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Youth have 'reel' fun in June contest

two people sitting in chairs fishing


URBANA, Ill. – Illinois youth headed to the great outdoors to participate in the statewide 4-H Hooks Us Together Virtual Fishing Channel Catfish Challenge in June. This was the culminating event for the spring contest.

Hunter Stevens of Saline County was a top finisher in all three contest months, earning her the title of 2022 Illinois 4-H Angler of the Year.

“Hunter is an inspiration to all other 4-H youth who are either already enrolled in sports fishing or were thinking they might be in the future,” says Curt Sinclair, University of Illinois Extension 4-H youth development specialist.

Youth took pictures of the measurements of their catches and were able to enter catches virtually as many times as they wish. Hunter took first place with a 31" channel catfish catch.

Other top finishers include: Tyler Stahl of Peoria County placed second with a 28" catch; Braxton Kirk of Wayne County placed third with a 27" catch; Zulrich Stoltz of Fulton County placed fourth with a 26" catch; and Jessica McVey of Shelby County placed fifth with a 25” catch.

youth in hat poses with a fish
2022 Illinois 4-H Angler of the Year, Hunter Stevens of Saline County, poses with winning catch

While the competition takes place virtually, the competition gets youth outdoors and learning about the environment through a fun activity.

 “I feel a connection to nature and the environment when I'm fishing,” says winner Hunter Stevens. “It helps me forget about things that are on my mind and helps me relax.”

The 4-H Hooks-Us-Together fishing contest took place April, May, and June as Illinois youth entered pictures and data of their catches of crappie, largemouth bass, and channel catfish during this timeframe and winners were determined by the length of their catch in inches.

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: Curt Sinclair University of Illinois Extension 4-H Youth Development Specialist,

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