Pat Melgares
The Kansas 4-H horticulture judging contest will go the way of so many other state activities during the current pandemic, moving to an online format Aug. 15-16.
Beth Hinshaw, the 4-H youth development specialist in the southeast region, said 4-H members will have a 24-hour period – beginning at 8 a.m. on Aug. 15 – to complete the three-part contest.
“I love the horticulture contest for the kinds of things that it teaches young people,” Hinshaw said. “This is a great opportunity to hone their decision-making skills, and to use their power of observation to make decisions related to horticulture.”
The contest includes:
• Judging. Youth will look at a set of four items – for example, four plates of potatoes or four pots of mums – and place them in rank order.
• Identification. Youth must identify 50 horticulture samples, which might be foliage, fruit, nut, seed, or other.
• Knowledge. Youth study materials related to horticulture practices and answer questions. Some of the categories include how to mow the lawn to a proper height; how to water a young tree; how to deal with poison ivy; or how to attract backyard birds.
“This contest is a great knowledge builder for kids to learn about different plants, some of which they may plant or grow one day,” Hinshaw said.
The contest includes two age divisions: Intermediate (ages 9-13 as of Jan. 1, 2020) and Senior (ages 14-18). Youth interested in entering the contest should contact their local extension office by Aug. 12, though Hinshaw advises registering as soon as possible.
“We piloted the platform that we are using during our summer contests in the southeast region,” she said, crediting Lyon County extension agent Travis Carmichael for putting together the online format.
Hinshaw suggests youth plan to use a tablet or computer on the contest, since it will make it easier to see the online images.
“A number of these young people study year-round on horticulture,” she said. “We also have some great resources on our website where they can look at different plants, and certainly a lot of these young people have those same plants right in their own garden. They should be ready.”
The contest is normally held on the Kansas State University campus in Manhattan as part of a partnership between Kansas 4-H Youth Development and the Department of Horticulture and Natural Resources. Hinshaw said she’s proud that organizers were able to adapt the contest so that youth could participate this year.
“There’s always something more to learn,” she said. “Since we can’t come together in person, it feels really great that we have an alternative for young people to take part in.”