July 22, 2020 - 9:04am -- eisenhauer.30@o...

One of the many rituals in the summer for 4-H members is the Non-Livestock Project Judging. This occasion is a judging for youth taking non-animal projects, such as photography, cooking, sewing, STEM, leadership. gardening, woodworking, scrapbooking and so many more projects. Judges, who are community members that have a specialization in a particular area, volunteer their time to allow the youth to present their projects and ask the youth questions. In a “normal” year, the youth bring their projects and displays and attend a judging in July at the fairgrounds…but this is not a “normal” year. This year was the first time our Mahoning County Non-Livestock Project Judging was conducted virtually using the Zoom platform on Monday, July 13th, and Wednesday, July 15th.

Judges and youth were able to socially distance by being in their own homes to complete the judging. Zoom allows us to use multiple breakout rooms for each of the judges. Youth pre-registered for the event and were given times to log into Zoom. Once logged in, they were greeted by the hosts of the event and when their judge was ready, they were placed in a specific breakout room with their judge and another 4-H volunteer was also in the room for help if needed. The youth then were able to present their projects to the judge and were asked questions about their projects to test the knowledge they gained by completing the project. On Wednesday evening of July 15th, we conducted a virtual Project Awards Ceremony on Zoom to recognize the youth for completing the projects and award our County Award Winners. 4-H youth, their families, and the 4-H club advisors were all in attendance virtually to recognize our youth. Normally, this is completed in person by gathering the youth and their families together in the Hay & Grain Building at the Canfield Fairgrounds.

Allowing this face-to-face interaction for the youth helped the judging feel more “normal” in an unnormal year. In 4-H, youth learn and gain knowledge by completing projects that interest them. The projects give the youth hands-on learning to teach them skills they will use throughout their lives. In 4-H, we are committed to helping youth develop skills that will help them succeed. We want to empower all youth to reach their full potential. We see not just a youth completing a project, but we see the future contributing members of our societies and our future looks strong.

To view photos of the non-animal projects please click HERE

Beth Smith

Mahoning County 4-H Educator, OSU Extension