Public Speaking Contest

Important Alert!

This page contains outdated information, rules, and guidelines. We are working on updating the entire Fairbook for 2018. Please check back later for the most current information.

Co-Superintendent: Cathy Johnston
Co-Superintendent: Tracy Pracheil
Co-Superintendent: Julie Kreikemeier


  • TBA, 9:00 AM -- Heartland Event Center, State Fair, Grand Island, NE


  • Contestants must qualify at their regional contest to compete in state competition.
  • Registration of the winners of the regional contests will be submitted to state following the regional contest by the district coordinators.
    • One copy of speech/PSA outlines along with the 4-H member’s registration form must be submitted.
    • Radio PSA’s will be submitted electronically as a .wav or mp3 format along with 1 copy of the PSA text and 4-H member’s registration form. 
      No CDs accepted.
  • The time limit for all PSA’s is 60 seconds.
  • Only Senior Division Speech and PSA Regional winners will advance to state competition.
    • Age divisions will be determined by their 4-H age, the age of the youth before January 1 of the current year. Participants must be between the ages of 14 and 18 to qualify for the Senior Division.


  • Youth must be currently enrolled in 4-H to participate in the State Public Speaking contest.
  • Youth must be selected at their Regional Public Speaking contest to compete in State competition.
  • Youth may participate in both the Speech and PSA categories.
  • Previous state winners in Speech or radio PSA’s are no longer eligible to compete in the State contest in the category won at the State contest.
  • Only individuals may compete in the speech or radio PSA competition at the state level.
  • Only Senior Division regional winners in the Speech and PSA categories will advance to the State Public Speaking Contest. 


  • Speech
    • Length of Speeches: Senior Division: 5 to 8 minutes.
    • All speeches must be original and include 4-H as the major component of the speech.
    • Many speakers in the Public Speaking Contest have given speeches in other contests. This is fine; however previous speeches may not be used verbatim for the 4-H contest. It is okay to use the same ideas from a speech previously delivered in competition, but it must be 4-H related. Enough changes should be made to make that speech new to the speaker and the audience. 4-H public speakers may not use an old speech written by a sibling, other 4-H member, or anyone else.
    • Acknowledge the source of information used in the speech. For example, an article from a magazine may be used for reference but should not be quoted directly unless you tell the audience your source.
    • Use of visual aids and props are not allowed.
    • Dress appropriately. Do not wear costumes or special effect clothing.
    • No team speeches are allowed.
  • Public Service Announcement (PSA) Category Rules
    • All PSA’s are 60 seconds in length.
    • The state theme for the 2017 Public Service Announcement is 4-H Grown and should be incorporated in the PSA.
    • All radio PSA’s must promote 4-H and be general enough to be used anywhere in Nebraska at any time of the year.
    • All 4-H PSA’s must include the following tag line within the last ten seconds of the PSA: “Learn more about Nebraska Extension 4-H Youth Development Program at” The tag line is included in the 60 second time limit. The tagline Know How, Know Now should not be used.
    • Sound effects and public domain music may be used. Copyrighted material may not be used.
    • All PSA’s must be the original work of the presenter. Contestants may not use PSA’s written and provided by the state or national staff.
    • No team PSA’s are allowed.
    • Radio PSA’s will be submitted electronically as a .wav or mp3 format along with 1 copy of the PSA text. No CDs accepted. 


  • Judges will deduct three points from the contestant's speech score for each 30 seconds under or over the time limit. (Senior division only.)
  • See score card for additional judging criteria.


  • Two $500 Scholarships will be given to the top speech winners. The award is sponsored by the Nebraska Rural Radio Association.
  • Two $50 Cash awards are given to the alternate speeches. The award is sponsored by Mrs. Ted Doane in memory of Dr. Ted Doane.
  • Two $250 scholarships will be given to the alternate PSA winners. The award is sponsored by the Nebraska Rural Radio Association.
  • Two $25 cash award are given to the alternate PSAs. The award is sponsored by Mrs. Ted Doane in memory of Dr. Ted Doane.
  • All 4-H’ers who participate at the state contest in speech may be awarded a $250 Scholarship to the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CASNR)