Carberry area resident and 4-H leader, April Willis, has been collaborating with her fellow 4-H leaders to revive a competitive team within the 4-H program, the 4-H Youth Judging Competition team of Manitoba.

Willis is the 4-H Club Support Coordinator for western Manitoba. She has partnered with her eastern Manitoba counterpart, Karen Olafson, to breathe new life into this competition, something that hasn't been in place since around 2009.

The goal is to prepare five young people to be ready for the 4-H Youth Judging Competition at the Canadian Western Agribition taking place in Regina at the end of November.

Willis says they are teaching these youth to judge with thought what is Ag-related, animals in the agriculture industry and their products; everything from steers to steak, chickens to cheese, and livestock feed to the quality of hay.

Each 'class' has 4 specimens to inspect, and the youth are given a rubric, or a 'standard', that they must go by in order to judge intelligently on that animal or product, and then choose 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th placement.

"So, they have to come up with a placing, and then they have to come up with why they placed it that way," explains Willis. "They have to have a full and complete answer and a reasoning. They have that written on their card, and then in another class they will present that orally without the use of their card."

Training for the judging competition will continue through the summer, and Willis is not limiting to agricultural items or animals!  She's used teacups to challenge these young people, and further their critical thinking skills.

There can be up to about 80 4-H participants in this competition from across the country, depending on how many each province registers for the event.  The Manitoba team will have 4 young people, with a fifth member at the ready should one of the four not be able to attend.

Top marks in this competition, as an individual competitor, receives a seat at the official judges panel for the greater Agribition competition!  That's right, they attend as a provincial team, but in actuality are competing against their fellow team members as well as all the other competitors from across Canada.

"The overall winner of the 4-H Judging Competition goes on to judge one of the really big classes at Agribition, the Classics," explains Willis. "This class will be judged by professional judges and the winner of the 4-H Youth Competition will be able to participate as an additional judge in this huge class, which is a very big honor for them and very, very special!"

Please listen to more with April Willis below!