The 4-H mission in New York State is to connect youth to hands-on learning opportunities that help them grow into competent, caring, contributing members of society. Youth from rural, suburban, and urban areas of the state come together to participate in the Animal Science programs. These programs include hands-on opportunities to learn to responsibly care for, feed, train, and show different species of animals, as well as academic knowledge in biology, physiology, agriculture and production systems, veterinary medicine, and nutrition. Youth from diverse backgrounds learn to work together, gain confidence, and leadership skills in these programs. Graduates of youth Animal Science programs have marketable skills that help them get jobs, apply to colleges, and succeed in life.

The New York State Animal Science 4-H programs are run out of the Cornell University Department of Animal Science in Ithaca, NY. There are youth extension programs for both livestock species, such as dairy, horses, and goats, as well as companion species, such as dogs and rabbits. Youth have opportunities to learn with other youth from across the state during various programs and showcase their animals and knowledge at state level contests including at the Great New York State Fair! Resources on this site will help youth and their parents connect with their local CCE/4-H educators, learn about different species program areas and competitions, and find study materials. Educators will find program and species resources, contest rules, and information on applying for grants for youth in their county.

boy with pig

Youth have opportunities to work with livestock species in the 4-h programs. There are county and state level shows, as well as educational opportunities and competitions.
Livestock species include: beef, dairy, goat, horse, poultry, sheep, and swine.

4-H youth and educator with rabbits

Companion animal species are very approachable projects for 4-Hers. They are often already part of the family!
Companion animal species program areas include dog, pets, and rabbit/cavy.

Girls wrapping legs of horse model

State level hands-on educational programs allow youth from all over the state to form connections and try new things. Animal Crackers and Dairy Discovery happen one weekend each spring, while Career Explorations and Junior and Beginning Dairy Leaders are longer programs that give youth a more in-depth opportunity to make life long friends and learn new skills. County educators looking to start local programs in Vet Science or Science and Technology can find resources here.

youth on stairs with ribbons

4-H Youth get many opportunities to showcase their knowledge and hard work! Contests in horse, dairy, and livestock judging, horse and dairy quiz bowl, dog and livestock skillathon, and many more allow youth to practice public speaking, use practical knowledge, and gain confidence in their skills. There are opportunities for local, as well as state and national level participation in these events.

Block and Bridle at New York State Fair

There are many opportunities for 4-H Youth to participate in the Great New York State Fair! They can show animals, participate in hands-on demonstrations, and compete in different contests.

4-H Animal Science in the News

child leads goat

Field Note

Animal Crackers: Youth explore careers in animal science
Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) and the New York State 4-H Youth Development program recently held Animal Crackers, a full-day interactive event for students aged eight and up with interest in animal science. This year’s event happened on May 7th and marked the first year of returning to entirely in-person programming. Dana Palmer, Senior Extension Associate of Cornell’s 4-H Youth Extension, reflects on this year’s successes.
  • Cornell Cooperative Extension
  • Animal Science
  • Animals
students participating in dairy discovery

Field Note

Cornell PRO-DAIRY recently hosted Dairy Discovery, an interactive day of workshops for high school students interested in exploring careers in the dairy industry. After two years of online-only events, students were able to attend in-person...
  • Cornell Cooperative Extension
  • PRO-DAIRY
  • Animal Science
Bekah and cow

Field Note

Cornell Animal Science Dairy Youth Extension and New York State 4-H provide youth programs for those interested in livestock, pet species, animal biology and production systems. These programs are catalysts for personal growth and development, encouraging leadership, cooperation, and marketable skills for the future. Bekah Martz '25 has been part of 4-H since she was 12 years old and participated in dairy youth extension throughout high school. We sat down with Martz to learn how these experiences led her to study at Cornell CALS Department of Animal Science.
  • PRO-DAIRY
  • Animal Science
Cornell Raptor Program

Field Note

  • Cornell Cooperative Extension
  • Animal Science
  • Animals
Hand pulling carrot from ground

Multimedia

News

Under Anu Rangarajan’s direction, the Cornell Small Farms Program builds networks and cultivates relationships among new, aspiring, and longtime farmers across the state. During the past year, when staying connected feels harder than ever...
  • Cornell Cooperative Extension
  • School of Integrative Plant Science
  • Horticulture Section

Upcoming Youth Animal Science Events

4 youth learning about animal feed

Workshop

4-H Animal Crackers
Animal Crackers 2022 “All Creatures Great and Small” to take place in-person on the Cornell Campus on Saturday, May 7, 2022. This year’s program will highlight the following species: equine, bovine, goat, and dog. The annual Animal Crackers...
  • New York State 4-H
  • Animal Science
  • Youth and Families
holey cow

Workshop

We are excited to offer a hands-on in-person Dairy Discovery this year! Please note that this year’s program will be one day, March 26th, at Cornell University in Morrison Hall. We will be taking a whole-farm approach to the workshops in 2022...
  • New York State 4-H
  • Animal Science
  • PRO-DAIRY
four youth in dairy barn

Workshop

Entry for the Youth Dairy Judging competition is now open! The contest will be held on September 2nd during the colored-breed week during the New York State Fair. Registration is required and it is open to any New York youth ages 8 to 19 using...
  • Animal Science
  • PRO-DAIRY
  • Youth and Families
four students in a calf barn are laughing

Workshop

We are cautiously optimistic that we will be able to send our NYS 4-H Dairy Challenge Team to Harrisburg for the Junior Dairy Management Contest this Fall. There is a $1,000 scholarship available to the highest scoring youth at this contest and...
  • Animal Science
  • New York State 4-H
  • Youth and Families