Youth come together to make their mark in the livestock industry

URBANA, Ill.— Illinois teens will gather to gain hands-on experience in the livestock field in this year’s Illinois 4-H Junior Livestock Conference on April 24 and 25.  The theme of this year’s conference is “Making Your Mark,” highlighting the roles and skills that youth can take in shaping the future of the livestock industry.

“There are so many ways teens can make their mark on the livestock industry, from learning how to identify disease to branding a steer to developing a new feed ration,” says Dan Jennings, University of Illinois Extension 4-H animal systems youth development educator.  “Our goal with this conference and all of our programming is to help shape the next generation of leaders.”

Teens will participate in various “Glove-Up Sessions” throughout the conference that will allow them to work hands-on in a variety of skills, such as milking a mechanical cow, practicing wound care on live animals, creating feed formulations, and more.

“Glove up sessions are hands-on workshops that allow youth to actually put on gloves and gain experience right there in the conference,” Jennings says. “Providing the information is great, but there’s no substitute for practicing the skill in a guided setting right there in the moment.”

Hands-on workshop sessions include poultry, egg judging and breed i.d.; mastitis testing and milking a cow; making rope halters, saddle fitting and livestock knots; livestock i.d. techniques; nutrition experiments; magna wave laser therapy; and hoof trimming, bandaging, and wound care.

Tasha Bunting, Illinois Farm Bureau associate director of commodities and livestock programs, will provide the closing keynote for the event. 

All Illinois Department of Public Health COVID-19 protocols will be enforced: masks must be worn by youth, staff, and volunteers at all times; 6-foot social distancing will be encouraged; handwashing stations will be available; attendance is limited to 26 per day. Youth must indicate which day they’re attending (April 24 or April 25) when they register online.

The event cost is $50.  Those interested can sign up here.  Registrations close April 12, although the conference capacity may fill up sooner.

The Illinois Farm Bureau provides financial support for this event through the Illinois 4-H Foundation.

If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate, contact Carla Blue, event coordinator, at Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time to meet your access needs.

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. 

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Source: Dan Jennings, 4-H Animal Systems Youth Development Educator University of Illinois Extension,

News Writer: Carissa Nelson, 4-H Media Communications Manager, University of Illinois Extension,