URBANA, Ill. – The top 4-H horse project learners competed in the Illinois 4-H Horse Bowl Contest in March. Though competitive, the contest inspires connection and belonging with youth who are passionate about the equine industry. 

Horse Bowl functions much like a scholastic bowl in a school setting where the emphasis is on equine knowledge. Youth compete both individually as teams. Horse ownership is not a pre-requisite in the contest. 4-H’s educational programs enhance members’ knowledge of horse health, breed characteristics, management, and feeding. 

“Horse Bowl and Hippology are such inclusive events because youth don’t need to own a horse to participate; they just need to have a passion for horses,” says Debra Hagstrom, University of Illinois Extension specialist. “I think after this past year, we realized, more than ever, how important it is to feel that sense of connection and belonging. I love that these events bring together youth with similar passions.”

The virtual format didn’t stop the sense of camaraderie and teamwork youth have felt in past events.

“More than anything, we wanted this to be a special event for the kids, so we put a lot of thought into the planning,” says Hagstrom. “In some ways, it was easier as families didn’t have to travel, but we wanted to be sure we created a comparable format that still allowed the connection and engagement of an in-person event.”

Youth were excited to gather in a virtual format and compete against teams and individuals from across the state.

“Although the in-person event is far superior, everyone was very appreciative of the opportunity to participate,” says Hagstrom.

Top finishers by region in the junior age team division include:

Central Region

  • McLean/Livingston County Team: Emma Quinton, Claire Quinton, Kamryn Rader, Caitlan Ritter, and Libby Stipanovich; first
  • Champaign/Iroquois County Team: Savannah Bailey, Claire Conner, Eiralys Unzicker, and Jessalyn Eisenmann; second
  • Tazewell County Team: Lilian Bullard, Reagan Zeigler, Sarah Larkin, and Summer Berlin; third
  • DeWitt County Team: Lexi Merriman, Brynlee Callahan, and Lillian Elsea; fourth

South Region

  • Monroe County Team 1: Shelby Bove, Maya Woodard, and Madelynn Mohr; first
  • Saline/Franklin/Marion County Team: Shelby Pribble, Shaylen Rowland, and Mallory Starwalt; second
  • Monroe County Team 2: Sydney Woodard, Paige Koch, and Julia Muertz; third

Northwest Region

  • Knox/Bureau County Team: Emily Conlee, Grant Alexander, Payton Frueh, and Rylan Holman; first
  • Carroll/Ogle/Rock Island County Team: Palak Rawani, Linnea Thorngren, Sawyer Stockton, Addison Yordy, and Alexis Kemmeren; second
  • Boone County Team: William Ellingson, Willard Rozanas, Sophia Frykman, Talayna Steiner, and Caylor Steiner; third
  • Rock Island County Team: Emma Steiger Nicholas Gorbach, Alexander Serre, Emma DeKeyrel, and Bailey Callahan; fourth
  • Knox County Team : Avery Stegall, Addisyn Honeyman, and Julian Henry; fifth
  • DeKalb County Team: Pacey Wyant, Eleanor Hooper, Ellie Davis, and Emalie Freehill; sixth

Top finishers by region in the individual junior age division include:

Central Region

  • Emma Quinton, McLean County, first
  • Jessalyn Eisenmann, Iroquois County, second
  • Lillian Bullard, Tazewell County, third
  • Lexi Merriman, DeWitt County, fourth
  • Claire Quinton, McLean County, fifth
  • Kamryn Rader, McLean County, sixth
  • Reagan Zeigler, Tazewell County, seventh
  • Savannah Bailey, Champaign County, eighth
  • Caitlan Ritter, McLean County, ninth
  • Claire Conner, Champaign County, tenth

Northeast region

  • Annelise Veeder, Kendall County, first 

South Region

  • Shelby Bove, Monroe County, first
  • Maya Woodard, Monroe County, second
  • Sydney Woodard, Monroe County, third
  • Madelynn Mohr, Monroe County, fourth 
  • Shelby Pribble, Saline County, fifth
  • Shaylen Rowland, Franklin County, sixth
  • Paige Koch, Monroe County, seventh
  • Julia Muertz, Monroe County, eighth
  • Mallory Starwalt, Marion County, ninth

Northwest Region

  • Emily Conlee, Knox County, first
  • Palak Rawani, Rock Island County, second
  • Grant Alexander, Knox County, third
  • Liam Ellingson, Boone County, fourth
  • Emma Steiger, Rock Island, fifth
  • Linnea Thorngren, Carroll County, sixth
  • Avery Stegall, Knox County, seventh
  • Willard Rozanas, Boone County, eighth
  • Payton Frueh, Bureau County, ninth
  • Sophia Frykman, Boone County, tenth

Top finishers by region in the senior age team division include:

Central Region

  • Logan/Tazewell/DeWitt County Team: Ruthie Ruhl, Kristina Morrow, David Morrow, Jessica West, and Nicholas Larkin; first 
  • Jasper County Team: Alex Osborne, Chloe Jansen, Taylor Slough, and Virgil Jansen; second 
  • McLean/Livingston County Team: Elizabeth Ellis, Vivienne Pratt, Elizabeth Mallinson, and Kaitlyn Monical; third (tie)
  • Champaign/Iroquois County Team: Delaney Smith, Elowyn Unzicker, and Stephanie Sterrenberg; third (tie)

South Region

  • Marion County Team: Eliza Engelhardt, Rachel Neubauer, Kristi Moody, Lauren Keltner, and Alexsys Hammond; first
  • Monroe/Pope/Saline Team: Hannah Wenzel, Avie Counts, Bailey DuChene, and Annika Olson; second

Northwest Region

  • Carroll/Whiteside County Team: Olivia Charles, Tea Thomas, Lauren Burrs, and Talisa Thomas; first 
  • Knox/McDonough/Mercer County Team: Desiree Reid, Ellis Rogers, Rosalind Flater, and Ava Kilburn; second
  • Carroll/Rock Island County Team: Allison Burrs, Abigail Schmidt, and Anna Taylor; third
  • Boone County Team: Elinor Ellingson, Sophia Mirabal, Savannah Mirabal, Alicia Downey, and Carl Rozanas; fourth
  • Ogle County Team: Natalie Johnson, Dylon Timmer, and Cassidy Vincent; fifth

Top finishers by region in the individual senior age division include:

Central Region

  • Ruthie Ruhl, Logan County, first
  • Kristina Morrow,Logan County, second
  • Alex Osborne, Jasper County, third
  • David Morrow, Logan County, fourth
  • Delaney Smith, Champaign County, fifth
  • Elizabeth Ellis, McLean County, sixth
  • Vivienne Pratt, Livingston County, seventh
  • Chloe Jansen, Jasper County, eighth
  • Elowyn Unzicker, Champaign County, ninth
  • Taylor Slough, Jasper County, tenth

Northwest Region

  • Olivia Charles, Carroll County, first
  • Tea Thomas, Whiteside County, second
  • Desiree Reid, Mercer County, third
  • Lauren Burrs, Carroll County, fourth
  • Talisa Thomas, Whiteside County, fifth
  • Natalie Johnson, Ogle County, sixth
  • Allison Burrs, Carroll County, seventh
  • Abigail Schmidt of Carroll County, eighth
  • Ellis Rogers of Knox County, ninth
  • Elinor Ellingson, Boone county, tenth

Northeast Region

  • Michaela Persico, Kendall County, first

South Region

  • Eliza Engelhardt, Marion County, first
  • Hannah Wenzel, Saline County, second
  • Rachel Neubauer, Marion County, third
  • Avie Counts, Pope County, fourth
  • Kristi Moody, Marion County, fifth
  • Lauren Keltner, Marion County, sixth
  • Bailey DuChene, Monroe County, seventh
  • Annika Olson, Monroe County, eighth
  • Alexsys Hammond, Marion County, ninth

Illinois youth competing in the National 4-H Horse Bowl Contest are supported by the Illinois 4-H Foundation and its donors.

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:  Deb Hagstrom, University of Illinois Extension Specialist, Horses hagstrom@illinois.edu

WRITER:  Carissa Nelson, Media Communications Manager, 4-H State Office, carissa@illinois.edu