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4-H member learns life, career skills at national competition

girl receiving award

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – 4-H member Elaina Smith of Adams County placed eighth in past production hens and 18th overall as she competed against 78 contestants from 19 states at the National 4-H Poultry and Egg Conference.

The National 4-H Poultry and Egg Conference recognizes 4-H members who have excelled in their state 4-H poultry learning activities. The overall objective is to offer national level activities and contests designed to introduce participants to poultry and the poultry industry. Life skills are also learned through preparation for the various contests. The conference also introduces the participants to careers in the poultry and allied industries.

Skills tested during competition include orderly decision-making, using reasoning skills, communicating decisions, poultry dish preparation, food safety, and subject matter knowledge of species of poultry, food safety, physiology, nutrition, and eggs.

“I would have to say that coaching Elaina has taken me back to my 4-H career,” says coach Siera Duesterhaus, University of Illinois Extension 4-H Adams County Extension program coordinator. “When I started this job last February, I wanted to start a poultry judging team, and my goal was a five year goal to get back to the national contest. I just didn’t know it would happen so soon. The look on Elaina’s face when her name was called was pure shock. I was just so happy for her.”

Outside of competition knowledge, national competitions also help youth learn life skills such as becoming informed consumers, food safety, leadership, communication skills, problem-solving, and decision making.

“It’s great to get kids to state and national events,” says Duesterhaus. “I want all 4-H members to have the best experiences and remember that time they went to a state or national contest.”

Financial support was provided by the University of Illinois Department of Animal Sciences, the State 4-H Office, and the Illinois 4-H Foundation.

About Illinois 4-H: Illinois 4-H is the flagship youth development program of University of Illinois Extension and administered through the College of Agriculture, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences. 4-H grows true leaders, youth who are empowered for life today and prepared for a career tomorrow. The hands-on approach in 4-H gives young people guidance, tools, and encouragement, and then puts them in the driver’s seat to make great things happen. Independent research confirms the unparalleled impact of the 4-H experience, demonstrating that young people are four times more likely to contribute to their communities; two times more likely to make healthier choices; two times more likely to be civically active; and two times more likely to participate in STEM programs. 

About Extension: Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities. 

Source: Siera Duesterhaus, 4-H Adams County Extension Program Coordinator,

Writer:  Carissa Nelson, Media Communications Manager, 4-H State Office,