McHenry County 4-H Embryology Project

University of Illinois Extension’s
2023 Embryology Program registration is now OPEN!  


Thank you for your interest or past participation in the 4-H Embryology in the Classroom Program with University of Illinois Extension. We are pleased to be able to offer this learning opportunity in 2023!

What is more fascinating than seeing a fully developed baby chick emerge from an egg? Just three weeks of incubation transforms a seemingly lifeless chicken egg into an active, living being. This interactive, educational program gives students the opportunity to experience chicks hatching. Just three weeks of incubation transforms a seemingly lifeless chicken egg into an active, living being.

During the 21-day incubation period, students learn how to prepare eggs, set up an incubator, record progress, turn eggs, and test eggs for fertility. The project aligns with both Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Common Core Standards. The program is designed for youth in grades K to 5, but can be adapted for older youth.


How it works:

  • 4-H provides online training, classroom resources, and egg-ordering services so that educators can bring embryology to their classrooms.
  • Educators attend training, provide program equipment and supplies for their classroom, teach and oversee the program for their students, and provide participant information and program evaluation data to the 4-H program.
  • Note: Our trainers recommend that educators doing the embryology project complete a beginner or advanced training once every five years to achieve continued success.


2023 Program/Registration Options:

BOTH Beginner & Advanced ONLINE Training information:

  • Led by U of I Extension Poultry Specialist Dr. Ken Koelkebeck.
  • A zoom link will be sent before the training. 
  • Cost: $25 includes training, access to training materials, and 4-H staff availability for questions. (eggs will need to be ordered separately at $15 per dozen).

Beginner Training: First-time teachers can attend ONE of TWO virtual training sessions:

  • February 15 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. or
  • March 7 from 4:30-6:30 p.m.
  • 2 PDH may be earned.

Advanced Training: For returning teachers.  Recommended every 5 years.

  • March 8 from 4:30-6:00 p.m.
  • 1.5 PDH may be earned.


Fertile Egg Orders:

  • Cost: $15 per dozen fertile eggs (minimum order 2 dozen), chick feed, access to training materials, and 4-H staff availability for questions.
  • 75% of eggs received this year may be Cornish Rock (meat birds) unless otherwise informed.
  • Eggs are in short supply and will be limited; all orders will be processed as received.


Important dates for the 2023 program:

  • Training and fertile egg order registration: December 15 – January 31
  • Beginner training options: Feb. 15 OR March 7, 4:30-6:30 p.m.
  • Advanced Training option: March 8, 4:30-6:00 p.m.
  • Fertile egg pick-up: April 5 from 2-4:30pm or April 6, 2023 from 7am- 4:30 p.m.
  • Hatch week begins: April 24-28.
  • Complete the State 4-H Chick Embryology Qualtrics survey, which is located at, by May 5.
  • Upload all class/school Group Enrollment forms by May 5.


Important program notes:

  • Trainings will be in a virtual format this year.
  • Teachers are encouraged to provide their own equipment to participate in this project.
  • There is a minimum of 2 dozen eggs on each order and all egg orders in multiples of 2 dozen.
  • We cannot guarantee fertility of eggs (average 90% fertility rate).
  • We cannot guarantee hatch of eggs, as so many factors can impact project success.
  • This program is designed for those who teach in McHenry & Lake Counties. To find a local program, contact your local Extension office.


REGISTER for 2023 Embryology & Incubation


If you have questions, please feel free to contact me. We look forward to working with you in the new year!


Michele Aavang
4-H Youth Development Program Coordinator | office: 815-338-3737 | remote: 217-265-8059



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