URBANA, Ill. -- In 4-H, learning about horses means much more than learning to ride. Young people with a passion for horses participated in recent state educational contests related to the equine industry. 4-H’s educational programs enhance members’ knowledge of horse health, breed characteristics, management, and feeding. That knowledge and skills were tested during the March State 4-H Hippology Contest.

In Hippology, youth field a wide range of questions, ranging from breed identification, anatomy, tack identification, and feed samples to disease management, parasite identification, and quality assessment. They also are given a timed problem-solving challenge they must solve on the spot. Horse ownership is not a pre-requisite in the either the educational program or contest.

“Hippology and Horse Bowl 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 senior age division include:

Central Region

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

Northwest Region

  • Olivia Charles, Carroll County, first 
  • Samantha Lind, DeKalb County, second
  • Tea Thomas, Whiteside County, third
  • Desiree Reid, Mercer County, fourth
  • Lauren Burrs, Carroll County, fifth
  • Natalie Johnson, Ogle County, sixth
  • Elinor Ellingson, Boone County, seventh
  • Sophia Mirabal, Boone County, eighth
  • Savannah Mirabal, Boone County, ninth
  • Alicia Downey, Boone County, tenth

Northeast Region

  • Lacie Hamiel, McHenry County, first
  • Katrina Kowalski, McHenry County, second

South Region

  • Eliza Engelhardt, Marion County, first 
  • Avie Counts, Pope County, second
  • Bailey DuChene, Monroe County, third
  • Alexsys Hammond, Marion County, fourth
  • Annika Olson, Monroe County, fifth

Top finishers by region in the intermediate age division include:

Central Region

  • Elizabeth Ellis, McLean County, first
  • Kristina Morrow, Logan County, second
  • Rachel Morris, Clark County, third
  • Lillian Bullard, Tazewell County, fourth
  • Emma Quinton, McLean County, fifth
  • Jessalyn Eisenmann, Iroquois County, sixth
  • Stephanie Sterrenberg, Iroquois County, seventh
  • Savannah Bailey, Champaign County, eighth
  • Sarah Larkin, Tazewell County, ninth
  • Abby Erlenbush, Christian County, tenth

Northwest Region

  • Allison Burrs, Carroll County, first
  • Talisa Thomas, Whiteside County, second
  • Emily Conlee, Knox County, third
  • Ellis Rogers, Knox County, fourth
  • Abigail Schmidt, Carroll County, fifth
  • Linnea Thorngren, Carroll County, sixth
  • Sophia Frykman, Boone County, seventh
  • Palak Rawani, Rock Island County, eighth
  • Pacey Wyant, DeKalb County, ninth
  • Avery Stegall, Knox County, tenth

Northeast Region

  • Miabella Carzoli, McHenry County, first
  • Jake Hamiel, McHenry County, second
  • Cheyanne Young, McHenry County, third
  • Michaela Persico, Kendall County, fourth

South Region

  • Shelby Bove, Monroe County, first
  • Sydney Woodard, Monroe County, second
  • Hannah Wenzel, Saline County in third
  • Madelynn Mohr, Monroe County, fourth
  • Shelby Pribble, Saline County, fifth
  • Maya Woodard, Monroe County, sixth
  • Shaylen Rowland, Franklin County, seventh
  • Kylee Hutchison, Marion County, eighth
  • Annsley Healy, White County, ninth

Top finishers by region in the junior age division include:

Central Region

  • Lexi Merriman, DeWitt County, first 
  • Claire Quinton, McLean County, second
  •  Summer Berlin, Tazewell County, third
  • Lillian Elsea, DeWitt County, fourth
  • Claire Conner, Champaign County, fifth
  • Caitlan Ritter, McLean County, sixth
  • Reagan Zeigler, Tazewell County, seventh
  • Libby Stipanovich, Livingston County, eighth
  • Brynlee Callahan, DeWitt County, ninth

Northwest Region

  • Sawyer Stockton, Ogle County, first
  • Emma Steiger, Rock Island County, second
  • Alexander Serre, Rock Island County, third
  • Payton Frueh, Bureau County, fourth
  • Rylan Holman, Knox County, fifth
  • Eleanor Hooper, DeKalb County, sixth
  • Bailey Callahan, Rock Island County, seventh
  • Nicholas Gorbach, Rock Island County, eighth
  • Addisyn Honeyman, Knox County, ninth
  • Alexis Kemmeren, Carroll County, tenth

Northeast Region

  • Annelie Veeder, Kendall County, first
  • Alexis Modaff, Kendall County, second
  • Stefani Vanderstappen, McHenry County, third
  • Gianna Carzoli, McHenry County, fourth
  • Mollianne Kohl, McHenry County, fifth

South Region

  • Paige Koch, Monroe County, first
  • Mallory Starwalt, Marion County, second
  • Julia Muertz, Monroe County, third

Illinois youth competing in the National 4-H Hippology 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