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Competition takes youth into the great outdoors

youth in a boat holds a fish
Braxton Kirk of Wayne County tied for first place

Urbana, Ill. – Youth from across Illinois headed into the great outdoors to participate in the statewide 4-H Hooks Us Together Virtual Fishing Crappie Challenge in April.

While competition is the focus, participating youth take away much more from the experience.

“When a kid cares about fishing as a young person, it’s a passion that sticks with them for a lifetime,” says Curt Sinclair, University of Illinois Extension 4-H youth development specialist. “It also develops into a larger picture when they are a bit older in that they then care about the environment the fish need to thrive, from water quality to aquatic ecosystems, to the healthy food for their family the fish provides.”

Youth take pictures of the measurements of their catches and were able to enter catches virtually as many times as they wish. Braxton Kirk of Wayne County and Hunter Stevens of Saline County tied for first place in the April competition.

While the competition takes place virtually, the competition gets youth outdoors and learning about the environment through a fun activity.

“I feel a connection to nature and the environment when I'm fishing,” says Hunter Stevens of Saline County who tied for first place. “It helps me forget about things that are on my mind and helps me relax.”

youth in camouflaged poses in a boat
Hunter Stevens of Saline County tied for first place

Second place went to Abe Sutton of White County who shared, “I like being outdoors fishing because it’s so fun. It’s relaxing and peaceful when I’m paddling the canoe and casting my line, but it’s exciting when I get to reel one in.”

Remyngton Fuller of Franklin County was named the third-place winner.

The tournament takes place April to June, with competition focusing on a different species of fish each month. In May the competition will center on Largemouth Bass and in June on Channel Catfish. Those who wish to learn more information can visit the competition website.

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:  Curt Sinclair University of Illinois Extension 4-H Youth Development Specialist,

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