The Illinois 4-H youth development program empowers and prepares youth for success by providing opportunities for youth to learn, practice, and demonstrate skills needed for home, career, and global citizenship. Youth, organized in clubs, study areas of interest called 4-H projects. Projects include a wide range of interests: animal science, civic engagement, leadership, career development, STEM, environment, creative arts, and healthy living.
In a typical year, these 4-H members would demonstrate their knowledge learned in the project areas at summer exhibitions of their work, says Lisa Diaz, University of Illinois Extension assistant dean and state 4-H director. The best exhibits would then advance to state competition held annually during the Illinois State Fair.
This year, county 4-H exhibitions have transitioned to a virtual rather than in-person contest. “University of Illinois Extension is committed to the health and safety of our youth, families, staff, and volunteers,” Diaz says. “Though in-person judging can’t happen, project learning never stopped. Illinois 4-H responded in new ways to reach youth in new, virtual settings.”
With the cancellation of the state fair, Illinois 4-H is announcing its state general project show will continue in the same virtual format as local county 4-H exhibitions this year. “Though the format is virtual, 4-H members will still receive expert-level evaluation of their project work,” Diaz says. “All youth will be eligible for awards and prizes, as in the past, and we are thankful for the continued support and partnership with the Illinois Department of Agriculture on this important event.”
The Illinois Department of Agriculture announced that a Jr Livestock Expo will be held in September for Illinois exhibitors ages 8-21. 4-H members in animal science projects will have the opportunity to participate in a modified in-person judging experience at this event.