The thrill of the buzzer: 4-H Project Bowl
Each year more than 1,250 youth compete in University of Minnesota Extension's 4-H Project Bowl, guided by dedicated local volunteers.
It’s the semi-final round of a 4-H Project Bowl competition in Grand Rapids. With just three questions left, and down by two points, Cari Eibler and her team huddle to find a way to come out on top and progress to the final round.
Their studying and practice pay off.
"Those moments when you are waiting for someone to buzz in with an answer are pretty suspenseful," says Cari, a high school junior. "It's stressful, I'll admit, but it's fun."
"There's something about that buzzer system that works magic on kids," says Jeff Eibler, Cari's father and a fish biologist who is in his 15th year volunteering for 4-H in Koochiching and St. Louis counties. "If they know the material, they get to buzz in with confidence and really have a fun time."
Patterned after the golden-oldie television show "College Bowl," 4-H Project Bowl challenges teams of three to six youth on their knowledge of 4-H animal project areas: dairy, dog, general livestock, horse, lama, poultry, rabbit and wildlife. Teams buzz in to give their best response to questions about breeds, nutrition, health, showmanship, safety and other subjects. There are four Regional Project Bowls, followed by the State Project Bowl.
Eibler first signed up to volunteer for 4-H at the request of his wife, Jan Derdowski, an Extension 4-H educator. She wanted to be sure that their three young daughters could experience the youth development program she knew so well near where they lived at the time in International Falls. The family was interested in dogs—they currently have a Labrador named Rorie and a Yorkie named Ewok—so the 4-H Dog Project seemed like a good volunteer option for Eibler.
The teams Eibler volunteer-led succeeded at the regional competition. "But we got hammered at state," he says.
Cari and the other team members didn't give up. "The questions get harder as you go—they might be about something you didn't study," she says. "It's always an incentive to study harder for next time."