1. Published

    Jake’s family farm had two ponds full of bluegill, and he had always wanted to learn how to catch them through the ice. His friend, Carmen, had been taught how to ice fish by her uncle from Wisconsin a couple years before, so they decided on a Saturday afternoon adventure to try their luck.

    Walking up to the first pond, Carmen stopped Jake for a moment. 

  2. Published
    4-H member Ava Anderson looked for the positive of COVID-19 and help
  3. Published

    It wasn’t that long ago a teenage boy was working a part-time job at a family-owned tree nursery when he was privy to a conversation between the business owners about the loss of young trees due to whitetail deer browsing and antler rubbing.    The boy’s interest peaked on the opportunity to learn how to archery hunt during the upcoming fall season.   No one had every showed him how to hunt, but he’d been reading, practicing his shot, and was willing to learn as he went.    The nursery owners welcomed his enthusiasm and granted him permission.

  4. Published

    Edwards County 4-H members answered the call to help their neighbors, just when it is needed most. 

    Prior to the stay-at-home order in March, 22 4-H members and 15 volunteers met at the Country Financial Hall in Albion and packed meals for the area food banks. One in four Illinois children experience hunger. With several families facing unexpected layoffs and job losses, the 10,152 meals the 4-H members provided are making a difference in these communities, says Mark Becker, University of Illinois Extension 4-H food system specialist. 

  5. Published

    It’s no secret that some people are simply better at fishing than others. Nice equipment is helpful, but only in the hands of someone who knows how to use it. A $150 graphite fishing rod is a great tool, but it won’t catch a fish if the knot tied to the hook unravels because it was poorly tied by the fisherman.

  6. Published

    Let me start by making a very low-risk assumption that if you’re reading this, you do not need any more convincing that outdoor recreation is good for every single part of your body. It’s good for the 4 H’s of 4-H: Head, Heart, Hands, and Health.

  7. Published

    The spring rains had our family cooped up for several days. Little League practice was cancelled, and the stingray bike I had been riding in circles in the empty garage now had a flat tire. Eight years old; nowhere to go; nothing to do. As I sat there dejected, my mom entered the garage just as the sun came shining through the clouds.

    “Time for a nature walk,” she said as she handed me a plain looking stick. “Just follow that stick and see what it finds” and off we walked.  

  8. Published

    One thing we can count on during uncertain times is our 4-H values.

    Now, more than ever, Illinois youth need their 4-H family. Together, youth and adults can use this time to demonstrate values like independence, belonging, generosity and mastery. The lessons Illinois youth learn today will shape them as leaders for a lifetime. While using our virtual platforms, we can work together to model perseverance throughout Illinois communities and beyond. 

  9. Published
    A group of 4-H alumni enjoy 4-H so much, they’re still meeting, 90 years after the oldest began her 4-H journey.
  10. Published

    I wish I could promise you that the fair is going to work out the way you want. I wish I could tell you that you'll have the success you worked for. I wish I could tell you that you'll be recognized for your hard work, your kindness, your dedication, your grit. I wish I could tell you that others who didn't work as hard won't stand ahead of you in the ring, won't get the bigger trophy or the prettier ribbon.

    Now, go back and read that again, except this time, instead of "the fair," substitute "your life."

  11. Published

    The July 21, 1969 issue of The Columbia Missourian said this about Michael Collins, third astronaut joining Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong on the first landing on the moon:

    "While the world breathlessly watched and listened for the moon walk by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, Mike Collins cruised in orbit overhead. His job was to undertake emergency action if something went wrong, or to pick them up from the lunar module for the return to Earth if everything went right.

  12. Published

    I've smiled every morning for the past six days.
    I smile because every morning, I check the Farmfluencer website and see that Montgomery County 4-H member Kendall Knodle's amazing video is still in the running to win.

    I smile because it's a good video, based on science, featuring University of Illinois' top crop researchers who are searching for answers to feeding the world's growing population.

    I smile because Kendall is 16, and in addition to doing all the things 16-year-olds do, he's out climbing on his tractor and dreaming of saving the world.

  13. Published

    It has been a difficult month in rural America. The rain is relentless. Levies are breaking. What crops were planted are washing away. We're all tired and hoping for a break in the weather.

    Farming is filled with opportunities for life lessons, but that's nothing new to farm families. We have lessons for breakfast! Let's review some important lessons for this show season.

    Be your best self

  14. Published

    They do it because someone did it for them.

    They do it because their parents modeled the behavior and created a mindset in them that helping others is important.

    Mainly, they do it for Deb. Debra Hagstrom has led the Illinois 4-H equine program for years as Extension equine specialist. In addition to hosting the annual contest, she mentors the young people advancing to national competition in horse judging, speaking, horse bowl, and Hippology. That one-on-one time creates lasting bonds with the young people going through her programs.

  15. Published

    For 1,347 4-H members, the next few days will bring the end of high school and the beginning of what comes next.

    What comes next may mean new homes, new friends, new jobs, new pursuits, new lives. Wherever and whatever next means for you, let 4-H carry you through the challenging days. Never doubt you are well prepared for what comes next.

  16. Published

    Sometimes learning comes in thundering waves; other times as tiny nuggets of wisdom.

    More than 500 4-H members studied through the winter and early spring to learn as much as they could about the horse industry. They competed in four regional contests until the best of the best remained to compete in the Illinois State 4-H Horse Bowl, Hippology, and Horse Speaking contests held on campus April 13-14.

  17. Published

    Never doubt how hard Katelyn Hamilton is willing to work. The Randolph County 4-H member has faced serious challenges, yet she has emerged stronger and more determined in spite of them.

    Katelyn spent the first 28 days of her life in a neonatal intensive care unit. Doctors said she would likely be wheelchair bound and unable to care for herself. She proved them wrong. At age 5, Katelyn's family home was destroyed, and her family was forced to move frequently.

  18. Published

    Aaron Dufelmeier is living the dream, just down the road from where his Extension journey began.

    Dufelmeier manages the Extension program in Calhoun, Cass, Greene, Morgan, and Scott counties. In April, he hosted Dr. Kim Kidwell, dean of the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, and Dr. Shelly Nickols-Richardson, interim director of U of I Extension.

  19. Published

    The benefits of overnight camping extend far beyond the simple joys that come from eating roasted marshmallows and jumping into a cool lake on a hot day. Overnight camping is a valued part of the 4-H experience for thousands of children each year and teaches valuable lessons, whether campers realize it at the time or not.

  20. Published

    It's that time of year when the minds of 4-H storytellers turn to impact reports.

    My understanding of impact has changed in the years since I first studied ag communications in the basement of Mumford Hall. It took real life to show me what my professors tried so hard to teach me.

    Impact isn't what I did; impact is WHAT CHANGED IN OTHERS because I did something.

    In my early days "doing" 4-H work, I thought it was enough that I held events. I counted heads in the room and thought I was doing my job. Thirty-five years later, I finally get it.