Extension Review

Extension Review by Virginia Delvaux Clay County Extension educator School is out and the summer 4-H program is in full swing. Last week our Clay County 4-H members experienced project day, beginner judging school help session, a rabbit judging school, and seven teens attended Youth Conference at Brookings. Each of these experiences provides different life long learning experiences for our youth.

Judging is perhaps one experience that we often take for granted. Every day of our life, we must make decisions and judgments that affect the foods we eat, the clothes that we purchase, and the equipment we use in our businesses. Through judging a 4-H member learns to recognize good and poor quality in products, to make close observations, to compare and select wisely, and to improve their work.

Judging is the basis of selection that is developed through everyday experience via contact with quality products and practice in making choices.

There are no set rules for learning how to judge, but there are some aids for youth and adults to remember:

1. Learn the names, locations and relationships of all the parts of the product whether it is a livestock animal, a clothing item, an equipment item, horticulture or food item.

2. Learn how the ideal product looks. Start by studying models, actual products and pictures. Judging a class is simply a comparison among the entries, and a comparison of each product to the ideal.

3. Study the scorecard for the product and learn the value of points for general appearance and specific characteristics.

4. Take every opportunity to judge and analyze the product in comparison to the ideal. Decide what the strong and weak points are for each item.

5. Remember what you have judged, and use this experience to make future decisions.

Judging skills do not develop overnight, it takes time and practice. At county judging schools, youth are encouraged to develop a personal system that is comfortable to them. Participants are encouraged to read the situation statement, items to consider and to study judging resources before looking at the class samples. Their next step involves looking at the class from a distance. One experiences a better picture of the entire class by stepping back.

The next step is to make a temporary selection by looking for items that stand out. Observation of each sample or item in the class using all senses is the most important step.

And finally, make the final placement based on the judging criteria. After each participant has completed the above steps, they are instructed to record their placing on the official judging card. The card is then turned in and scored. Each score is based on how close the participant's placement compares to the official judges placement.

The official class placing in daily life represents the decisions we make when we make a major purchase or whether we make another selection. Sometimes the only difference between a judging school class decision and a real life choice is the length of time we have to make our decision.

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