Being a 4-H judge can be rewarding not only for the judge, but also for the contestants who take part in the many events the organization produces. To be an effective judge, it takes training. Shelly Ramus notes that "judges are an invaluable part of the 4-H experience, as they are key to helping 4-H members learn and growth through their project and showcase experience." Ramus is the 4-H volunteer development specialist at Iowa State University.
To bring in new judges, and offer a refresher for veteran volunteers, ISU Extension and Outreach 4-H Youth Development is hosting free statewide virtual judges training for anyone interested in becoming a judge. To judge 4-H exhibits at any county fair or state fair event, training is required and available for free. The training content applies to all static judges and all categories.
"We have a large database of current judges, but we are always looking to grow our Iowa 4-H judges capacity," Ramus tells Farm Progress. "We have a large number of judges who have judged for many years; as judges choose to retire from this role, we need to continue to reach new judges."
She explains that the virtual program "Evaluate, Educate and Encourage — Your Role as a 4-H Judge" training is aimed at new judges. "However, we also find value in seasoned judges attending this training as well, as there is updated information included that they may not have had in their initial training," Ramus says.
Each county has different needs for judges based on the number of 4-H youth exhibiting at their fair. "Some of our counties recruit four judges, and some recruit more than 40 judges," Ramus explains. "It takes a large pool of judges with experience and expertise in a wide range of project areas to meet these needs."
The key is having a diverse pool of trained judges. "Young people need to interact with judges who are qualified and have experience in their project area," Ramus adds. "We also need judges located all across the state, with varying availability to meet the wide variety of county fair judging days and times."
Check out the training schedule
What follows is a list of training events including links to register:
• Iowa 4-H Judges FCS Content Area Training . 7 to 8 p.m. Jan. 4. Register for the Jan. 4 training online at form.jotform.com/212786356940161.
• Iowa 4-H Judges Communications Training for Static Judges. 7 to 8 p.m. Jan. 6. Register for the Jan. 6 training online at form.jotform.com/212766196515058.
• Iowa 4-H Judges Photography Training. 7 to 8 p.m. Jan. 11 Register for the Jan. 11 training online at form.jotform.com/212794468164162.
• Iowa 4-H Judges Personal Development Training for Static Judges. 7 to 8 p.m. Jan. 13. Register for the Jan. 13 training online at form.jotform.com/212766858890069.
• Evaluate, Educate and Encourage — Your Role as an Iowa 4-H Static Judge. For all Iowa 4-H judges, new and returning. 9 to 11 a.m. Jan. 15. Register for the Jan. 15 training online at form.jotform.com/212766673323055.
• Iowa 4-H Judges Science, Engineering and Technology Training. 7 to 8 p.m. Jan. 18. Register for the Jan. 18 training online at form.jotform.com/212766247919063.
• Iowa 4-H Judges Visual Arts — Design, Elements and Arts Training. 7 to 8 p.m. Jan. 20. Register for the Jan. 20 training online at form.jotform.com/212766448898072.
• Iowa 4-H Judges Clothing Training. 7 to 8 p.m. Jan. 25. Register for the Jan. 25 training online at form.jotform.com/212775932355058.
• Iowa 4-H Judges Copyright Training. 7 to 8 p.m. Jan. 27. Register for the Jan. 27 training online at form.jotform.com/212776365131051.
• Iowa 4-H Judges Food and Nutrition Training. 7 to 8 p.m. Feb. 1. Register for the Feb. 1 training online at form.jotform.com/212776309470055.
• Iowa 4-H Judges Panel and Completing Preference Forms Training. 7 to 8 p.m. Feb. 3. Register for the Feb. 3 training online at form.jotform.com/212776025394055.