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Next generation of livestock leaders gain hands-on skills at youth conference

youth attending conference

DECATUR, Ill.— The next generation of livestock leaders gained hands-on experience in the livestock field at this year’s Illinois 4-H Junior Livestock Conference held Jan. 21-22 at the Decatur Hotel & Conference Center. 

Attendees included 100 youth from 50 counties across Illinois, with youth members of the 4-H Livestock Ambassador Team helping to plan and execute this learning experience aimed at 7th, 8th, and 9th graders. This year’s conference theme was “Livestock in Paradise.”

Cody Noller, Stockton, and Brogan Keltner, Pearl City, attended.

“It was such a fun experience creating new friends and learning new skills of the livestock industry,” says Brogan Keltner.

Teen leaders were excited to share their knowledge and skills with the youth who will follow in their footsteps as they shape their paths in the livestock industry.

“It’s fun to watch the next generation pick up and enjoy the livestock area,” says Livestock Ambassador Team member Makenna Green of Douglas County. “I had a lot of people do that for me when I was younger and it’s fun to give back. We’re developing skills as teachers at the same time they’re developing hands-on skills.”

Attendees participated in “Glove-Up Sessions” throughout the conference, which allowed them to work hands-on in various skills, such as giving injections, wound suturing, product quality, marketing, and more.

“During the sessions, I learned how to suture, artificially inseminate, vet tech skills, and public speaking. My favorite session was artificial insemination, stated Cody Noller.

The event focused on education and created great opportunities to build camaraderie and a sense of teamwork around a shared passion for the livestock industry.

“I think if you want to gain knowledge in the livestock field, meet new people, and have a fun weekend, the Jr. Livestock Conference is for you,” said Noller.



Picture: Left to Right: Cody Noller and Brogan Keltner enjoyed their action-packed weekend at the Jr. Livestock Conference in Decatur, IL.
















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. The Illinois Farm Bureau and Illinois Pork Producers provided financial support for this event through the Illinois 4-H Foundation.


About Illinois 4-H: 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.