Youth gain confidence, courage in horse speaking contest

Urbana, Ill. – The University of Illinois Extension 4-H Horse Speaking contest helps youth gain self-confidence, courage and persuasiveness; share ideas with others; and develop the ability to speak in public to inform others about horse-related subjects and the 4-H Horse project. This year’s contest was held April 23 on the University of Illinois campus.

Youth compete in one of five divisions, and all presentation subjects must pertain to the horse industry, or be horse related, and be original and factual. Presentations cannot involve the use of live animals; however, model animals may be used. 

In Original Individual Formal Speech, youth share a prepared formal speech on a horse-related topic. In Senior Formal Speech, Blake Meeker of Knox County took first place with a piece titled “Equine Dewormer Resistance.” In Junior Formal Speech, Lexi Merriman of Dewitt County took first with a piece titled “Equine Laminitis.”

In Original Individual Presentation youth may use either demonstration or illustrated talk on an idea or topic and may use visual aids. In Junior Individual Presentation, Lexi Merriman of Dewitt County took first with a piece titled “Understanding Forages for the Equine Diet.” Hadassah Hobson of Monroe County took second with a piece titled, “Dancing Horses: An Exploration of the Airs Above the Ground.”

In Extempore Speaking, a topic is selected at the event and participants have 25 minutes to prepare a four-to-six minute speech. In Senior Extemporaneous, Ava Kilburn of McDonough County placed first; Grant Alexander of Knox County placed second; Sydney Woodard of Monroe County placed third; and Maya Woodard of Monroe County placed fourth.

In Interpretive Reading, youth use the art of reading aloud from a printed page. Youth may choose prose, poetry, short stories, play cuttings, narratives, book or review, or theatrical that is horse-related. Blake Meeker of Knox County took first with a piece titled, “If I Ran the Horse Show: All About Horses.” Julian Henry of Knox County took second with a piece titled, “National Velvet.”

In Junior Team Problem Solving, Rock Island County youth Nicholas Gorbach and Emma Steiger took first with a piece titled “Designing a Horse Barn.”

This year’s event also included Horse Bowl and Hippology state contests.

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. 

For Further Information, contact:

Source:  Deb Hagstrom, University of Illinois Extension Specialist, Horses

Writer:  Carissa Nelson, Media Communications Manager, 4-H State Office,