Pritzker signs bill excusing 4-H and FFA events from school absence

Students across Illinois will no longer be marked unexcused from school for participating in a 4-H or FFA event.

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker signed HB 3814 at the Illinois State Fair on Monday allowing students attending work-based learning events like 4-H and FFA programs to count their participation towards school attendance.

“This new law is a major win not just for our students, but for the future of our agricultural industry”, Pritzker says.

Illinois 4-H Director Lisa Diaz tells Brownfield since many schools go back in session this week, activities at the Illinois State Fair are a great example of how this bill will benefit 4-H and FFA members.

“All of our youth are ambassadors, they’re involved in the junior livestock shows and choosing between this or school is just one of many examples. No longer will they have to make that tough choice.”

She says when members participate in 4-H and FFA related events they are learning and practicing skills essential to success after high school like communication, leadership, public speaking, project management and goal setting.

“Every time I talk to an employer, they can tell from candidates who was in 4-H because they’re making eye contact, they shake that hand, they’ve reflected on and can talk about how experiences they’ve had have transferable relevance to a job they’re applying for.”

Illinois FFA State President Thaddeus Bergschneider and Illinois 4-H Youth Leadership Team Chair Naomi Dolan expressed their thanks to lawmakers and supporters during the signing.

Dolan says, “Having had the opportunity to attend state and national 4-H events during my high school career, I always had to make the tough decision on accepting the once in a lifetime development opportunity or to stay in class to avoid any repercussions that might have come from an unexcused absence. Now, with this bill 4-Her’s and FFA members alike are able to freely participate in these programs during a prime time in their lives, where college, career and personal development opportunities are crucial for their future success.”

Bergschneider says, “Through these programs, students are becoming the leaders, innovators and workforce for agriculture, which is our state’s largest industry and the key piece for our efforts toward conservation and sustainability in our nation and in our world. FFA has always taught and educated its members to become those leaders and innovators for our state’s future, and now their attendance record will show the true value of those experiences.”

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