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Illinois 4-H Skillathon Team Crowned National Champions

pigs with 4-H logo

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The Illinois 4-H Livestock Skillathon Team recently topped 20 teams from across U.S. to bring home the National 4-H Livestock Skillathon Champion title. The contest was held in conjunction with the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, KY.  

This year’s contest marked the first win for the Illinois team as they faced a record number of competition entries. 

“It was a fantastic and memorable day,” says coach Eric Fugate of Champaign County. “This is the nicest and most supportive team that I have ever had. It made them a joy to coach and made me look forward to each and every workout. They worked incredibly hard.”

In addition to the national title, Illinois was awarded high team in Evaluation, high team in Quality Assurance, and fourth overall in Evaluation.

This year’s Illinois State 4-H Livestock Skillathon team included: Chase Hummel of Kankakee County, Olivia Shike of Champaign County, Drew Mickey of Christian County, and Emma Pistorius of Christian County.

skillathon team poses with banners

Team members are chosen to compete at the national level based on their performance at a statewide competition held as part of the Illinois State Fair.

“We start in August right after State Fair, and it’s a sprint to get to this contest,” says Fugate. “The sheer quantity of information that these kids need to learn and retain is incredible.”

Individual team members were also each named All Americans due to their competition performance. Four out of the top five high overall individual placings were taken by Illinois 4-H team members.

Chase Hummel of Kankakee County placed overall high individual, first in Identification, tenth in Evaluation and ninth in Quality Assurance.

Olivia Shike of Champaign County placed second overall individual, second in Quality Assurance, third in Evaluation, and fifth in Identification.

Drew Mickey of Christian County placed fourth overall individual and third in Identification.

Emma Pistorius of Christian County placed fifth high overall, fourth in Identification, and fourth in Quality Assurance.

“It’s exciting to see this team work to continue our ongoing skillathon legacy and raising the bar to the highest levels possible for future teams to strive to match,” says Fugate.

The Illinois 4-H Foundation provides support for this program.  

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: Eric Fugate, Illinois Skillathon team coach

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