Life Skills Learned by 4-H Judging Teams

Photo by Lizzie Whitehead, Bradford County Extension Livestock Agent
Photo by Lizzie Whitehead, Bradford County Extension Livestock Agent

Life Skills Learned by 4-H Judging Teams
by Tamara Dinkins, Agriculture Extension Office Administrator
Lizzie Whitehead, Livestock Agent
UF/IFAS Bradford County Extension

Do you remember your first big purchase? For me, it was a car. I spent hours comparing features and prices. I studied and researched to find the best value for my money and my needs before buying. If I had not spent that time in preparation, I may have bought the shiniest or the sportiest vehicle, but not the one that would last the longest, be the safest, or be the best for my budget.

The kind of decision making that went into my car purchase involved important life skills that all youth need to develop before becoming adults. 4-H members can develop these critical competencies through various aspects of the program, one of which is participating on a judging team. Judging teams help youth develop critical thinking, logical decision making, problem solving, public speaking and self-confidence. The team experience is also a wonderful way to learn leadership, explore possible careers, travel, make new friends, and have fun!
Florida 4-H offers a variety of judging team options for youth ages 8 to 18 from Consumer Choices/LifeSmarts to Horticulture to Livestock and more.

4-H judging teams are short-term, intensive trainings in a particular subject matter area. The goal of the trainings is to learn new information and skills and compete using this knowledge at judging team contests. Judging teams are typically comprised of three or four youth in the same age division who are from the same county. Each judging contest has its specific rules and activities; however, the basic components of a judging contest include identification, judging classes (ranking them from highest to lowest), and oral reasons (verbally explaining why he/she ranked the classes they way they did).

Many 4-H judging contests have national contests associated with them. If youth are willing to put in the time and effort to develop skills in one of the contests, they may have the opportunity to travel across the country with 4-H and interact with industry leaders. This can lead to relationships which can benefit youth in their future careers.

Bradford County 4-H has recently had some great success with its judging teams. The Bradford County 4-H Livestock Judging Team won the State 4-H Livestock Judging Contest this past April. The team consisted of four senior 4-H’ers who have worked hard and practiced weekly to sharpen their skills and be competitive at the state contest. They also placed in the senior and intermediate divisions at the Alachua County Fair Contest, Putnam County Fair Contest, Union County Fair Contest, and the Bradford County Fair Contest this past Spring. This upcoming Fall, they will travel to the National 4-H Livestock Judging Contest in Louisville, Kentucky at the National North American International Livestock Exposition.

Be on the lookout for more from the Bradford County 4-H program in the coming months. 4-H is open to all youth ages 5-18. Enrollment in the new 4-H year begins September 1, 2023. Call the Bradford County Extension Office at (904) 966-6224 for more information.


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Posted: July 6, 2023

Category: 4-H & Youth, Agriculture, Blog Community, EDUCATION, Livestock, UF/IFAS, UF/IFAS Extension

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