Regional judging competition gives students keys to victory

Jason Kerr
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Local 4-H members from across northeast Saskatchewan were in Prince Albert on Friday for the North East Regional 4-H Judging Competition.

The annual event gives 4-H members between the ages of six and 21 an opportunity to not only learn about what makes a prize winning steer or horse, but to identify and articulate which animals have those qualities.

The competitors are instructed by several different judges, most of who are former competitors themselves.

“These judges are helping them to develop that skill on their own,” event organizer Patty Soloducha says.  “This just helps them develop reasons on why they choose something versus something else.”

While the demands are different based on which one of the four different age groups the competitors are in, the main task is to identify the best animal and give an oral presentation backing their decision.  Competitors are judged on the reasons they give, as well as the terminology they use and their confidence and composure.

“That also helps them to get a sense of how to articulate themselves at an early age,” Soloducha explains.  “This goes from age six all the way to age 21, so we’re starting them young with this.”

Despite the name, not all of the competitors here will go on to become judges.  They will however, learn what judges look for so they can enter their best animals at 4-H competitions.

“Some of these kids will go on to be judges, but not necessarily all of them,” Soloducha says.  “Basically they’ll find out from going to this competition that everyone has their own opinion, so you have to learn how to defend your own opinion.”

Winners in the senior age category qualify for provincials, which will be held in Lloydminster this year.  If they win there they qualify for the international competition to be held at Agribition in the fall.

Members from the northeast region have actually won the international competition in the past.  Several of the judges at past Agribition competitions have also come from the area, so Soloducha says the area is well represented.

“We’ve had some really great success here, and some of our oral judges have been past participants of this clinic itself, so lots of our kids do go to be judges, or to be teachers.”

This year’s event wasn’t without some problems as poor winter road conditions delayed the arrival of the livestock for one hour.  Several out of town competitors also had to cancel because of road conditions, which is to be expected when they’re coming from as far away as Hudson Bay and Big River.

Still, Soloducha says the weather didn’t keep the event from being a success.

“These are farm people.  They’re used to this,” she says.  “Mother Nature throws you a blow, so you just kind of role with it and that’s what happened.”

Geographic location: Lloydminster, Hudson Bay, Big River

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