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For years, Illinois high school students and teachers have expressed challenges in being accepted by respective schools to participate in the Illinois State Fair held in mid-August and the DuQuoin State Fair held in early-September. As the first day of school continues to move earlier into August for many schools, it makes it even more difficult for young people to exhibit 4-H and FFA projects they have worked hard on all year long. Proposed legislation in Illinois could soon require any missed school days because of FFA or 4-H related activities become excused.  

“Many young people are frustrated with their inability to show and exhibit 4-H and FFA projects because of how those opportunities are being received at their local schools,” explains Jesse Faber, an ag teacher at Pontiac Township High School and chairman of the Illinois Agricultural Education Legislative Committee. “We know this is a town-by-town issue and a variety of schools across the state have been supportive. However, we want to support all young people in their ability to exhibit projects they pour so much into within the educational setting of 4-H and FFA.”


That’s why Liz Hayden, a freshman at Lincoln Land Community College and a former Section 12 Illinois FFA president, recently voiced her opinion on Senate Bill 2132. During a testimony in front of an Illinois Senate committee, she shared how important this bill is for the future of the agriculture and education industry. 

Senate Bill 2132 would require schools to consider students as being “in attendance” if the student’s absence is to participate in a FFA or 4-H program competition or exhibition. 

“We are asking that all 4-H and FFA members be supported in exhibiting their projects at the state level event,” Hayden testified. “The skills I learned through both organizations allowed me to be truly successful and impact the lives of others who shared the same interests. I will forever be indebted to the opportunities that I was given in replace of a school day, as the contests and events fueled my passion to feed the next generation of agriculturalists.”

Liz Hayden at a recent livestock judging contest. She shows breeding sheep at the Illinois State Fair.
Photo by Swinging R Photography.

Editor’s Note: Illinois FFA is a youth organization that prepares members for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. 4-H is the largest out-of-school youth organization across the state aimed at teaching practical skills to youth by offering lessons in communications, leadership, career development, livestock, home improvement and computer technology.

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