides instead of the "hook keeper" eye on their fishing rod? This fisherman has not mastered how to use their equipment. Why, you may ask? Fish hooks damage the rod guides where the line travels, which results in abrasions and nicks in the fishing line. These abrasions and nicks weaken the fishing line, making it easier to snap the line when under pressure.   Eventually, the final result is a lost fish.

Think about that lost fish. It’s now loose with a fish hook or lure embedded in its mouth and must continue to function in that mode or die trying.   A masterful fisherman would have landed that fish quickly (with wet hands to save the protective slime coating on the exterior of the fish) and decided then if he/she were keeping it for food or releasing it unharmed. But this sequence of events didn't happen due to the lack of understanding of the "hook keeper" eye. 4-H teaches and practices skills until mastery is achieved.  After all, it’s the details that lead to mastery.