Nebraska 4-H

Virtual Companion Animal Challenge

white dog sitting outside

The Virtual Companion Animal Challenge offers a variety of 4-H companion animal contests that don't require live animals, including a Demonstration Contest, Essay Contest, Art Contest, Photography Contest, Cat Trivia, and Dog Trivia. Youth have the opportunity to display their companion animal knowledge through these contests both as individuals and as part of a team. 

Online entry forms are due by 5:00 PM on April 2nd. Entry fees will be $5 per contest. T-shirts are available for $15 through the entry form. Checks should be made out to: University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Mail entry fees to:

  • Grace Kim
    UNL PO Box 830
    ANSC C204g
    Lincoln, NE 68583

Entry fees must be postmarked by April 2nd. Copies of the entry form that are emailed to you should also be printed and mailed WITH the entry fees.

Essays, art, photography, and demonstration recorded entries must be submitted digitally within the entry form. Trivia will be completed through an online quiz which must be taken from April 12-18th. Results will be made available online during the week of April 30th. Stay tuned to the UNL Companion Animal Facebook page and this webpage for results. Ribbons and certificates will be mailed to exhibitors or sent to their county offices

CONTESTS & RULES

Essay Contest

Age Divisions

  • Intermediate: 10-13 years of age as of January 1 of the current year
  • Senior: 14-18 years of age as of January 1 of the current year

Categories

  • Persuasive - The essay should argue a point on a topic related to companion animal health, welfare, or a similar subject. The essay must take a definitive side on the argument. Examples include but are not limited to:
    • Declawing cats
    • Adopting vs. buying from a breeder
    • Controlling stray animal populations
  • Informative - The essay should explore a subject related to companion animal health, welfare, or a similar subject. At least four different sources should be cited in the essay. Example topics include but are not limited to:
    • Caring for senior cats
    • Behavior development of puppies
    • Use of dogs/cats for therapy
    • The benefit of fiber in guinea pig diets

Contestants & Eligibility

  1. Entrants do not need to be enrolled in the 4-H dog, cat, rabbit, or companion animal projects. However, participants must be enrolled 4-H members.
  2. Participants may participate in all contests held as part of the 4-H Companion Animal Challenge.
  3. Only one entry per exhibitor per category permitted.
  4. All essays are to be original works of the exhibitor and relate to the dog, cat, rabbit, or companion animals. A statement of authenticity must be submitted with each essay.
  5. Essays must be between 500-750 words for junior and intermediate entries and 750-1000 words for senior entries.
  6. Essays must include the writer’s name, age, and county.
  7. Essays must be typed, double spaced, and in 12-point font.
  8. Essays, along with a statement of authenticity, must be attached to the online entry form. Essays should be submitted as either a .pdf or a .doc file. Late entries will not be judged.

Submission

Save documents as .pdf or .doc files.

Name documents as:

  • Contest-FirstName-LastName-County-Age (Example: Essay-Jane-Doe-Lancaster-13.pdf)
  • StatementOfAuthenticity-Contest-FirstName-LastName-County-Age (Example: StatementOfAuthenticity-Essay-Jane-Doe-Lancaster-13.pdf)

Submit essays and statements of authenticity in the online entry form. 

Late entries will not be judged. 

Scoring Criteria

  • Accuracy
  • Conciseness
  • Creativity
  • Logical development
  • Grammar

Art Contest

Age Divisions

  • Junior: 8-9 years of age as of January 1 of the current year
  • Intermediate: 10-13 years of age as of January 1 of the current year
  • Senior: 14-18 years of age as of January 1 of the current year

Contestants & Eligibility

  1. Entrants do not need to be enrolled in the 4-H dog, cat, rabbit, or companion animal projects. However, participants must be enrolled 4-H members.
  2. Participants may participate in all contests held as part of the 4-H Companion Animal Challenge.
  3. Individuals may enter up to three exhibits. All exhibits are to be original works of the exhibitor and relate to the dog, cat, rabbit, or companion animals.
  4. Individuals may only submit one photo of each art item. 
  5. Media may include watercolor, oil, acrylic, pencil, chalk, charcoal, pen, ink, crayon, or pastels. Items may be made of wood, glass, metal, ceramic, tile, fabric, mixed media, felted wool, cotton linter, batik, weaving, fabric dyed by the exhibitor, clay, sculpted cardboard, plaster of paris, quilting, etc. Designs may also be influenced by another culture.
  6. Art items may also be made from recycled items such as common objects or material combined in a creative way to depict companion animals.
  7. Entries failing to meet the contest rules will be dropped one ribbon placing.
  8. The senior division champion and reserve champion exhibits will be retained for use by the Nebraska 4-H companion animal program.

Submission

Only 1 photo will be accepted for each entry. 

Name document as:

  • Contest-FirstName-Last-Name-County-Age (example: Art-Jane-Doe-Lancaster-13.jpg)

Submit photos of entries in the online entry form. 

Late entries will not be judged.

Evaluation Criteria

  1. Originality
  2. Use of Imagination
  3. Creativity
  4. Composition
  5. Balance
  6. Harmony
  7. Overall Design
  8. Craftsmanship
  9. Completed Appearance
  10. Neatness
  11. Use of Materials
  12. Skill Level
  13. Appropriate Selection
  14. Presentation

Photography Contest

Age Divisions

  • Junior: 8-9 years old as of January 1 of the current year
  • Intermediate: 10-13 years of age as of January 1 of the current year
  • Senior: 14-18 years of age as of January 1 of the current year

Categories

  • Careers with companion animals
  • Animal health and/or nutrition
  • Good husbandry/grooming
  • Training and showing
  • Human-animal bond
  • Companion animal service or citizenship

Rules

  1. Entrants do not need to be enrolled in the 4-H dog, cat, rabbit, or companion animal projects. However, participants must be enrolled 4-H members.
  2. Participants may participate in all contests held as part of the 4-H Companion Animal Challenge.
  3. Individuals may enter up to three exhibits.
  4. Photographs may be taken with a film or digital cameras.
  5. Photos must be shot by the 4-H member during the current 4-H year.
  6. Personal Data Tags are required for all entries. Please follow the instructions for completing data tags. Data tags must be submitted with each photography entry through the entry form. Photos submitted without data tags will be disqualified. 
  7. Exhibits must be submitted digitally with the entry form.
  8. The senior division champion and reserve champion exhibits will be retained for use by the Nebraska 4-H companion animal program. 

Submission

Only 1 photo will be accepted for each entry. 

Name documents as:

  • Contest-FirstName-LastName-County-Age (example: Photography-Jane-Doe-Lancaster-13.jpg)

Submit entries through the online entry form.

Late entries will not be judged. 

Evaluation Criteria

  1. Sharp focus
  2. Proper light/used correctly
  3. Flash
  4. Color Quality
  5. Strong center of interest
  6. appropriate angle/viewpoint & proper camera position
  7. Unique or interesting subject
  8. Creative techniques/angles/viewpoints
  9. Overall appeal
  10. Effectively executed the intent of the class
  11. Photo story: photo helps to tell an important part of a story

Demonstration Contest 

Age Divisions

  • Intermediate: 10-13 years of age as of January 1 of the current year
  • Senior: 14-18 years of age as of January 1 of the current year

Categories

Youth may enter the contest as either an individual or as a member of a team.

  • Division A: individual presenter
  • Division B: team presenters*

*Team demonstrations should follow social distancing guidelines (6 ft social distancing and/or wearing masks) for videos. 

Contestants & Eligibility

  1. Contestants must be enrolled in their county 4-H dog, cat, rabbit, or companion animal project.
  2. Participants may participate in all contests held as part of the 4-H Companion Animal Challenge.
  3. Teams: Counties may enter multiple teams. Team members may be from different counties. A team consists of two members. All potential team members and alternates must be listed on the contest entry form. 
  4. Dress CodeNebraska 4-H dog/companion animal show dress code is required. Exhibitors must follow dress code regulations as described in the Nebraska 4-H Dog Show Manual (4H420) and State Fair Companion Animal Show Rules with the following exceptions: An exhibitor may wear the event t-shirt, a non-county specific 4-H shirt, or a State Fair t-shirt. Shirts with specific county 4-H notations are not allowed to be worn in contests. Long jeans/pants are required. While hard-soled shoes are not required, exhibitors are required to wear closed-toed shoes with non-slip soles. No hats, caps, or other types of headgear are to be worn. Exhibitors shall not display local, county, commercial or other identification - except official 4-H and show ID tag. 4-H exhibitors will be judged on the neatness of their appearance. This includes but is not limited to: shirt tucked in, appropriately sized of clothing, tied shoelaces, etc.
  5. Contestants must not have participated in official post-secondary (university, college, junior college, or technical school) competitive events of a similar nature in the same subject matter area. Neither can the contestant be a member of a post-secondary team undergoing training in preparation for an event.
  6. Many demonstrators in the Demonstration Contest have given demonstrations in other contests. This is fine; however previous demonstrations may not be used verbatim for the 4-H Companion Animal Challenge demonstration contest. It is okay to use the same ideas from a demonstration previously delivered in this competition, but enough changes should be made to make the demonstration new to the demonstrator and the audience. 4-H demonstrators may not use an old demonstration written by a sibling, other 4-H members, or anyone else.

The Contest

  • Contestants will conduct a demonstration or illustrated presentation on a subject pertaining to the dog, cat, rabbit, and/or companion animal industry or be species-related. The demonstration should be original, factual, and related to one of the following 4-H Strategic Plan Outcomes: 4-H Science, Agricultural Literacy, Career Development/College Readiness, Citizenship and Leadership, and Healthy Living. Live animals may not be used!
  • Contestants may use notes. However, excessive use of notes may be counted against the contestants. This will be at the discretion of the judge(s).
  • Contestants may introduce themselves with tge name of their county, brief background, and topic.
  • Ten to fifteen minutes will be allowed for each demonstration with points subtracted for too little or excessive time. One point will be deducted from each judge's scorecard for each minute under ten minutes or over fifteen minutes.
  • Contestants may use an easel, table, or other equipment. All audio/visual aids used in the demonstration must be done solely by the contestants.
  • Contestants should cite their major references after the conclusion of their demonstration. This will not be counted in the allotted time.
  • Demonstrations will be evaluated by two or more judges.
  • Judges will provide questions to ask the contestants to answer at the end of their demonstration video. Question time will not be counted in the allotted time. Contestants should repeat questions before they answer.

Production & Recording

Record your demonstration using a phone, tablet, computer, or video camera. Video submissions should be raw videos with no editing. Videos should be saved as .mp3 or .mp4 files.

Production Tips:

  • Use natural lighting.
  • Shoot indoors (if possible) in a quiet area.
  • Avoid direct sunlight.
  • Avoid cluttered backgrounds.
  • Keep the recording device horizontal (not vertical) when shooting the video.
  • Stabilize the recording device (set it on a table, book, use a tripod, etc.) so the shot is steady.
  • Record 3-5 seconds before and after the 4-H'er begins speaking. 

Submission

Videos must be submitted as .mp3 or .mp4 files. 

Name documents as:

  • Contest-FirstName-LastName-County-Age (example: Demonstration-Jane-Doe-Lancaster-13.mp4)

Submit videos through the online entry form. For teams, both team members should submit the same video with their entry form. 

Late entries will not be judged. 

Scoring Criteria

Introduction: 5 points

  • Did the introduction create interest?
  • Was it concise?
  • Did it tell what the speech was about?

Topic: 5 points

  • Was this a worthwhile and practical topic?
  • Was the topic related to their project or activity?
  • Was the topic related to 4-H strategic plan topics?

Presentation: 20 points

  • Did the presenter speak in a natural voice and were their words distinct?
  • Was the speaker poised, confident, and friendly?
  • Was the speaker convincing and well organized?
  • Did the speaker exhibit originality?

Subject Matter: 20 points

  • Did the speaker emphasize the important points?
  • Was the information presented accurate, complete, and usable?
  • Was the speaker knowledgeable about the subject?

Workmanship: 20 points

  • Did the speaker exhibit skillful workmanship?
  • If this was a team demonstration did they work well together?
  • Did the speaker make good use of their time, materials, and equipment?
  • Was the work and speech well coordinated?
  • Was the work area neat, orderly, well organized, and easily viewed by an audience?

Equipment: 10 points

  • Was the equipment suitable for the presentation?
  • Where the charts neat, pertinent, and interesting?

Conclusion: 10 points

  • Did the conclusion stress important points in the summary?
  • Was the finished product exhibited (if appropriate)?
  • Was the closing definite?
  • Were any questions answered satisfactorily?

Dog Trivia

The Cat Trivia contest is an educational activity to test youth's knowledge of dog science and skills in working with dogs and provide youth an opportunity to expand their knowledge of dogs. Dog ownership is not required. Exhibitors will need to be registered Quizizz players in order to participate. The online trivia will be open from April 12-18. Youth will have the week to complete the required sections. Intermediates will have 2 sections and seniors will have 3 sections. 

Focus group
2021: Working Breeds
2022: Terrier Non-sporting
2023: Non-sporting and Stock Found/Misc. (E-P)
2024: Sporting and Stock Found/Misc. (R-W)

Age Division

  • Intermediate: 8-13 years of age as of January 1 of the current year
  • Senior: 14-18 years of age as of January 1 of the current year

Contestant & Eligibility

  1. Contestants must be enrolled in the 4-H dog, cat, rabbit, or other companion animal project.
  2. Participants may participate in all contests held as part of the 4-H Companion Animal Challenge.
  3. Dog ownership is not required.

The Contest

  1. Exhibits will need to registered Quizizz player in order to participate.
    • Be sure to input the participant's first and last name when registering.
  2. Exhibitors will be provided/emailed a quiz code or link to each section.
  3. Exhibits will have from April 12-18 to complete the sections.
  4. Format of questions can be matching, multiple-choice, short answer, etc. Questions may include visual aids such as pictures. 
  5. Questions will have time limits that vary depending on the type of question. 
  6. Once you have submitted an answer to a question, there is no option to "go back" to change an answer or review.
  7. Any open-ended questions will be available for the senior age division only and will have to be reviewed after submission.
  8. There are 25 questions in each of the sections. There is 1 section for the junior age division and 2 sections for the senior age division.
  9. Once you have started the quiz you must finish the quiz or receive a zero score.
  10. No notes, resources, or references may be used while completing the quiz. 

Topic Areas

  • Animal behavior, care, safety, and restraint
  • Health and disease
  • Breed identification
  • Famous dogs/working dogs/dog sports
  • Other advanced topics:
    • Nutrition and feeds for different ages and stages
    • Housing, facilities, training for different canine sports
    • Genetics, reproduction, and management of breeding animals
    • Records management
    • New technology such as GPS, electronic training apps, etc.

Resources

Websites

Books

  • K-9 Structure and Terminology–Step-by-step guide that provides information on the anatomy of dogs and provides an understanding of how their body's work as well. Gilbert, E.M., & Brown, T. R. (2001). K-9 structure & terminology (Second ed.). Wenatchee, Washington: Dogwise Publishing.
  • PAWsitively Youth: A Guidebook about dogs for community Outreach Leaders - Topics addressed include safety, basic nutrition, anatomy, and health care. Breeds of dogs, ethics, and careers for people who work with dogs are also explored. Palmer, D., Wiesen, B., E. Noble (2008). Ithaca, NY: Natural Resource, Agriculture, and Engineering Sevice. ISBN 978-1-933395-19-7 https://ecommons.cornell.edu/handle/1813/67151
  • The Complete Dog Book for Kids, Official publication of the American Kennel Club, copyright 1996 and AKC's Guide to Purebred Dogs poster. The complete dog book for kids. (1996). New York: Howell Book House. 

Cat Trivia

The Cat Trivia contest is an educational activity to test youth's knowledge of cat science and skills in working with cats and provide youth an opportunity to expand their knowledge of cats. Cat ownership is not required. Exhibitors will need to be registered Quizizz players in order to participate. The online trivia will be open from April 12-18. Youth will have the week to complete the required sections. Intermediates will have 2 sections and seniors will have 3 sections. 

Age Division

  • Intermediate: 8-13 years of age as of January 1 of the current year
  • Senior: 14-18 years of age as of January 1 of the current year

Contestant & Eligibility

  1. Contestants must be enrolled in the 4-H dog, cat, rabbit, or other companion animal project.
  2. Participants may participate in all contests held as part of the 4-H Companion Animal Challenge.
  3. Cat ownership is not required.

The Contest

  1. Exhibits will need to registered Quizizz player in order to participate.
    • Be sure to input the participant's first and last name when registering.
  2. Exhibitors will be provided/emailed a quiz code or link to each section.
  3. Exhibits will have from April 12-18 to complete the sections.
  4. Format of questions can be matching, multiple-choice, short answer, etc. Questions may include visual aids such as pictures. 
  5. Questions will have time limits that vary depending on the type of question. 
  6. Once you have submitted an answer to a question, there is no option to "go back" to change an answer or review.
  7. Any open-ended questions will be available for the senior age division only and will have to be reviewed after submission.
  8. There are 25 questions in each of the sections. There is 1 section for the junior age division and 2 sections for the senior age division.
  9. Once you have started the quiz you must finish the quiz or receive a zero score.
  10. No notes, resources, or references may be used while completing the quiz. 

Topic Areas

  • Animal behavior, care, safety, and restraint
  • Health and disease
  • Breed identification
  • Other advanced topics:
    • Nutrition and feeds for different ages and stages
    • Housing, facilities, training
    • Genetics, reproduction, and management of breeding animals
    • Records management
    • New technology such as GPS, electronic training apps, etc.

Resources

Websites

For questions about this program or the information on this page, please contact: