Four high school students from Cobb County took home top honors at the 4-H State Cotton Boll and Consumer Judging contest on Nov. 11, 2021, at Rock Eagle in Eatonton, Georgia. Sandhya Rajesh, Kshitij Badve, Haya Fatmi and Stefan Saboura earned the status of Master 4-H’er with their first-place win at the state level. Alyssa Haag from Oconee County also received Master 4-H’er status as the overall high individual in the contest.
The Cotton Boll and Consumer Judging competitions are made possible by the Georgia Cotton Commission and are part of the Georgia 4-H Healthy Living Program. Participants gain essential critical thinking and public speaking skills and learn the building blocks of consumer economics through decision-making scenarios. Additionally, youth are exposed to the role that cotton plays as an agricultural commodity in Georgia.
The contest includes judging four classes with situations that require participants to rank choices based on the need of a hypothetical consumer. The 2021 contest included athletic shoes, frozen meals, bicycles and cell phone plans. Contestants present oral arguments that defend their placing of a chosen class.
Each participant is also required to write and deliver an advertisement that highlights the significant role of cotton in society. Youth are educated on key elements of the importance of cotton and base their presentations on the knowledge they gain.
“Consumer judging combines all the best parts of 4-H programming into a contest that leaves students with knowledge they can use for their entire lives,” said Courtney Brown, 4-H specialist with University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. “I often hear stories of 4-H alumni who utilize skills they learned during this contest to make decisions about college or even when purchasing their own home.”
Prior to the state contest, teams qualified to attend at area contests around the state. The first- and second-place teams from each area contest are invited to attend the state competition, along with a selection of wildcard teams. The state contest is open to Senior 4-H’ers, who are in grades nine through 12. Area contests are open to 4-H’ers in grades five through 12.
The first-place team from Cobb County was coached by 4-H agent Brittani Lee and 4-H program assistant Kathleen McElroy. The team will represent Georgia 4-H in the Consumer Decision Making contest at the Western National Roundup in Denver, Colorado next year.
Second place in the team competition went to Robie Lucas, Alyssa Haag, Leah Szczepanski and Lilly Ann Smith from Oconee County. The third-place team included Lydia Belflower, Lucy Wiegert and Veronica Lee from Bleckley County.
The second place overall high individual was Robie Lucas from Oconee County and third place went to Sandhya Rajesh from Cobb County.
Georgia 4-H empowers youth to become true leaders by developing necessary life skills, positive relationships and community awareness. As the largest youth leadership organization in the state, 4-H reaches more than 225,000 people in a typical year through UGA Extension offices and 4-H facilities.