Life skills gained from animal judging

Youth involved in 4-H and FFA have the opportunity to participate in contests that are related to animal judging or evaluation. This article will explore what youth gain from participating in these experiences.

One of the main and most important things youth gain from animal judging or evaluation is life skills. Most youth involved in judging are also involved in the animal industry that relates to the contest they are going to participate in. They either grew up on a farm or may be raising animals for their 4-H projects. Ultimately, they all have something in common, and that is the love of looking at great animals.

As youth start learning the skill of judging or evaluating, they are also learning many other skills that come along with this experience. First, they have to learn how to communicate. Youth can’t just place the animals in the order they like – first place, second place, third place and fourth place. They must explain to the judges why they placed them the way they did. Communicating in the judging competition is called oral reasons. Oral reason scores represent a portion of the final score for the individual, so developing those communication skills is really important.

Second, youth are learning decision making. Youth learn the standards of each of the breeds. They must make decisions by comparing the four animals they are looking at against the breed standards they have learned. Through giving oral reasons to a contest official, they have to justify their decision.

Self-esteem is another life skill that is gained from judging experiences. Young adults are building their self-esteem every time they get in front of a judge to speak or work with their coach on placing.

These three life skills are just a few of the many other life skills that can be developed while involved in 4-H. All of these life skills are transferable in many other areas of their life. Whether it is presenting a class project or going to a job interview, young adults involved in judging and 4-H are developing life skills to aid them in real life situations.

To find out more information about judging and how to get your children involved in 4-H, contact your local Michigan State University Extension office.

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