Have you ever received an email or letter like this?
Dear Parent Club Judges Education Personnel:
The Super-Duper Judges Education Group (SDJEG) is offering breed seminars and workshops for the Whatchamacallit breeds over five (5) days during Well-Attended Cluster at the Some State Fairgrounds in A City, SomeState, on Month/Day 1-Day 5/Year.
We will accommodate three (3) breeds per day with a format of 2-1/2 hours per breed to include 1-1/2-hour seminar, plus 1-hour workshop per breed.
The facility to be used for the seminars is a large, temperature-controlled meeting room downstairs in the show building (Main Show Building). There can be a separate, large ring in the show building for the hands-on portion, or the conference room itself may be used. All comparison seminars will be held in the conference room.
SDJEG will provide the projector, laptop, seminar certificates, sign-in forms, and hands-on evaluation forms. Your parent club is responsible for providing all attendee educational materials. Your club’s educational presentation must be on (name of software platform that SDJEG uses) and you will need to provide it on a USB flash drive. SDJEG does not accommodate other software formats. The use of personal/individually provided laptops and/or projectors is not allowed due to existing hardware setup in the conference room.
Your club will need to provide four to six (4-6) representatives of your breed as demonstration dogs for attendees to examine and evaluate in each hands-on workshop.
Please let us know if your parent club would like to participate in this exciting opportunity to educate future judges of your breed. The clubs will be afforded the seminar day/time slots of their choice based on their earliest firm commitment to present.
We can be reached at ###-###-#### or at SDJEG@browser.com should you have additional questions.
Thank you for your interest in educating future judges,
SDJEG Seminar Coordinators
Did you answer the email/letter? How did you answer it? How long did it take you to respond to the request for your breed to be presented? How often has your breed been presented at a parent club National judges’ educational seminar by a handful (or fewer) of attendees? Are you frustrated by the low attendance at your National judges’ educational seminar? Do your breed’s exhibitors and breeders complain about the poor quality of judging in your breed?
Indulge me, if you will, and let us turn this around and look at it from the seminar coordinator’s perspective.
When you received the request for presenters for your breed’s participation in seminars, did you answer the email (or phone call)? If you were no longer the person heading up judges’ education for your breed, did you forward the request to the appropriate person or to the club’s board for further action?
Most persons listed as their parent club’s representative for judges’ education are responsible individuals, passionate about their breed, and organized. At least that has generally been my experience as a coordinator of our judges’ group’s seminars for the past seven years. I say “generally” because I find it is becoming more and more difficult to get responses from listed parent club judges education providers at all. By the time I am sending out second (and third) calls for presenters, I include parent club executive board members on the cc line, and I’ve double-checked on the parent club websites that the judges’ education chair listed is the correct one and has the correct email address and phone when compared to the list on the AKC website (under Judging Resource Center).
And even when the second and third call for presenters goes out, I still may not get responses. At that point, I resort to phone calls, and if still no responses, I begin calling people I know within the breed to check if I am contacting the right folks. Not receiving responses at all, a problem many judges’ educational groups are experiencing, leads me to think that the parent club is not interested in providing educational opportunities in their breed. A “we’re working on it” would be most appreciated by the judges’ ed group coordinator.
Within the past 10 or more years, learner attendance in whole-group or partial-group seminars has grown while learner attendance at parent club National Specialty judges’ educational seminars has waned. Keep in mind that the learner is expending the same amount of travel dollars for one seminar/workshop versus a little more expenditure for consecutive days of seminars/workshops on multiple breeds. This could be a big contributor to declining educational attendance at single-breed judges’ educational events. In fact, the judges’ education presenter at a National is frequently the same presenter as at a multi-day set of seminars—and is likely giving the same presentation! On the other hand, a breed’s National is the place to see the best the breed has to offer in significant numbers. As a learning experience, a National is unsurpassed.
This leads me to the next question. When you receive a request for your breed to be presented at a seminar, are you the only one who can present or are there others on the parent club’s Judges’ Education Committee who are qualified to present?
All too often, judges’ education groups have been faced with the prospects of certain breeds not being represented because the parent club Breed Education Chair will not allow or encourage another qualified individual to present. On multiple occasions, I have known of well-qualified presenters (and in some instances the former JECs themselves) who have been passed over because of parent club politics. This extends to the dogs used as hands-on exhibits as well! It is well understood that obtaining a presenter who has the seminar dates open can be a challenge. So, there’s even more reason to have multiple, qualified presenters for your breed and call on them to present when the seminar is in their geographical area.
Most judges’ education group seminar coordinators begin their planning and speaker/presenter recruiting up to a year before the event. For there to be accurate announcements in the AKC Judges Resource Center website, judges groups’ social media pages, etc., the breeds on offer for presentations must be known far ahead of time, never mind the planning that the presenters need to do to execute a well-received seminar and hands-on workshop learning experience.
It is recognized that with so many low-entry AKC breeds (98 out of the approximately 213 fully-recognized breeds, as of March 1, 2023) there is a challenge in having more than one or two breed seminar presenters when the pool of owners/exhibitors/breeders is also very low. This also applies to having the requisite number of exhibits for a hands-on workshop in any given geographical area.
If you are the recipient of a request for a breed seminar presenter, please respond promptly. If you cannot fulfill the request(s) for presenters, please pass it on to someone who will. Do what it takes to get a qualified presenter to the educational seminars on offer. The only thing that suffers from under-educated judges is your breed.
Constructive responses to this column are invited! firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are the recipient of a request for a breed seminar presenter, please respond promptly. If you cannot fulfill the request(s) for presenters, please pass it on to someone who will.
Please Educate Me – Judges Education Groups Appreciate Prompt Replies From Parent Clubs
By Celeste M. Gonzales