Twenty-six pairs of eyes are on you as you stand at the front of the room with your poster board and notecards.
You clear your throat again, and stare at the first card.
For a moment, it all looks like gibberish instead of your 4-H project.
For so many of us, the start to our first 4-H demonstration was a lot like that.
This year, hundreds of fourth and fifth grade students followed in the tradition, presenting their 4-H demonstration, and for many—their very first presentation at all.
I’ve learned about anime characters, how to be an activist, how much sugar is in popular drinks, and all about panda bears.
We’ve also seen a lot of traditional projects, like the history of John Deere or how to show a 4-H calf.
But something has changed this year – how they go to competition.
I can still remember standing in a room at Porterdale Elementary for 4-H County Project Achievement, in front of what I truly believed was a thousand people as I presented my arts and crafts project.
I even remember one of my judges — 4-H alum Doug Hargrove—who later gave me the tip to speak without my notecards.
So I was hesitant to change up this 4-H tradition, but last year when it snowed and schools closed for several days, we were left with few options. Teachers and parents assisted with filming and we hosted our first virtual 4-H project achievement in Newton County.
There were some technical difficulties and bugs to work out, but in the end many children who might not have otherwise been able to compete took part.
And so, it inspired a new idea for this year: an all-video Project Achievement!
No more concerns over transportation, parents’ schedules, school night bedtimes, or ball games.
In December, 4-H staff will visit every 4-H club to video any student who wishes to enter the public speaking competition.
Each will strive to “Make the Best Better” by making improvements on the project they presented in the classroom in October or November.
We’ll upload the files and divide them into more than 50 project categories.
And here’s where you come in – we need judges!
We’ll provide you with a judging training video and paperwork you can complete at home or in our office over the next few weeks.
Then, you’re set to watch presentations on topics that you have knowledge about.
Every project will be judged by at least two judges—hopefully with at least one having some content knowledge about the topic.
We need people knowledgeable about computers, technology, video games, nutrition, farming, science, health care, and pretty much anything else you can imagine. I promise – there is something you can judge!
Often potential judges have concerns about driving at night, sick kids at home or work hours – but this year’s competition benefits you, too!
In late December, we’ll release the videos for judging, which you can again do at home or in our office. With the time to judge at your leisure, we hope judges will be able to provide ample feedback on compliments and tips for improving projects yet again, as well as to score for placement.
Every participant and judge receives a free skate ticket for Romp N Roll Skating Rink on January 15, 2019, as we celebrate all their hard work and find out the winners.
Those placing in the top three in each category move on to district competition at Newton High on Saturday, February 9, as we host hundreds of children from across northwest Georgia.
Others will have the opportunity to move to open categories for district competition.
If you know a fourth, fifth or sixth grader interested in presenting, it isn’t too late to start. Contact us at the 4-H office next week at 770-784-2010 for an appointment to get started.
To volunteer as a judge, please email Terri Fullerton at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call the office at 770-784-2010.
If you ever competed in 4-H project completion, think back to the adults who encouraged and supported you—and consider doing the same for a new generation.
We look forward to making the best better in projects again this year!