Credit: Amanda Loman (Cropped from original)

Contest Judges

Many 4-H projects culminate annually in one or more contests and competitions. While 4-H focuses on positive youth development, contests are a great way for 4-H'ers to get competitive, work together, and test out their skills at a county, statewide, or national level.

To facilitate the contests, judges with skills and knowledge are always necessary!

Types of Evaluation

Project judging. The judge evaluates the finished products against a set of standards without the member present. The focus is the quality of the project itself and not the learning process. Comments are provided to the participant in writing, usually on a score sheet.

Performance judging. The judge evaluates how a 4-H’er accomplishes a task or goal in progress. The judge looks for skills being used, as well as evaluating the end result. This type of event enables the 4-H’er and the judge to see how the performance directly effects the end product. Comments are often provided verbally and also in writing on a score sheet.

Interview. The judge interviews the participant as he/she evaluates the product against a set of standards. The pur-pose of this judging is to determine what the 4-H’er learned in completing the project. Comments are provided verbally and also in writing on a score sheet.

Qualities and Skills of Great Judges

Judges are selected for their knowledge and their interest in helping youth. Judges need to:

  • Understand the 4-H mission and values.
  • Evaluate both effort and results.
  • Follow established criteria without bias.
  • Be consistent and fair in their judgments.
  • Provide constructive feedback that promotes learning and growth.
  • Focus on youth development rather than just awards.

The Danish System of Judging in 4-H

In 4-H, most judging involves the Danish system of judging. This means we do not judge one 4-H'er's work by comparing it to another’s. Instead, w evaluate against a standard. A judge looks to see whether requirements are met. Often a score sheet is used, available from the county 4-H office.

If the work meets high standards, it receives an excellent rating and blue ribbon. A red ribbon signifies very good work. Yellow ribbons are given for work of good quality that will benefit from further improvements. A white ribbon signifies work meets standards well enough to be shown, but is only fair quality.

One advantage of this system is that everyone whose work fulfills minimum qualification can receive a ribbon. There is no limit, for example, to the number of blue ribbons that can be given out in any given competition, class, or county. The purpose of using the Danish judging system is to give every 4-H member the recognition deserved for the work that was done. It also helps young people recognize the need to improve their skills and to “make the best better.”

Peer Competition

While Danish judging focuses on set standards, other judging compares the work of one 4-H’er to another. This is peer competition. This type of judging may be used to select the “best” projects within a class. An example of this would be awarding a “Best in Show” rosette to the photo with the highest score in a photo judging contest. In some projects, such as horse shows, participants are ranked against one another and given placings, such as 1st, 2nd, 3rd place, etc.

Training Materials

Judges Lists

Horse Judges Materials

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