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Florida 4-H Dairy Quiz Bowl

Chris Decubellis

About 4-H Dairy Quiz Bowl

The 4-H Dairy Quiz Bowl program is a fun and educational way for young people ages 8‒18 to positively develop skills such as critical thinking, decision-making, problem solving, listening skills, and communication skills as they master concepts related to the 4-H dairy project, dairy science, and the state, national, and global dairy industry. In a 4-H dairy quiz bowl contest, young people answer written questions, individual questions, team questions, and toss-up questions using buzzers. Both teams and individuals can be recognized for achievement in a dairy quiz bowl or dairy jeopardy contest. Rules will vary from contest to contest. This document is merely a guideline, so please review the rules of the individual contest before participation.

What is needed to conduct a 4-H Dairy Quiz Bowl Contest?

The investment of resources necessary to conduct a dairy quiz bowl contest is minimal. In order to conduct a contest, all that is needed are committed adults who can organize and facilitate the contest, interested youth who are willing to prepare for and participate in a contest, prizes (often certificates, ribbons, or trophies), a quiz bowl buzzer set or signaling device so youth can buzz or ring in with answers to questions, scorekeeping material, and a bank of quiz bowl questions.

How a 4-H Dairy Quiz Bowl Contest is Structured

In many 4-H dairy quiz bowl contests, individuals or teams are broken into 4-H age categories and compete with other youth in the same age category. In some instances, the Junior and Intermediate age categories are combined. Youth who have participated in national contests are moved up a division at some contests.

In team competitions, participants are on a team of four youth (in the same age category). Each team should have a team captain who will give the answer for the team during team questions. Each team should also have at least one coach. Some local contests don't have team coaches, since adults are facilitating the contest for all youth participants. In many quiz bowl contests, youth begin the contest by taking a written test. Sometimes the test is used to seat the teams, and sometimes teams earn points for the contest from the written test. If there is no written test in the competition, or the test isn't used to seat teams, then the teams draw numbers to determine which teams will face one another in the opening round. Most quiz bowl contests use a double-elimination tournament structure to determine the overall team winner for each age group.

The room is typically set up with tables in the front with room for four members on each side (eight total chairs) facing the officials' table, which is in the middle of the room facing the competitors. Spectators sit behind the officials' table, facing competitors. Seated at the officials' table are the moderator, judges, timekeeper, and scorekeeper. Each competitor has a name tag in front of them visible to the officials' table.

Figure 1. Florida youth at the 2018 National Guernsey Convention Dairy Quiz Bowl Contest.
Figure 1.  Florida youth at the 2018 National Guernsey Convention Dairy Quiz Bowl Contest.
Credit: Chris DeCubellis, UF/IFAS


The Moderator

The moderator is the person that asks the youth the questions and designates participants to answer questions after they buzz in. The moderator accepts or rejects all answers, unless overruled by both judges. The moderator may look to the judges for interpretation or acceptance of an answer to a question. The moderator also declares the winner for each round and for the overall contest.

The Judges

Also seated at the table are two judges. These individuals should be knowledgeable about the dairy industry and dairy science, as they will be asked to rule on controversial answers. Both judges, or one judge and the moderator, have to agree that an answer is correct or incorrect if an answer or question is challenged.

The Timekeeper

One person needs to serve as the timekeeper. This person will keep track of the time after a question is asked, and after a pre-determined amount of time (according to that contest's rules), the question will expire if nobody answers or buzzes in for an answer. The timekeeper can serve also serve as a judge if necessary.

The Scorekeepers

One or two individuals will need to serve as the scorekeeper in accordance with the individual rules of that particular contest. Youth earn points for their team for correctly answering questions. In some contests, teams lose points if contestants answer a question incorrectly. The scorekeeper can serve as a judge if necessary.

Other officials can be utilized to help a contest run smoothly. Door guards can ensure that nobody enters or leaves a room during a round of questions. Holding room guards serve to keep order in the holding room, where teams wait on their turn to enter a round of competition. This person ensures nobody is unethically sharing answers from previous rounds and helps move teams in and out of the competition room.

Individual Question Phase

If the location and volunteer support are appropriate, a contest can begin with individual questions. In the phase of the team competition, the first team is brought into the room and the moderator will ask each individual youth a question in rotation. In many competitions, each youth has to answer a total of three questions in this round. Once the first team answers these questions, their competitors are brought into the room, and members of the second team are asked the exact same questions in rotation. For those questions answered correctly, the scorekeepers will add the appropriate points to a team score. Some contests penalize incorrect answers in this round. If an incorrect answer is given, the scorekeepers will deduct the appropriate amount of points for that question.

Toss-Up Phase

In the toss up round, any youth who knows the answer to the question from either team can activate the signaling device or buzzer to get the attention of the moderator. After buzzing in, the moderator will say the name of the person who is to answer the question. The person then answers the question after being recognized by the moderator. If the question is correct, the scorekeepers will add those points to the team score; if the answer is incorrect, the scorekeepers will subtract points depending on the rules of the contest. If neither team can answer the question in the predetermined amount of time, the question will expire, and the moderator will give the answer to the question.

If a contestant buzzes in before the end of the question, the moderator will stop reading and recognize the contest who buzzed in for an answer.

If an answer during this round is incorrect, the moderator will re-read the question for the opposing team. If someone on the opposing team knows the answer, they can buzz in and provide an answer when recognized by the moderator.

Bonus Questions

In some contests, after three different members of a team correctly answer at least one question in the toss-up round, the entire team will get a bonus question. Often these questions are multi-part questions and can earn partial or full points depending on the thoroughness of the answer. Team members can quietly discuss the answers during the allotted time, and then the team captain provides the answer to the moderator. If incorrect, no points are deducted, and the question is not passed on to the other team.

Winning the Contest

The team with the highest score at the end of the round wins that round. After the first round, there will be a winner's bracket and a consolation bracket. In a double-elimination tournament, each team must lose twice to be eliminated. The remaining undefeated team will face the remaining team in the consolation bracket. If the consolation team wins this round, then one more round is played, with the winner from the final round winning the entire quiz bowl competition for that age category.

Even though this is a competition, each young person should have a positive experience and be encouraged for their participation. One team will win, but all competitors can be recognized for their skill and effort.

Sample Rules for a 4-H Dairy Quiz Bowl Contest

An internet search of 4-H dairy quiz bowl rules shows a host of examples from all over the country. If you are considering creating a local contest, please look at some of the rules of contests from other land grand universities or dairy cattle breed associations. Feel free to contact the 4-H State Specialized Dairy/Animal Science Agent to help draft local contest rules.

Finding or Writing Questions for a 4-H Dairy Quiz Bowl Contest

There are many outstanding sources for questions for 4-H dairy quiz bowl contests. These include dairy magazines such as Hoard's Dairyman and Progressive Dairyman, land-grant university Extension dairy websites, and eXtension. Many land-grant universities and breed associations post sample questions online.

How Youth are Selected to Participate in National Dairy Quiz Bowl Competitions

Each year Florida supports youth to compete in national dairy quiz bowl competitions located at breed conventions and the national 4-H contest. These youth are selected by UF/IFAS Extension 4-H faculty, with input from the State 4-H Dairy Committee. Based on availability, the majority of expenses associated with these national contests may be paid for participating youth by the Southeast Milk Dairy Check-off program. Participation on a team representing Florida at a national contest should be considered a great honor and an extremely fun and educational opportunity. This document explains how young people are considered for selection to one of these teams.

Age at National Contests

Individual national contests have different age categories for participants at their respective contests. For example, some breed association contests have two age divisions. The junior division for these competitions is often 9-15, while senior division competitors are age 16‒21. Note that these age categories differ from Florida 4-H age categories. For the North American Invitational 4-H Dairy Quiz Bowl contest, participants must celebrate their 15th‒19th birthday during the year of the contest. Some breed association conventions limit the number of times a youth may participate in each age division. Winning an age division may also preclude youth from participating in that age division again.

Participation in State Dairy Quiz Bowl Contests

Each year Florida recognizes several state-level youth dairy quiz bowl contests at events such as the Florida State Fair and other fairs and dairy youth events in Florida. Youth selected for national contests need to participate in at least one of these recognized state-level quiz bowl contests. Those youth whose scores are higher in one or more of these contests will rise to the top of the pool of youth in consideration for national competitions. The more of these state-level competitions a youth participates in, the opportunities that youth has to demonstrate proficiency in dairy quiz bowl. Participation in multiple state quiz bowl events may increase a youth's consideration for national competitions based on performance.

Participation in Other National Contests

There are several nuances among contests that exclude participation in one another. Some contests allow youth to only participate in that contest for that calendar year. Some contests allow the same youth to participate several years, and others allow youth to only participate once. The committee strives to take all of these considerations into account to maximize opportunities for Florida youth.

Participation in Other Youth Dairy Activities

It is not necessary to participate in any other youth dairy activities, including shows or judging contests, to participate in dairy quiz bowl. However, participation in other aspects of a dairy project or activities helps demonstrate mastery of dairy science concepts and is strongly encouraged.

Character and Behavior in Youth Activities

Because youth selected to participate in national competitions will be representing UF/IFAS and the Florida dairy industry, young people should demonstrate high character, a strong work ethic, and should have a reputation of behaving properly and following the UF/IFAS 4-H Code of Conduct at all state events.

Participation in Breed Associations

Most competitions that occur at breed conferences require that youth competitors be members of that particular breed association, or junior breed association. Youth can often join without owning that breed.

It is hoped this document helps clarify the purpose, function, and structure of a 4-H dairy quiz bowl contest, as well as the processes and factors that contribute to selection to a national team. For more information, please call Chris DeCubellis, 4-H State Specialized Dairy/Animal Science Agent at (352) 846-4444 or email


Bohlen, J. (2018). Prepping a Dairy Quiz Bowl Team. Retrieved from

Dairy Bowl Fact Sheet (2018). In Holstein Foundation. Retrieved from

Publication #4HDAJ05

Release Date:January 10, 2019

Reviewed At:October 6, 2021

Related Experts

Decubellis, Chris


University of Florida

Related Topics

Fact Sheet

About this Publication

This document is 4HDAJ05, one of a series of the 4-H Youth Development Program, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date January 2019. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.

About the Authors

Chris Decubellis, Ph.D., UF/IFAS Extension, 4-H Youth Development Program; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


  • Christopher DeCubellis