Peggy Sanders: Confluence Chronicles 8-20-12
County, regional and state fairs are coming into season this time of year. Along with the carnivals, food on a stick and hot weather there are lots of memories on which to ponder.
The best change I have seen with non-livestock entries is the interview judging process. The way it works is the 4-Her sits down face to face with the judge to talk about the completed project. This gives the 4-Her an opportunity for “public” speaking because they often do not know the judge. It allows the judge to ask questions such as what was your favorite part of doing this entry, the hardest part, what was learned and so on. Having been a judge for several years it is a wonderful way to find out if the entrant actually did the project. If they can’t explain it, even in a rudimentary way, then it seems mighty suspicious that someone else did the work. Especially with younger members I expect them to have assistance and to feel free to tell the judge why the help was needed. I did a practice run through with a grandgirl who is a beginning 4-Her before her interviews and that helped her enjoy the experience of being judged. The important things are that the 4-Hers learns from the interviews, is encouraged by the judge and has a pleasant experience. I am not sure if interview judging is nationwide but I hope it is.
It is a huge improvement over when I was a youngster. Back in the dark ages the exhibit hall was locked all day while the judging went on. I remember going in to see the placing on a western suit I had worked so hard on. I did it all by myself, struggled through it, designed the yoke on the vest and I was proud of the suit — until I saw it had garnered a white ribbon. A white? Really? Even then I thought a white ribbon was for an incomplete project or one that completely blew off the guidelines and rules. I had set my head to getting a red ribbon, but of course hoped for a blue; I knew it wasn’t a purple, championship quality. Had we used interview judging then, I could have told how I created the yoke and whatever was right or wrong with it was completely my doing. The judge would have likely given me hints to improve my sewing and that would have done me a world of good. Even if the white ribbon was given, I would have had feedback to let me know why.
All in all, interview judging is my best memory of 4-H.
Peggy Sanders was a 4-H and open class judge for several years as well as a nine year 4-H member. Her internet latchstring is out at Peggy@PeggySanders.com. ❖