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Judge Training

Judges' Training Program Guidelines



  • A candidate must be a member of the American Iris Society in Region 18.

  • Request an application from the Regional Vice President (RVP) or Regional Judges Training Chair who will provide an application. Return the completed application to the Regional Judges Training Chair who will evaluate the application and send a copy of these guidelines and any suggestions to the candidate.

  • The Judges Training Chair will maintain a record of all training reported. 



  • Maintain 3 years of consecutive membership in AIS for the years immediately preceding appointment as an Apprentice.

  • Possession of the most recent edition of  “HANDBOOK FOR JUDGES AND SHOW OFFICIALS” is mandatory.

  • A minimum of 15 hours of approved training is required as follows:

    • 5 hours of instruction pertaining to tall bearded iris.

    • 5 hours of instruction on one or more of the classes of iris grown in Region 18. This may include miniature dwarf, median, aril and arilbred, spuria, louisiana or other.

    • 2 hours of practical judging, one devoted to garden judging and the other to exhibition judging. The sessions may be on an individual or class basis. Point scoring technique will be used in the instruction.

    • 3 hours of instruction on other phases of iris knowledge such as AIS Show Rules, Ethics or Duties & Responsibilities of a Judge.

  • A written exam must be successfully completed at each session of C.1, C.2, and C.4 above. The instructor may elect to use an open book exam. The point scoring becomes the practical exam for C.3.

  • Credit is given for any session attended in another Region after certification from the instructing judge to the Region 18 Judges Training Chair.

  • Individual tutoring may not be done by a family member. At least two different accredited judges must be used as instructors for the required training sessions.

  • Sessions must be divided over a period of at least 6 months.

  • Upon completion of the above requirements, an updated application to become an Apprentice Judge should be sent to the Judges Training Chair. The Judges Training Committee will evaluate the candidate’s qualifications and secure the necessary recommendations from at least five accredited judges in Region 18. The Judges Training Chair will provide the Regional Vice President with proper certification, along with any requested records.

  • Students eligible to become Apprentice Judges will be recommended to the AIS Board of Directors for appointment.

    • Recommended students are considered at the fall meeting of the AIS Board of Directors for appointment effective January 1. Approval is granted unless facts are presented that would nullify the appointment.


  • The following minimum requirements must be completed within 3 years.

    • Judge seedlings and new varieties in a garden during bloom season for a minimum of 2 hours on 2 separate occasions. Different instructors must be used for each session.

      • A copy of the official AIS Ballot, marked “VOID,” will be provided for use as a study guide.

    • Two sessions of training for judging exhibitions must be completed at two different accredited shows. These must be under the supervision of different accredited AIS judges on each occasion.
           ​NOTE: It is the responsibility of the student to arrange for the garden and show sessions.

    • Complete a minimum of a 2 hour training session on Awards and Ballots by an approved instructor.

    • ​​A total of ten hours of training as an Apprentice is required to be eligible for consideration for appointment as a Garden/Exhibition Judge

    • Maintain continuous membership in AIS

  • Reports on Training Sessions

    • After each training session, the Apprentice and the instructor will each submit a written report to the Judges Training Chair within one week of the session.

    • Forms for this purpose and guidelines to be followed are obtained from the Region Judges Training Chair.

  • Credit is allowed for any session in another region provided the proper forms are submitted to the Region 18 Judges Training Chair.

  • Credit hours earned as a student may not be used after the student has been appointed an Apprentice Judge.

  • When all the requirements have been complied with, the Judges Training Committee will view the candidate’s qualifications and the Chair will provide the RVP the proper certification, along with any requested records. Action by the RVP and AIS is similar to that for appointment to Apprentice.



  • Maintain continuous membership in AIS.

  • Vote the official ballot each year before the deadline. Failure to do so for two consecutive years results in automatic dismissal.

  • Receive a minimum of 5 hours of judges training credit, 2 of which must be in-garden training, in each three year interval in any combination of the following:

    • Attend one AIS approved judges training school as part of the five hours. THIS IS A REGION 18 REQUIREMENT.

    • Attend and receive credit for 2 hours of in-garden training. THIS IS AN AIS REQUIREMENT.

    • Attend or instruct an approved training session.

    • Tutor an Apprentice in the garden or at a show.

    • Attend or instruct a session on specialized kinds of iris or specific phases of iris knowledge that relate to judging iris. Cultural or slide programs will not receive credit. However, slides may be used for illustration purposes as part of an approved judges training session.

NOTE: All programs attended or tutored should be reported promptly to the Region 18 Judges Training Chair.

  • Activity reports are required from each Judge each year. Forms are mailed to each Judge by July 10 each year and must be returned to the Regional Judges Training Chair by July 31. Failure to do so for two consecutive years will result in automatic dismissal.

  • Failure to meet the above obligations will be deemed to be unsatisfactory performance and the Judge will be recommended to be dropped from the list of accredited judges by the AIS Board of Directors.


A person who has served AIS as a judge for 15 years is elevated to the status of Master Judge. These 15 years are counted from the time the judge is first approved by the AIS Board of Directors as an Apprentice. If there is an interruption in service, the judge does not lose the years served before the interruption.


Master Judges must follow the guidelines that govern any accredited judge by accomplishing the following:

  • Maintain continuous membership in AIS.

  • Vote the official ballot. Failure to do so for two consecutive years results in automatic dismissal.

  • Receive 3 hours of training in three years including mandatory attendance at one AIS approved judges training school and one hour of in-garden training.

NOTE: A Master Judge does not receive credit for tutoring an Apprentice Judge.

  • File a yearly activity report. Failure to do so for two consecutive years will result in automatic dismissal.

  • Failure to comply with the above requirements will result in automatic dismissal.


Emeritus Judges are fully accredited AIS Judges appointed by the AIS Board of Directors. They are exempt from the training requirements and the yearly activity report. It is hoped that they will continue to vote the ballot and participate in training activities to share their knowledge and experience.

  • Emeritus Judges hold a lifetime appointment as long as they maintain continuing membership in AIS.


  • Fully accredited AIS judges may request status as a Retired Judge after having served AIS as a judge for 15 years.

  • Retired Judges are inactive and cannot conduct training sessions or tutor.

  • A Retired Judge cannot judge an AIS accredited show, nor be assigned to a judging panel with a fully accredited judge.

  • Failure to maintain continuous AIS membership will result in dismissal.

  • A Retired Judge may apply to the Regional Judges Training Chair for a change of status to Master Judge by completing training requirements and by filling the Activity Report.

VIII. The JUDGES TRAINING YEAR OF RECORD is August 1 through July 31.

  • Credits earned after that date will be recorded for the following year. 

  • For an individual who has completed the requirements for either Student or Apprentice Judge by July 31, judges training during the remainder of the calendar year will be counted toward the requirements of the next level (Apprentice or Garden/Exhibition, whichever is applicable) pending actual AIS Board approval of the individual’s move to the higher level.



Approved Judging Training Schools Requirements


  • At least 30 days prior to the school, submit to the Regional Judges Training Chair a written request for a training school including the following information:A

    • Description of the subject(s) to be covered and the instructor for each course.

    • Location, date, and time of the training school.

    • Cost of the training school

    • The training school should be open to all interested AIS members.

  • Notice of the training school should be sent to all regional affiliates.

  • A written test containing a minimum of 20 questions on areas to be covered in a two hour, or longer, session must be prepared by, or under the supervision of the instructor and completed by the attendees at the conclusion of the session. Sessions of under two hours may have fewer questions with a minimum of 10 questions for a one hour session. A blank copy of the test is to accompany the report sent to the Regional Judges Training Chair.

  • After completion of the training school the sponsor shall send to the Regional Judges Training Chair the graded test papers for each course, a sample unmarked test paper and a complete roster with signatures, addresses and judgeship status of attendees and instructors.


The Show Chairman shall assign judges panels from fully accredited AIS judges. Retired Judges are not eligible to participate in judging an AIS accredited show.


Only one Apprentice Judge may be assigned to each panel of judges. It is the responsibility of the apprentice to request permission to apprentice at the show.


The Show Chair shall send a list of judges who judged the show to the Regional Judges Training Chair. Comments on judge’s performance would be appreciated. They will be used only for evaluation of the training effectiveness.


Guidelines for Requesting Judges

When inviting a judge to judge a show, speak to your affiliate, or do judges training, make your request as early as possible in advance of the event. When making your request, you should discuss, provide and/or request the following information.

  • Availability on the requested date(s).

  • Your affiliate's policy for reimbursement of:

    • Travel expenses — rate per mile or actual expense

    • Meal expenses

    • Lodging expenses

    • Program honorarium, if it is your affiliate's policy to do so

  • If meals are provided, ask about special dietary needs

  • Ask if judge has a lodging preference — member residence vs. public accommodation (if judge indicates that private residence is okay, be sure to ask about allergies to cats/dogs if host has pets).

  • If invitation is for judges training or program, clarify subject to be trained/presented.

  • If invitation is to judge a show, send a copy of the show schedule to judge(s) at least a week prior to show.

  • Clarify time of date judge is expected to arrive and, if different, time the event begins.

  • If invitation is made more than a month in advance of the event, contact the judge by phone, email, or letter, a week prior to the event to re-confirm the details.


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