Learn more about 4-H news and updates for your county!
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 Becky Needham, 4-H EPC

2020 has been a different year, but we are still excited to connect with our 4-H families in new ways. Webinars, virtual 4-H clubs, youth challenges and other alternate methods of engagement allow us to continue to serve the community during this time. Many 4-H events within other units now have state-wide availablilty as they are being presented virtually. Check in on the Extension events page to see what 4-H events are coming up soon. Be sure to connect with us by following us on Facebook. Information is also updated on the 4-H website on a regular basis.

If you have questions, feel free to reach out to me at (618) 687-1727 or bneedham@illinois.edu.

- Becky Needham, Jackson County 4-H Extension Program Coordinator


Through funding from the Walmart Foundation, the 4-H Healthy Habits teach skills in nutrition and food access to underserved youth and families. On behalf of Jackson County 4-H, Becky Needham delivered 15 meal boxes to Unity Point School that were distributed to families in need within our community! The kits contained a 4-H cookbook, handwashing and knife safety information, and the supplies and recipes needed to make six full meals.

 4-H cloverleaf

Every year, National 4-H Week sees millions of youth, parents, volunteers and alumni come together to celebrate the many positive youth development opportunities offered by 4-H. The theme for 2020 National 4-H Week, Opportunity4All, was a campaign created by National 4-H Council to rally support for Cooperative Extension’s 4-H program and identify solutions to eliminate the opportunity gap that affects 55 million kids across America. We enjoyed seeing all of the 4-H posts celebrating National 4-H Week!

STEM items 

We want to invite volunteers and teen teachers to the Illinois 4-H STEM Curriculum Training! This remote-access training is your opportunity to receive hands-on experience in using Quads Away (Drones)DIY Make and Build (Maker) and our new eSports Pilot Curriculum. Many things have been updated or added to these materials since their introduction to better align with your programming needs in a virtual space. Updated versions of each will be sent out to all participants (and posted immediately following the training). This training is not meant to produce content experts but rather process experts with the skills needed to incorporate these materials into your programming.

This training will be divided into three separate two-hour training sessions focused on each curriculum topic. Attendees can feel free to attend one or all of them. During the training, participants will be briefly guided through each curriculum and will have the opportunity to do some of the included activities from each. Participants will also have the chance to explore SPIN and community club options with the 4-H STEM Team and other PYD professionals and volunteers. Those who choose to enroll in the Maker training before December 6 will receive a set of materials to complete Activity 1: Popsicle Flashlight from the DIY Make and Build Curriculum.

Who: 4-H Educators, Program Coordinators, Volunteers, Club Leaders, Teen Leaders, the University of Illinois Extension IT department, and invited partner-organization members.

Date and Time: Friday, December 11, 2020

  •  9 -11 a.m.- Quads Away (Drones)
  • 12 - 2 p.m. - DIY Make & Build (Maker)
  •   3 - 5 p.m. - eSports Pilot Curriculum 

Where: Zoom call. A link will be provided with the day's agenda and other details before the training.

Registration closes on Thursday, December 10, 2020, but to receive Maker materials, you must be registered by December 6. If you have not registered, there is still time! Use this link and sign up today! Please feel free to send any questions or concerns to the Illinois 4-H STEM Team.

 keyboard and headset

With eSports becoming one of the largest growing tech industries in the world, with annual revenue of $1.5 billion with an expectation to reach $2.2 billion by 2023, it is time that our youth become poised and ready to meet the demands of this growing field.

Are you at least 12 years old and own a computer or gaming system? This year Illinois 4-H released a pilot curriculum focused on the growing field of electronic sports or eSports, and we would like to pilot it with you! As a pilot, we hope to modify the curriculum based on the youth's feedback and input. Under the direction of Illinois 4-H Computer Science Innovator Eric Li, youth will be virtually guided (using Zoom) through the eSports Pilot curriculum, learn the basics of the eSports field, and learn about the hardware and software that makes eSports possible. In addition, youth will play and practice their favorite games as a team and potentially compete in one or more eSports competitions through the Spring and Summer.

Registration for this opportunity will open on December 1 and close on January 15, with meetings beginning the third week of January. Schedule and goals will be determined/presented in the first meeting with plans on meeting at least twice a month (and more frequently before competitions). 

Interested youth can register through this link. For questions or comments, please contact the Illinois 4-H STEM Team.

watering plant 

The Illinois 4-H Sustaining the Future Award deadline has been extended to Jan. 8, 2021. This award is sponsored by the Illinois Farm Bureau and affiliate companies. Winners of this award are eligible to attend the Premier 20 Youth Leadership Conference in April. Delegates for this conference are selected based on their outstanding leadership within either 4-H or FFA. More information and details can be found here.

Applicants must be age 17-19 as of Sept. 1, 2020 and wishing to pursue a career in the agriculture industry. The application deadline is Jan. 8, 2021. Click here to apply.

 target with clover in the center

Illinois 4-H Shooting Sports leaders have submitted 267 scores from 124 registered 4-H shooters in the on-going 2020 4-H Virtual State Shoot! This statewide competition runs through December 31, 2020 and awards will be given to the top five finishers in shotgun, archery, and air rifle in January, 2021.   Please contact Curt Sinclair with any questions at sinclair@illinois.edu.


Register to participate in the 4-H Volunteer Café Conversations Illinois 4-H recently launched a platform for 4-H Volunteers from across Illinois to meet virtually and discuss topics of interest and share both ideas and challenges. Volunteers will gain access to tools and techniques to support their volunteer efforts, strengthening 4-H club and member learning experiences. 4-H will address two topics during each Café Conversation, so come with your ideas, questions, and since this is a Café Conversation, feel free to bring a snack as well! Upcoming conversation dates:

  • Thursday, February 18, 2021; 7 PM
  • Thursday, May 20, 2021; 7 PM

4-H members and clubs continue to demonstrate they are True Leaders in Service, as they have worked independently to support their personal and club goals of making a difference in their community by focusing their energies on the fourth “H” as they pledge their HANDS to larger service! Illinois 4-H members and clubs have demonstrated how to Make the Best Better during the COVID-19 crisis by developing plans and taking action. Members have collected and donated food to stock shelves at local food pantries, reached out to vulnerable populations who may not have family members close to pick up needed supplies, and made hundreds of face masks to distribute to medical facilities, local businesses, and in communities.

If you did not register your plan for service outreach, please use this link to share your plan. Be sure to also follow-up and report what you accomplished through your service project. The accomplishments of both individual members and clubs will be highlighted on the Illinois 4-H website. Make sure you use the reporting link located in the middle of the page where it says, CLICK HERE, to report your 4-H Community Service. Activity to provide your club update!

standing in corn field with iPad 

At the National 4-H Youth Summit on Agri-Science, high school students develop the skills and knowledge needed for the challenges facing agriculture, food security, and sustainability. Students will work with each other and experts in the agricultural community in this collaborative, hands-on educational setting. The summit will be an opportunity to meet like-minded peers from across the country, learn more about career opportunities, and network with professionals in the field of Agri-science. As a cornerstone of the experience, participants are challenged to identify and develop action plans that address agriculture issues in their community. For more information, click here or contact Mark Becker

 owl in nest

It's not too late to jump in on the Barred Owl Nest Box Challenge.  Last year over 30 sets of boxes were installed and will be monitored this coming spring!  New boxes must be made and set by mid-January at the latest to give momma owl time to find and choose her favorite style of nest box!  For details and instructions, contact Curt Sinclair.


If you are curious as to what college or career is right for you, plan now to join us and discover new possibilities at the Illini Summer Academies (ISA)! At ISA you can expect a fun and exploratory experience featuring a virtual academy session and a variety of new workshops and fun virtual activities. For questions, contact the Illini Summer Academy.


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