Latest Updates from Statewide 4-H

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4-H Volunteers Receive State-Level Awards

Wed, 04/17/2024 - 12:49

Twenty-two adult volunteers, one 4-H member, and a family of volunteers are being recognized with 2024 Nebraska 4-H Volunteer Awards.

The Johnson and Harbin families from Burt County are receiving the Multi-Generation Family of Volunteers Award. Additional family members include:

  • Norman and Sally Johnson
  • Johnnie and Melinda Johnson
  • Jennie and Stewart Harbin
  • Will and Stephanie Johnson 

This award recognizes a family with at least three generations of active 4-H volunteers.

Marissa Staben, 4-H member in Cass County, is receiving the Outstanding Youth Volunteer Award. This award recognizes a 4-H member, ages 14-18, who has made a meaningful impact on their local 4-H community.

Eleven individuals are receiving Emerging Adult Volunteer Awards. These awards recognize current volunteers who have served less than three years in their local 4-H community. One individual is recognized for each Nebraska Extension Engagement Zone. Recipients include:

  • Briana Robertson, Box Butte County
  • Jacey Andersen, Thomas County
  • Blair Caraway, Dawson County
  • Tigh Renken, Gosper and Phelps County
  • Janelle Nielsen, Dakota County
  • Jennifer Wood, Nance County
  • Kerry Huntley, Washington County
  • Kearah Perreault, Lancaster County
  • Makinna Peterson, Thayer County 
  • Cailyn Winkelman, Nemaha County 

Eleven individuals are receiving Outstanding Adult Volunteer Awards. These awards recognize current volunteers who have served more than four years in their local 4-H community. One individual is recognized for each Nebraska Extension Engagement Zone. Recipients include:

  • Julie Schommer, Dawes County
  • Rhonda Cherry, Cherry County
  • Amanda Lott, Lincoln County
  • Pam Hamilton, Hitchcock County
  • Lisa Bousquet, Dakota County
  • Jeff Krivohlavek, Seward County 
  • Ann Gillentine, Saunders County
  • Marsha Prior, Lancaster County
  • Tom Person, Jefferson County
  • Dana Baltensperger, Nemaha County 

The Nebraska 4-H Volunteer Awards honor individuals who are making meaningful and lasting contributions to their local 4-H communities. 

“4-H Volunteers are truly integral for creating intentional and positive experiences for youth statewide. Their volunteer efforts enable youth to improve decision making skills, build leadership skills and help prepare youth to be ready for future careers. These volunteers generously give their time, energy, and creativity to help develop the next generation of leaders, and we are thrilled to be able to recognize their contributions," said Jill A. Goedeken, Nebraska 4-H Volunteer Extension Educator. 

Recipients will be celebrated during a recognition ceremony at the 2024 Nebraska State Fair.

For more information about the Nebraska 4-H Volunteer Awards, please visit 

Nebraska 4-H youth will participate in 2024 Omaha Fashion Week

Fri, 02/16/2024 - 14:59

Nebraska 4-H members from across the state will showcase their designs during Omaha Fashion Week runway showcase. Omaha Fashion Week is highlighting themes of reckless self-expression during their Spring 2024 AUDACIOUS Season. As they focus on fashion-for-good they are honoring the audacity it takes to use our voices to create meaningful change in our communities.

Amongst the seven groups that will be presenting their designs on the runway during student night, Nebraska 4-H youth will be modeling their designs on Wednesday, February 21, 2024, during the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Student Night at 8:00 pm.

Youth across the state were invited to apply with the design they have sewn for 4-H in 2023. Thirty-two 4-Her’s were chosen from 17 counties in Nebraska. They have been practicing their walk for the runway, will be getting their hair and makeup ready by the SOHO hair academy, and will have family and friends in attendance!

Participating youth are:

  • Emily Barfknecht – Adams County

  • Ayvrie Waldron – Box Butte County

  • Danica Romshek – Butler County

  • Macie Koch – Cedar County

  • Kate Cox – Cherry County

  • Morgan Schommer – Dawes County

  • Karla Herrarte – Dawson County

  • Maya Soria – Dawson County

  • Melissa Montano – Dawson County

  • Sydni Ringenberg – Dawson County

  • Ava Caldwell – Douglas-Sarpy County

  • Coralee Schurr – Frontier County

  • Amelia Dieckman – Gage County

  • Audrey Diekman – Gage County

  • Cora Novacek – Gage County

  • Alison Schimmer – Hall County

  • Carmin Gramke – Kearney County

  • Alexa Smith – Lancaster County 

  • Clara Johnson – Lancaster County

  • Dayton Jons – Lancaster County

  • Josie Johnson – Lancaster County

  • Lauren Johnson – Lancaster County

  • Piper Pillard – Lancaster County

  • Tenley Bauman – Lancaster County

  • Vanessa Peterson – Lancaster County

  • Josie Williams – Nance County

  • Delaney Cheloha – Platte County

  • Karis Kersting – Platte County

  • Maura Tichota – Saunders County

  • Abigail Nelson – Sheridan County

  • Emily Nelson – Sheridan County

  • Zayling Ott – Washington County

Doors open at 6:00 pm. To purchase tickets, visit

Nebraska 4-H invites youth to monthlong celebration

Fri, 02/02/2024 - 14:41

Every year, Nebraska 4-H Month brings thousands of young people, parents, volunteers, and alumni together to celebrate all the ways in which 4-H helps youth find a place where they belong. Across the state, Nebraska 4-H invites community members to celebrate:

  • 4-H Spirit Day - Tuesday, February 1, 2024
    • Wear green, the 4-H emblem, or your favorite 4-H T-shirt!
    • Share your 4-H spirit on social media using #NE4HMonth, #iBelong, and #Opportunity4All
  • 4-H Volunteer Appreciation Day - Thursday, February 8, 2024
    • Send handwritten thank-you notes or make and deliver 4-H-themed treats or goody bags to your club and project leaders.
    • Shout out your club and project leaders on social media using #NE4HMonth.
    • Nominate your favorite 4-H volunteer for a Nebraska 4-H Volunteer Recognition Award.
  • 4-H Supporter Appreciation Day - Thursday, February 15, 2024
    • Ask your local Extension office for the contact information for a 4-H donor and sponsor. Send them a handwritten thank-you note.
  • 4-H Give Back to Your Community/Service Day - February 22, 2024
    • Coordinate your own community service project, such as picking up trash, holding a food drive, collecting items for a local shelter, or making care packages. For more inspiration, check out these 4-H civic engagement ideas. After the project is complete, be sure to submit your community service project for a chance to see it showcased by Nebraska 4-H.  
    • Contribute to other groups' community service projects.
    • Volunteer your time with a local non-profit organization.
  • Leap Into 4-H Day - Thursday, February 29, 2024
    • Enroll in 4-H for 2024! Youth are invited to join 4-H and complete the annual enrollment process during February. By becoming enrolled members, youth have the opportunity to join a club, exhibit projects at the county and State Fair, participate in contests, and apply for special awards and recognition. Enroll now at

Nebraska 4-H Month Photography Contest

Capture moments and showcase your creativity. Submit your photos weekly based on exciting themes. Open to all enrolled 4-H members. Explore your passion for photography and make memories that last a lifetime! 

  • Learn More & Submit Your Photos.

Many local celebrations and events will also be hosted throughout the month of February. Contact your local Extension office for more information about local celebrations. 

Nebraska 4-H'ers participated in the 102nd National 4-H Congress

Fri, 12/08/2023 - 15:47

Thirteen Nebraska 4-H members traveled to the 102nd National 4-H Congress in Atlanta, GA, held November 24-28, 2023. This year’s conference theme — “Unforgettable Past, Innovative Future” — focused on leadership, citizenship, global awareness, and inclusion.

National 4-H Congress is the premier leadership event for 4-H members between the ages of 15 and 19 years of age. Nebraska delegates are selected for the trip to National 4-H Congress by submitting an Achievement Application for state competition.

Nebraska 4-H members joined youth from across the nation which brought together over 800 young people from across the country. Youth participated in service-learning projects, international education, and a variety of workshops to expand their skills while being inspired to make an impact on their club, community, and country.

"My favorite part was the community service that we did -- there were a bunch of community service projects that everyone at the conference did," shared Kaylee Powell, a 4-H participant in Hall County. "I was able to go with a bunch of other 4-H'ers, and also another Nebraska 4-H'er, and we went into a local elementary school and taught 4th grade math. So that was cool to bring skills that we had, here from Nebraska, and take it to students there."

The group, made up of high school students and a few college freshmen, attended numerous educational workshops, cultural events, and completed service-learning projects while in Atlanta. Attendees heard nationally known speakers, including Amberly Snyder, motivational speaker and barrel racer; Dan Clark, New York Times Best Selling Author; Chris Boleman, CEO & President of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo; and Dr. Dionne Toombs, Associate Director for Programs of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture; among others.

"At 4-H Congress, I learned a lot about community and leadership skills. We did a lot of workshops together -- a lot of team building and practicing communication skills," said Austin Kamm, a 4-H participant in Cuming County.

Highlights of the five-day trip included a tour of Atlanta, visits to the Atlanta History Center, Martin Luther King, Jr. Visitor Center, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta Zoo, World of Coke, the College Football Hall of Fame, and other attractions. Youth were accompanied by Nebraska 4-H Extension Educator, Dawn Lindsley, and Martin Wiese, a 4-H volunteer from Dodge County.

For more information National 4-H Congress, please visit

Nebraska 4-H members claim top awards at national livestock contests

Thu, 11/16/2023 - 15:34

Twelve Nebraska 4-H members traveled to the 2023 North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Kentucky, to participate in national 4-H livestock competitions. In addition to the memories of a once-in-a-lift experience, youth brought home top awards. 

Livestock Judging

Nebraka's livestock judging team included Jaylea Pope from Revenna, Breanna Bosshamer from Amherst and Hannah Herrick from Amherst. The team earned ninth place in hogs, 10th place in sheep, and 10th place in goats. Jaylea Pope earned first place overall, first place in reasons, first place in sheep, first place in goats, second place in hogs, and 10th place in cattle.

The team was coached by Lauren Miller. 

Livestock Skillathon

Nebraska's Livestock Skillathon team members included Bart Beattie from Sumner, Jacie Wolfinger from Lexington, Jaelin Wolfinger from Lexington, Parker Walahoski from Overton, and Spencer Walahoski from Overton. The team earned fourth place. Spencer Walahoski earned eighth place overall individual. Jacie Wolfinger earned 13th place overall individual.

The team was coached by Taryn Vonderschmidt. 

Livestock Quiz Bowl

Nebraska's Livestock Quiz Bowl team included Gracie Wagoner from Shelton, Justine Pope from Revenna, Mason Janda from Revenna, and Skyler Summers from Gibbon. Mason Janda earned ninth place overall individual. 

The team was coached by Jeanne Pope. 

Nebraska 4-H members earn opportunities to compete in national 4-H livestock contests through the Nebraska 4-H Premier Animal Science Event held in June each year. To learn more, visit 

STEM CARES re-invigorates rural communities through youth development

Mon, 11/13/2023 - 10:37

With the goal of re-invigorating rural communities following the pandemic, STEM CARES addressed the needs of communities across the state, provided paid jobs and professional development for teens, and delivered high-quality learning experiences to children. STEM CARES engaged young people across 21 counites through after-school programs, day care centers, summer school programs, 4-H clubs, and libraries. The program was provided at no cost to parents or program providers through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic (CARES) Act funding.

STEM CARES implemented a multitiered model of education that engaged young people of all ages as learners, instructors, and leaders.

In seven seasons of programming, STEM CARES engaged nearly 1,500 children in high-quality, hands-on science, technology, engineering and math experiences. 92% of children said they learned new things about science, and 81% said they learned new things about engineering. STEM CARES offered four curriculum options consisting of six lessons each. Curriculum options included Garden Engineering, The Power of the Wind, Mechanical Engineering, and Slime Engineers. The program providers selected the curriculum topic based on their community's needs.

Teens, hired as instructors, facilitated all the programming. Before engaging with learners, teens participated in approximately six hours of training to grow their skills working with elementary students in informal settings. Teens developed a greater sense of community and explored potential careers. They gained real-world experience in child development, child care, or STEM-related careers, and many expressed an interest in teaching or working with youth as a significant part of their future career goals.

“Having this teaching experience and time working with youth were very beneficial to me as I am pursuing a degree to be an art teacher,” shared a program instructor from Hamilton County.

University of Nebraska–Lincoln undergraduate students served as mentors to the teen facilitators. As instructional leaders, the college students provided ongoing support, guidance, and reflection opportunities for the teens. Instructional leaders also participated in training and received continued support from Nebraska Extension 4-H Youth Development faculty. The undergraduate students developed their skills around facilitation, STEM-related content, and communications.

"My instructional leaders were very helpful in many ways, but I think the most helpful thing they provided for my learning was the way they taught," shared one teen instructor. "They made sure we understood the lessons they were teaching us, and if we didn't, they would explain it in a way that could help us understand it."

STEM CARES was developed by Nebraska 4-H in collaboration with Beyond School Bells. For more information, visit

4-H Volunteer Road Show: Helping youth thrive through leader development

Thu, 11/09/2023 - 06:15

Outside the York County Fairgrounds 4-H Building stands a historical marker titled “Nebraska 4-H Clubs Began in York County.” Tuesday evening, 15 4-H volunteer club and project leaders walked past this marker. They gathered, not for a 4-H Club meeting but rather for the Nebraska 4-H Volunteer Road Show.

The evening started with a session titled “The Magic of 4-H.” It introduced volunteers to the “4-H Thriving Model.” It laid the groundwork for the following sessions. Tanya Crawford, Nebraska Extension educator, explained how 4-H helps youth thrive by providing a place for them to belong, matter and explore their personal spark.

Igniting sparks through 4-H projects

To help youth discover their spark, volunteers were introduced to various entry-level projects and bite-sized activities that can lead to fair exhibits.

During the environmental education session, Molly Brandt, Nebraska Extension educator, led volunteers in making molds of animal tracks. Volunteers saw firsthand how this activity could be conducted in a club setting. Brandt also shared ideas for forestry projects, including club projects, community service activities and fair exhibits.

Many young people come to 4-H to explore a spark for animals. The poultry and rabbit projects were showcased as ideal entry-level animal projects. Brandt shared how she found her spark through the 4-H rabbit project. Her passion for rabbits came through as she covered basic care, breeds and fair classes.

“Chickens are great for kids,” Rachelle Staehr, York FFA adviser, said. She explained that bantams and docile breeds, like Cochin, are easy to handle. With a bantam Cochin hen in hand, Staehr gave a poultry showmanship demonstration. She shared tips for preparing, handling and presenting poultry during showmanship.

Many young people find their spark through creativity. Jill Goedeken, Nebraska Extension educator, led volunteers in an activity they can use to teach kids about color schemes. Goedeken described how this activity can be used in visual arts, home environment and consumer management projects.

Fostering belonging through club projects

Club projects bring youth together and foster a sense of belonging. Throughout the evening, Goedeken reminded volunteers of the opportunities for club or group projects. During the final session, volunteers learned how to guide clubs in selecting those projects. They practiced using basic parliamentary procedures in the “Let’s Make Trail Mix” activity.

Strengthening local support networks

The face-to-face and interactive nature of the event fostered an engaging environment. The room was often filled with laughter, conversational chatter, idea sharing, and informal discussions throughout the evening. During the parliamentary procedure activity, the room erupted in laughter when a motion was made to add an entire bag of M&M’s.

The event strengthened relationships between volunteers and Nebraska Extension staff. Some local staff even attended as participants. Volunteers represented nearly every experience level and background. One individual was in their second year of volunteering, and another had 60+ years of experience.

The Nebraska 4-H Volunteer Road Show is a training and development opportunity offered each fall at various locations across the state. To learn more, visit

Nebraska 4-H: 5 underrated, practical projects

Wed, 11/08/2023 - 14:41

We all know about the 4-H livestock, cooking and sewing projects. But with nearly 50 projects to choose from, there are likely some you aren’t familiar with. These five often-overlooked projects offer real-world skills and unique experiences.

1. Special plant science projects

The Special Garden Project and Special Agronomy Project offer unique introductions to plant science. Members are given seeds and guided through growing and harvesting. If all goes well, members can exhibit a cut flower or harvested vegetable. Otherwise, they can share their experience through a poster, story or video. Even with all these options, there were only 38 exhibits at the 2023 Nebraska State Fair.

2. Financial (consumer education) projects

Financial projects may sound boring, but they can pay dividends. Young people learn money management by creating income inventories, tracking expenses or completing money personality profiles. For all their value, only 38 financial exhibits were entered at this year’s State Fair.

3. Safety projects

With 53 exhibits at the State Fair, the safety project can be easily overlooked. The practical benefits are not. Fair exhibits include items every family should have, like first aid kits, disaster kits, and home fire safety plans.

4. Citizenship projects

Citizenship projects help youth become well-informed citizens and active community members. Fair exhibits allow members to document a community service activity, make a care package or donate a Quilt of Valor to a veteran. Despite their meaningful impact, there were 83 citizenship State Fair entries this year.

5. Veterinary science projects

Veterinary science projects are great for those who love animals, whether they own one or not! Despite this, there were less than 100 entries at this year’s State Fair. Members are challenged to research an animal care, health or safety issue. Fair exhibits allow youth to present their learning through a poster, notebook or display.

While they tend to see low participation numbers, these projects offer practical benefits and unique opportunities. They might just spark a lifelong passion!

Nebraska 4-H members’ artwork on display in UNL Loft Gallery

Mon, 11/06/2023 - 15:48

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln Loft Gallery is featuring 4-H’ers artwork selected from over 600 entries at the Nebraska State Fair.

The 4-H visual art projects included in the show were completed this year but demonstrate mastery developed over many years in the project. The works were selected based on creativity, originality, and attention to detail. The show features a variety of mediums and techniques.

Young people with artwork in the exhibition include:

  • Rylee Ward, 14
    Valentine, Cherry County 4-H
  • Hayden Minchow, 14
    Seward, Seward County 4-H
  • Taylor Honeyman, 14
    Omaha, Douglas County 4-H
  • Sofia Schoeneck, 15
    Cedar Bluffs, Saunders County 4-H
  • Isabelle Soden, 13
    Ceresco, Saunders County 4-H
  • Emily Greenquist, 15
    Hastings, Adams County 4-H
  • Faith Rasmussen, 18
    O’Neill, Holt County 4-H
  • Piper Dather, 17
    Bloomfield, Knox County 4-H
  • Mandy Sandoval, 17
    Wayneta, Chase County 4-H
  • Mya Zohner, 17
    Battle Creek, Madison County 4-H
  • Brooklyn Hightree, 14
    South Sioux City, Burt County 4-H
  • Caydence Schumacher, 15
    Clearwater, Antelope County 4-H

The exhibit is in the Loft Gallery through December 2023. The Loft Gallery is located on the third floor of the East Campus Union. It is open to the public from 6:45 a.m. to midnight Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to midnight Saturdays, and 9 a.m. to midnight Sundays.

The purpose of the 4-H visual arts project is to help youth develop life skills like critical and creative thinking, confident communication, decision-making, problem-solving and goal setting. 4-H is America’s largest youth development organization–empowering nearly six million young people nationwide and 140,000 across Nebraska with the skills to lead for a lifetime. Learn more at

Nebraska 4-H adjusts age eligibility

Thu, 11/02/2023 - 13:49

In 2023, Nebraska 4-H lowered the age limit for participation in the Nebraska State Fair for all in-person events to nine years of age.  That change increased participation and provided more opportunities for youth to engage in learning experiences. 

Based on feedback and program objectives, the age of eligibility in 2024 will be eight years as of Jan. 1 of the current year for all in-person State Fair events as well as the Fonner Park State 4-H Horse Expo, Premier Animal Science Event and Premier Communications Event.  

Note: Some events will maintain different age eligibility requirements due to program-specific rules, such as shooting sports and FIRST robotics events. Always consult specific event information for age-eligibility requirements. 

Nebraska 4-H adjusts project selection requirements

Wed, 11/01/2023 - 10:47

Starting in 2024, youth will be encouraged but not required to select projects during enrollment. Youth must still complete enrollment by June 15 to participate in their county fair or the Nebraska State Fair. Youth who complete enrollment will be eligible to exhibit in any project. Members are only eligible to exhibit in one county per project. 

Note: Horse and shooting sports projects will continue to require enrollment due to parental consent requirements. 

Nebraska 4-H launches new volunteer orientation

Mon, 10/16/2023 - 10:46

Nebraska 4-H has launched a new volunteer orientation. This online training serves as an introduction to the 4-H Youth Development program in Nebraska. As part of the screening process, the orientation covers various foundational and essential topics, including volunteer roles, 4-H operations, and risk management. 

Any interested individuals including current and prospective volunteers, are welcome to complete the online orientation. However, all new volunteers working directly with youth, such as club leaders, project leaders, or workshop presenters, must complete the orientation. All volunteers will also be required to complete the training on a regular basis as part of the re-screening process. 

The course includes six modules each with a video and knowledge check questions. The entire orientation takes approximately 45 minutes to complete and may be completed over multiple sessions. Upon successful completion, volunteers will receive a confirmation email and their county Extension office will be notified.

To learn more or complete the volunteer orientation, visit

UNL Visitors Center showcases 4-H’ers’ creativity through the lens

Thu, 09/14/2023 - 14:39

The Nebraska East Campus Visitors Center is featuring a new collection of photography captured by 4-H members from across the state.

  • • Hunter Maly, 11, Neligh, Antelope County 4-H
  • Miranda Bracht, 18, West Point, Burt County 4-H
  • Isabelle Reichman, 15, Chappell, Deuel County 4-H
  • Ashley Easterday, 16, Eustis, Frontier County 4-H
  • Ludick Botha, 12, Oxford, Furnas County 4-H
  • Caleb Oltman, 16, Beatrice, Gage County 4-H
  • Kash Hanneman, 12, Aurora, Hamilton County 4-H
  • Brody Medina, 15, Cheyenne, Kimball-Banner County 4-H
  • Khloe Stutzman, 13, North Platte, Lincoln County 4-H
  • Tessa Hansen, 16, Stapleton, Logan County 4-H
  • Matthew Alderson, 16, Osmond, Pierce County 4-H
  • Harper Scott, 9, Gordon, Sheridan County 4-H
  • Tinsley Neidhardt, 12, Albion, Boone County 4-H
  • Ayvrie Waldron, 15, Alliance, Box Butte County 4-H
  • Kristin Holcomb, 15, Arapahoe, Furnas County 4-H
  • Rylan Dietz, 13, Hampton, Hamilton County 4-H
  • Logan Deike, 13, Omaha, Jefferson County 4-H
  • Sydney Kruse, 12, Lincoln, Lancaster County 4-H
  • Elizabeth Hilkemann, 10, Firth, Lancaster County 4-H
  • Morgan Gabel, 14, Lincoln, Lancaster County 4-H
  • Jayden Adams, 15, Brock, Nemaha County 4-H
  • Karis Kersting, 10, Creston, Platte County 4-H
  • Elizabeth Soden, 11, Ceresco, Saunders County 4-H
  • Sophie Hansen, 9, Arlington, Washington County 4-H

“This exhibition showcases the talent and creativity of Nebraska youth,” said Liz Hamm, 4-H photography superintendent at the Nebraska State Fair. The photographs in the exhibition were selected from hundreds of entries at the 2023 Nebraska State Fair. The chosen photos demonstrate various aspects of creativity and mastery of the medium, including solid technical execution, bold composition, and vivid color.

The purpose of the 4-H photography project is to help young people establish basic to advanced knowledge of and abilities in using photographic equipment, lighting, and composition to capture images, express feelings, and communicate ideas. Participants work through three project levels, progressing from basic to advanced photography skills and techniques.

The exhibition is on display through August 2024. The East Campus Visitors Center, located at Holdrege Street and Dairy Store Drive, is open to the public from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Nebraska 4-H Fed Steer Challenge: enhancing the educational value of beef projects

Wed, 09/13/2023 - 16:19

Nebraska 4-H, in collaboration with the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Department of Animal Science, offered the sixth year of the Nebraska 4-H Fed Steer Challenge in 2023.

The Fed Steer Challenge cultivates the next generation of leaders in the Nebraska cattle industry by providing youth opportunities. This challenge enhances the educational value of traditional 4-H beef projects and provides affordable options to reward production merit and market animal carcass value; accurate and complete record-keeping practices; industry and research knowledge; and producer engagement with the 4-H member.

The youth selected, purchased, exhibited, harvested, and analyzed carcass data on a steer while networking with industry professionals. Additionally, working as a learning cohort, they participated in monthly educational opportunities led by industry professionals and Animal Science faculty. Alongside these youth, large crowds at the Nebraska State Fair receive instruction from a commercial cattle buyer about sorting and evaluating steers.

The 2023 Nebraska participants included:

  • Lilee Chevalier, 17, Bennet, Lancaster County 4-H
  • Leah Christen, 17, Steinauer, Pawnee County 4-H
  • Rachel Hale, 16, Fullerton, Nance County 4-H
  • Joseph Fickenscher 18, Axtell, Kearney County 4-H
  • Eldon Haack, 15, Upland, Franklin County 4-H
  • Demi Lapaseotes, 16, Bridgeport, Morrill County 4-H
  • Nickolas Rohr, 17, Eustis, Frontier County 4-H
  • Logan Schmidt, 14, Deshler, Nuckolls/Thayer 4-H
  • Karina Smydra, 14, Saint Paul, Howard County 4-H
  • Karli Wagner, 17, Arthur, Arthur County 4-H

Top placings in the live animal portion:

  1. Logan Schmidt

Top placings in the growth performance portion:

  1. Karli Wagner
  2. Logan Schmidt
  3. Eldon Haack

Top placings in the carcass merit portion:

  1. Joseph Fickenscher
  2. Logan Schmidt
  3. Karli Wagner

Top placings in the record book portion:

  1. Nickolas Rohr
  2. Karina Smydra
  3. Leah Christen

Top placings in the industry interview portion:

  1. Leah Christen
  2. Karli Wagner
  3. Nickolas Rohr

Overall award winners:

  1. Karli Wagner
  2. Leah Christen
  3. Nickolas Rohr
  4. Logan Schmidt
  5. Karina Smydra

The winners of each award category receive cash prizes and the overall winners each will win a cash award sponsored by CoBank through the Nebraska 4-H Foundation, as well as a $500 scholarship to Nebraska’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. To learn more about the fed steer challenge, visit

Youth earn Member of Excellence distinctions at Nebraska State Fair

Wed, 09/06/2023 - 12:34

Nebraska 4-H awarded sixty-one youth with the Members of Excellence distinction at the 2023 Nebraska State Fair. 4-H members earned the award for engaging in livestock-related learning experiences throughout the year in addition to caring for and exhibiting their 4-H livestock projects. Nebraska 4-H recognized Members of Excellence across all 4-H livestock project areas.

4-H members recognized as Members of Excellence in the beef project area included:

  • Bo Prospichal, Holt County
  • Trapper Wilcox, Antelope Couny
  • Ella Miller, Cass County
  • Grant Miller, Cass County
  • Calley Stewart, Cedar County
  • Brayden Griess, Clay County
  • Katelyn Griess, Clay County
  • Dayton Pohlmann, Gage County
  • Jolie Kreifels, Saline County
  • Titus Hemje, Saline County
  • Tatus Wright, Sarpy County
  • Violet Nuss, Sarpy County
  • Trevor Lindquist Sarpy County
  • Mattielyn Brown, Scotts Bluff County
  • Emma Hackbart, Seward County
  • Mckinley Stoller, Hayes County
  • Troy Lindquist, Sarpy County
  • Olivia Beel, Brown County
  • Ava Stewart, Cedar County
  • Nathan Griess, Clay County
  • Kyle Rote, Garden County
  • AJ Prospichal, Holt County
  • Lilee Chevalier, Lancaster County
  • Justus Kreifels, Otoe County
  • Tristan Wright, Sarpy County
  • Addison Rist, Sarpy County

4-H members recognized as Members of Excellence in the dairy goat project area included:

  • Grace Chevalier, Lancaster County
  • Hannah Chevalier, Lancaster County
  • Lilee Chevalier, Lancaster County
  • Madalyn Chevalier, Lancaster County

4-H members recognized as Members of Excellence in the meat goat project area included:

  • Grant Meister, Sarpy County
  • Jackson Luethje, Douglas County
  • Kate Wagner, Sarpy County
  • Drew Luethje, Douglas County
  • Arabella Rolfsmeyer, Buffalo County
  • Graham Mueller, Dodge County

4-H members recognized as Members of Excellence in the poultry project area included:

  • Elsa Castillo, Douglas County
  • Marcus Schultz, Madison County
  • Franklin Polacek, Madison County
  • Hadley Bakan, Otoe County
  • Mallory Beethe, Sarpy County
  • Janae Oberg, Frontier County
  • Anne Nygren, Saunders County

4-H members recognized as Members of Excellence in the rabbit project area included:

  • Jocelyn Schmoll, Lancaster County
  • Tenley Bauman, Lancaster County
  • Marcus, Madison County
  • Violet Nuss, Sarpy County
  • Andrew Frain, Lancaster County

4-H members recognized as Members of Excellence in the sheep project area included:

  • Arabella Rolfsmeyer, Buffalo County
  • Ella Crumbliss, Clay County
  • Wyatt Cook, Kimball County
  • Lena Gropp, Saline County
  • Cora Maggie Roth, Boyd County
  • Marshall Humphrey, Clay County
  • Kaelyn Littrell, Clay County
  • Eboney Tripe, Clay County

4-H members recognized as Members of Excellence in the swine project area included:

  • Trey Cook, Kimball County
  • Allie Cook, Kimball County
  • Kirsten Knake, Otoe County
  • Lilee Chevalier, Lancaster County
  • Kaden Knake, Otoe County

Youth received the Member of Excellence distinction through the Livestock Achievement Program, which launched in 2021. Youth applied to participate in the program at the beginning of the year. Accepted participants set goals for their 4-H project experience and reported on their accomplishments. Participants were also required to complete quality assurance requirements and project record books. To learn more about the Livestock Achievement Program, visit

Youth experience swine production

Wed, 09/06/2023 - 08:32

The Nebraska 4-H Farrowed and Owned Swine Cohort is designed to enhance the traditional 4-H swine project and cultivate the next generation of leaders in the swine industry by providing opportunities focusing on swine production as a goal of the 4-H member's project, along with accurate and complete record-keeping, industry knowledge, and engagement by the 4-H member. In order to participate, youth must be 4-H age 9-18, complete YQCA, and farrowed their project animals.

Youth involved in the cohort, participated in learning opportunities hosted by Extension Swine Specialist Benny Mote about nutrition, feeding, genetics, and more. They also maintained records related to swine management and basic care, which resulted in turning in a record book this weekend. Finally, they exhibited their Farrowed and Owned project animals at the 2023 Nebraska State Fair with the opportunity for special recognition for participating in the cohort.

The 2023 Nebraska 4-H Farrowed and Owned division at the Nebraska State Fair was sponsored by Parks of Nebraska LLC.

The following youth met the requirements of participating in 75% of the educational meetings from February - June and participating in the interview portion of the cohort at the 2023 Nebraska State Fair.

  • Olivia Beel, Brown County
  • Kade Goedeken, Platte County
  • Kambryn Vaughn, Phelps County
  • Keely Vaughn, Phelps County
  • Kyper Vaughn, Phelps County
  • Cullan Schmidt, Fillmore County
  • Alli Ritter, Cuming County
  • Eli Ritter, Cuming County
  • Trevin Steuk, Saline County

Results from the live show:

  • Grand Champion Farrowed and Owned Breeding Gilt: Cullan Schmidt, Fillmore County
  • Reserve Champion Farrowed and Owned Breeding Gilt: Trevin Steuk, Saline County
  • Grand Champion Farrowed and Owned Market Hog: Kade Goedeken, Platte County
  • Reserve Champion Farrowed and Owned Market Hog: Eli Ritter, Cuming County

Cohort members learned the importance of accurate record keeping through a detailed record book they compiled with information about their farrowed and owned projects. The record books are used during an interview each cohort member participates in at the state fair. The interview is an important part of the cohort experience, as members gain valuable life skills from this experience.

Results from the interview portion of the cohort:

  • 1st Place: Olivia Beel, Brown County
  • 2nd Place: Keely Vaughn, Phelps County
  • 3rd Place: Kade Goedeken, Platte County

Congratulations to all 2023 Nebraska 4-H Farrowed and Owned Cohort members!

For more information about the Nebraska 4-H Farrowed and Owned Cohort learning opportunity, please visit

Nebraska teens emerge as change agents following Citizenship Washington Focus

Tue, 07/25/2023 - 08:56

One hundred teens across Nebraska recently embarked on a once-in-a-lifetime civic engagement experience through the Citizenship Washington Focus (CWF) program. Youth spent five days in Washington, D.C., learning our nation’s history and developing the civic engagement skills they need to be leaders in their communities.

CWF is the premier leadership and civic engagement event for Nebraska 4-H members and teen leaders. During their time in Washington, D.C., the high school students toured the White House and Arlington National Cemetery. They explored national monuments and memorials, including Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Jr., World War I, and US Marine Corps Memorials. During a day on Capitol Hill, the Nebraska delegation attended the Nebraska Breakfast and connected with state senators and representatives. Youth engaged in workshops on media literacy, local government, advocacy, active listening, and civil discourse.

Using the nation’s capital as their classroom, the young leaders gained the skills and experiences to become effective change agents. Teens used what they learned to refine action plans to improve their local communities back home.

The Nebraska delegation left home on June 5, participated in the CWF program in Washington, D.C., from June 11-16, and returned to Nebraska on June 18. A group of 14 teens and four chaperones from Cherry County joined 14 youth and two chaperones from Johnson, Nemaha, Otoe, and Richardson Counties. A group from West Nebraska consisted of 72 youth and eight chaperones from the following counties:

  • Arthur
  • Buffalo
  • Custer
  • Dundy
  • Franklin
  • Gosper
  • Hayes
  • Hitchcock
  • Kearney
  • Keith
  • Lincoln
  • Phelps
  • Red Willow

"Being a part of this conference helped me realize that being a good citizen isn't necessarily just sitting around, waiting for change,” said one participant. “You have to go out and let it be known that change is necessary; otherwise, it won't happen."

“Youth spent time during the conference working on their own local action plans that they will hopefully implement in their communities,” said Molly Brandt, Nebraska Extension Educator who accompanied this year's group. “Youth started brainstorming on these ideas before the conference and were able to get more ideas and suggestions from others during the conference.”

Brandt believes one of the most valuable benefits of CWF is the opportunity for youth to interact with peers from their community and other young adults from across the country. “Youth learn the importance of being a good citizen and having respectful conversations with those who might think differently than they do,” said Brandt.

"It engaged me firsthand with people different from me or who had different views,” said one participant. “Learning how to effectively communicate with everyone is an invaluable skill needed in various parts of my life.”

“The conference gave the youth a newfound sense of energy, confidence, and purpose to be able to make local change,” said Brandt.

Coordinated by National 4-H Council, CWF is a national program designed as the premier leadership and civic engagement event for 4-H members and teen leaders ages 14-19. Weeklong sessions are offered through June and July each summer. Trips are coordinated regionally by local Extension Offices. For more information about CWF, please visit

4-H members speak up at new Premier Communication Event

Tue, 06/27/2023 - 12:28

4-H members from across Nebraska converged in Lincoln for the inaugural Premier Communication Event. The youth had the opportunity to participate in state-level contests, including Illustrated Presentations, Prepared Speeches, Impromptu Speeches, Radio Public Service Announcements, and Video Communications. 

44 presenters participated in the Illustrated Presentations Contest, and the top seniors were:

  1. Ava Stewart, Cedar County
  2. Aubree Siffring, Butler County
  3. Emily Brehl, Clay County
  4. Libby Macklin, Webster County
  5. Tucker Robinson, Fillmore County

Intermediate division winners were:

  1. Mallory Beethe, Sarpy County
  2. Andrea Bettenhausen, Lancaster County
  3. Maggie White, Gage County
  4. Ella Jessen, Knox County
  5. Devon Rasmussen, Gage County

92 young people participated in the Prepared Speech Contest. The top five presenters in the senior division included:

  1. Hope Roscoe, Burt County
  2. Lilee Chevalier, Lancaster County
  3. Sophia Burns, Dawson County
  4. Ella Brennemann, Frontier County
  5. Grace Brennemann, Frontier County

Top presenters in the intermediate division included:

  1. Lena Gropp, Saline County
  2. Brooklyn Reiman, Dawson County
  3. Lorelai Rickertsen, Dawson County
  4. Luke Olsen, Kimball County
  5. Griffin Owens, Dawson County

35 members participated in the Impromptu Speech Contest. The top five in the senior division were: 

  1. Kara Brockman, Gosper County
  2. Grace Brenneman, Frontier County
  3. Lilee Chevalier, Lancaster County
  4. Adrian Svitak, Hall County
  5. Kathryn Vance, Scotts Bluff County

The top five intermediate division winners included:

  1. Nathan Brhel, Clay County
  2. Grace Finnegan, Boyd County
  3. Mallory Beethe, Sarpy County
  4. Amarita Payne, Lancaster County
  5. Ayla Foster, Box Butte County

76 Radio Public Service Announcements were submitted to the state contest. Those in the senior division recognized with top awards included:

  1. Campbell Snodgrass, Cuming County
  2. Alex Berghorst, Custer County
  3. Alexa Brodd, Dodge County
  4. Marshall Bratetic, Knox County
  5. Jonah Splichal, Scotts Bluff County

Award winners in the intermediate division were:

  1. Owens Griffin, Dawson County
  2. McKenna Stewart, Polk County
  3. Harley Hedrick, York County
  4. Cassidy Reiman, Dawson County
  5. Alexa Stewart, Polk County

Nine entries were submitted for the Video Communications Contest. Senior division winners included: 

  1. Josiah Pitterson, Dodge County
  2. Emily Brhel, Clay County
  3. Ariana Pitterson, Dodge County
  4. Ashley Bauer, Buffalo County
  5. Jordan Wagner, Scotts Bluff County

Intermediate division winners included:

  1. Nathan Brhel, Clay County
  2. Kirstyn Beberniss, Garden County
  3. Mallory Beethe, Sarpy County

While new in 2023, the Premier Communication Event is intended to be an annual event held each June at the Univerisity of Nebraska–Lincoln. Participants showcase their communication skills and knowledge developed through other 4-H projects, explore issues related to the communication industry, discover college and career opportunities, and meet other 4-H youth from across the state. To learn more, visit

Nebraska 4-H members earn entry into national animal science contests

Tue, 06/27/2023 - 11:26

4-H members from across Nebraska convened in Lincoln on June 21 and 22 to take part in the annual Premier Animal Science Event. Youth competed as individuals and teams in state-level 4-H contests, including Poultry Judging, Meats Judging, Livestock Skillathon, Livestock Quiz Bowl, and Livestock Judging contests. 

64 youths participated in the Poultry Judging Contest. Gold medals were awarded to:

  • Team: Saunders County - Anne Nygren, Hannah Strizek, Joseph Ondracek, and Tony Ondracek
  • Intermediate Individual: Rachel Spawn, Platte County
  • Senior Individual: Noah Jelinek, Lancaster County

68 young people participated in the Meats Judging Contest. Top awards winners included:

  • Team: Dawson County - Parker Walahoski, Barton Beattie, and Preston Beattie
  • Intermediate Individual: Paige Walahoski, Dawson County
  • Senior Individual: Parker Walahoski, Dawson County

27 teams competed in the Livestock Skillathon Contest. Gold medals were awarded to:

  • Senior Team: Dawson County - Bart Beattie, Jacie Wolfinger, Jaelin Wolfinger, Parker Walahoski, and Spencer Walahoski
  • Intermediate Team: Buffalo County - Graden Forbes, Arabella Rolfsmeye, Kaitlyn Meints, and Laurynn Andrews

13 teams competed in Livestock Quiz Bowl, with top awards going to:

  • Senior Team: Buffalo County - Gracie Wagoner, Justine Pope, Mason Janda, and Skyler Summers
  • Intermediate Team: Boone/Nance County - Kahnen Pelster, Katernia Maricle, Dorothy Smith, and Emilyn Kurz

190 4-H members participated in the Livestock Judging Contest. Gold medal award winners included:

  • Senior Team: Buffalo County - Justine Pope, Jaylea Pope, and Mason Janda
  • Senior Individual: Justine Pope, Buffalo County
  • Intermediate Team: Lincoln County - Allyson Kemp, Cauy Robinson, and Arian Gilmore
  • Intermediate Individual: Allyson Kemp, Lincoln County

The highest-ranking eligible poultry judging, meats judging, quiz bowl, and skillathon teams now have the opportunity to participate in the National 4-H Contests. The top three senior livestock judging teams can participate in one of three national competitions, including the National 4-H Livestock Judging Contest, the American Royal 4-H Livestock Judging Contest, or the National Western Roundup. 

The Premier Animal Science Event, also known as PASE, is a two-day event held each June at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Participants explore issues related to the animal industry, discover college and career opportunities, and test their livestock skills and knowledge. To learn more, visit

Nebraska 4-H welcomes hundreds to the 4-H Shooting Sports National Championships

Wed, 06/14/2023 - 11:45

Approximately 729 youth from 42 states will convene in Grand Island from June 25-30 for the 2023 4-H Shooting Sports National Championships. The event will feature competitions across nine shooting sports disciplines, including compound archery, recurve archery, air rifle, air pistol, .22 rifle, .22 pistol, shotgun, muzzleloading, and hunting skills. 

Fourteen Nebraska 4-H members are set to compete at this year's event. The shotgun team is coached by Larry Kotrous and includes:

  • Hunter Isabell, Lancaster County
  • Blake Byerly, Knox County
  • Caden Ost, York County
  • Jacob Smith, Knox County

The .22 rifle team, coached by Jennifer Thomsen, includes:

  • Aubrie Birkel, Custer County
  • Sara Thomsen, Pierce County
  • Matthew Koehlmoos, Holt County
  • Riata Remund, Custer County

The compound archery team is coached by Matt Carmin and includes:

  • Ashton Koch, Pierce County
  • Dylan Naslund, Cherry County
  • Riley Peterson, Lancaster County

The hunting skills team, coached by Ross Rote, includes:

  • Korryn Beberniss, Garden County
  • Kyle Rote, Garden County
  • Parker Walahoski, Dawson County

The 4-H shooting sports program focuses on the total development of its members. The activities are utilized as a vehicle for human growth and development. With support from caring adult leaders, youth develop life skills, self-worth, and conservation ethics in addition to shooting sports skills and knowledge, such as marksmanship, the safe and responsible use of firearms, and the principles of hunting and archery.

The 2023 4-H Shooting Sports National Championships is coordinated and hosted by Nebraska 4-H and the National 4-H Shooting Sports Committee. For more information, visit