4-H County Events #2- The Judges They Deserve

Over the holiday break I learned everything I ever wanted to know about organizing Pokemon cards.

It’s 4-H County Events season in our house. After weeks of trying to decide- my child finally chose to craft his Cloverbud demonstration on the topic of “Organizing Pokemon Cards.” (Please- do not ask me how this pertains to his 4-H project…I’m just happy he chose something).

Every evening, right after dinner, I’d sit (not always so patiently I’ll admit) with my child as we’d work on his demonstration. I’m already exhausted, more than a little over Pokemon, and we still have a few more weeks to go until County Events!

For many families- this is just the tip of the iceberg. For some Senior 4-H’ers their demonstration may represent weeks (if not years) of hard work. And for this, they deserve high quality judges at County Events. However, high quality judges take time to acquire. Some general things I recommend thinking about as you secure your judges for County Events (or any other 4-H activity):

• Look for judges year round, not a few weeks before the event. I recommend keeping a judges’ directory. Whenever you meet people who you think would be a good judge ask if you can keep their info on file and then contact them at least a month before the event to see if they are available. The next time you are at the dentist, and the hygienist mentions her previous 4-H involvement and how much she enjoyed it- get her name and number THEN! (Yes, this has happened to me more than once).

Who do you need to know about the good work your 4-H program is doing? Not getting enough coverage in the local newspaper? Ask the editor to judge. Trying to get more entrée into one of your schools? Invite the Principal to judge.

Who has the skills you need? Can the local Camera Club judge your photo entries? What about inviting a local newscaster or radio announcer to judge public speaking? (Believe it or not, they sometimes say yes- and it never hurts to ask! Even if they say no- you’ve made them aware of your program).

Make sure each room (or event) has three judges. Life happens! Sometimes a judge gets sick or has a last minute conflict, and you never want a judge tasked with judging a child by themselves with no other opinions (even for a critique). Planning for three judges ensures that this will not happen.

• Train your judges before they arrive. As soon as you have confirmed that your judges can attend send them all the relevant information they will need to know to judge successfully. Some may not read much of it until they arrive, but those who want too will feel more prepared.

Assign  someone to serve as the Judges’ Coordinator for the day (preferably not you, as you’ll need to be free to deal with any issues as they arise). This person should provide onsite judges’ orientation and be easy to locate all day should the judges have follow up questions.

Use the available judges’ training resources at: Judges’ Orientation Resources

Make your judges feel welcome. Enlist some of your older 4-H members in serving as greeters who can escort the judges to the Judges’ Orientation room. Have snacks (and coffee!) prepared. Welcome them personally yourself.

Thank your judges. A letter from a 4-H member after the event makes a great (and free) gift.


This entry was posted in Organizational Strategies, Uncategorized, Volunteer Development, Youth Development and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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