Area 4-H youth earn top honors in online equine contest

ST. CHARLES – 4-H members from DuPage, Kane and Kendall Counties dominated the top spots in all three divisions of the Illinois 4-H Northeast Regional Hippology Contest, which was transitioned to an online format this year.

While Hippology means the study of horses, 4-H’ers do not need to own or ride horses to participate in the contest. In this year’s four Illinois 4-H Regional Hippology contests, individuals completed both an online question test and an online visual stations test to earn a combined score, similar to the past in-person exams. Those placing in the top eight of their regional age division, or earning 100 or more points, qualify for the state contest.

“These 4-H members spend months studying academic and science materials, and taking grueling practice tests,” said Amy Henschen, 4-H Youth Development Educator, University of Illinois Extension of DuPage, Kane and Kendall counties. “Their hard work paid off this month and many will go on to compete at state.”

The 2020 Northeast Regional event drew participants from DuPage, Grundy, Kendall, Kane and McHenry counties. Contest participants answer questions about equine anatomy and care including: diseases, genetics, parasites, feed, nutrition, behavior, breeds, equipment and the digestive, respiratory, skeletal, endocrine, and circulatory systems.

In the senior division, Kane County 4-H’er Elizabeth Melton of St. Charles earned first place with 122 points, followed by Hannah Barnes of McHenry County in second, fellow Kane County member Jessilyn Weibel of Wayne in third, and Brittney Rhyner of McHenry County in fourth.

In the intermediate division, Kendall County 4-H’er Michaela Persico of Montgomery took first-place honors with 151 points, followed very closely by DuPage County 4-H’er Ravinia Zillmer of Bartlett. Rounding out the top five were Kane County 4-H’ers Cameryn Rockwell (St. Charles) and Matilda Nassenstein (Batavia), and Kendall County’s Liliana Casbarian (Yorkville). Kane County’s Neale Guvenoz (St. Charles) placed sixth ahead of Kayla Connelly of Grundy County.

The junior division was led by Kendall County 4-H member Alexis Modaff of Oswego with 146 points, followed by fellow Kendall County participant Annalise Walker (Yorkville). Also placing in the top six were McHenry County 4-H’ers Alissa Lessner, Ava Kardaras, Stefani Vanderstappen and Mollianne Kohl.

“Several 4-H volunteers help teach and inspire these 4-H’ers, and volunteers are the reason many of our youth are prepared and able to participate in valuable opportunities like this one,” said Henschen. “Through these experiences, 4-H members build important life skills, such as time management, preparation and communication.”

For more information on 4-H in DuPage, Kane or Kendall counties, visit