Animal Crackers

Saturday, May 7, 2022

All Creatures Great and Small featuring Beef Cattle, Horses, Goats, and Dogs

The annual Animal Crackers program provides New York youth with fun, hands-on, science-oriented learning experiences on Animal Science topics. This workshop is for 4-H members interested in learning more about their favorite livestock, companion or pet animal species; emphasis on different species groupings and activities varies annually. Participants will learn about different aspects of animal care, interact and exchange information with faculty, staff, students, professional producers, industry experts, and more, utilizing the unique facilities of Cornell University. Hands-on workshops are planned for each species group.

Each year an opening presentation kicks off the event with a welcoming statement or remarks related to the annual theme. Livestock production themes are usually offered in even years and Horse programs are offered in odd years. A noon-time demonstration and closing program is also typically featured.

Workshop presenters and topics are selected by a planning committee that looks at trends and current issues. Youth input on topics is also solicited through statewide advisory committees and educator feedback.

Examples of some of the fun things participants have experienced in the past: The Cornell Raptor Program, ultrasound technology, Herding dogs at work, Disc dogs in action, barrel racing, driving, poop soup, and more!

2022 Event Information

This Saturday workshop is held every May on the Cornell campus (Morrison Hall - 507 Tower Rd., Ithaca, NY, 14853). Check-in begins at 9 am.

  • 2022 Date: May 7

Parking is free on Saturdays in the large lot adjacent to the south end of Morrison Hall (“O” lot). If participants are in need of handicap parking, please notify the event coordinators when registering prior to the event.

The program is geared to enrolled 4-H youth involved in the beginning stages of their 4-H animal science projects. Youth are strongly encouraged to attend with their parents or chaperones. Suggested age range is 8-12, however, all youth 8 and up are welcome.

  • $20 per youth participant.
  • No fee for chaperones.

Transportation to and from the event is at the participant’s own expense. Some CCE Associations charge additional fees to cover transportation & chaperone expenses.

Lunch and snacks will not be provided. Participants should bring their own lunch and snacks or visit one of the dining facilities on campus.

Cancellation/Refund Policy: Cancellations prior to the event deadline will not be charged. Cancellations after the deadline will be billed. Substitutions or same program replacements are allowed, but need to be registered and approved by the event coordinator before arrival. No-shows will be charged in full.

Closes: April 22, 2022

Registrations are handled through your local county Cornell Cooperative Extension Office. CCE County Associations have varying policies about participation in 4-H events, and not all counties participate in Animal Crackers. The NYS 4-H Office encourages CCE Associations to invite all eligible youth in their programs to participate.

County 4-H educators and/or staff can register youth at the link at the top of the page and will be invoiced directly for all registration fees. Registration opens in Feb/March and will close in April (approximately 1-2 weeks prior to the event) or when spots are full, whichever happens first.

Copies of the entry summary and detail will automatically be emailed to the CCE Educator’s email, to Barb Jones (Dept. of Animal Science), and to the parent/chaperone of the registered youth(s). It will be the responsibility of the CCE educator or staff to contact the youth if there is a problem with their entry.

If you have any questions regarding registering youth for Animal Crackers, please contact Barb Jones at bjj6 [at] or Jessica Tyson at jms943 [at]

General 4-H Policies and Information for Chaperones

All Cornell University COVID guidelines must be followed while on campus. The most up to date campus visitor policy can be found here. As we return to in-person events, the health and safety of attendees, sponsors, speakers, and staff is the highest priority. As of January 24, 2022, proof of negative test results or vaccination is required by Cornell to be shown at check-in. Masking will be required by all attendees, regardless of vaccination status. Cornell recommends a single use surgical or K/N95 mask instead of a cloth mask.

Everyone (youth and adults) are expected to create an inclusive and welcoming environment, respect the diversity of conference participants (e.g. race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, cultural background, etc.). Everyone will be expected to uphold the NYS 4-H Code of Conduct. All youth and adults are expected to model appropriate behavior and follow NYS 4-H guidelines. In addition, all Cornell property and Cornell program presenters should be treated respectfully. County participants acting inappropriately will be sent home at their cost/inconvenience.

For Animal Biosecurity, all participants should plan to wear clean clothes and extra shoes that were not worn on the day of the event for home farm chores. Disposable booties will be provided.

Adult chaperones are responsible for behavior and safety of their attendees. Counties are expected to provide chaperones in about a 1 to 6 ratio for youth attending in each species track. Chaperones may be shared with other counties. Every participant must have a designated chaperone. Chaperones may be expected to supervise youth from other counties during program times and in the absence of a 4-H Educator, chaperones may need to make decisions on their Educator’s behalf. Any disturbances or emergencies should be reported to participant’s chaperone first and then county educator and event staff if needed. Alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs are strictly prohibited.

Lead 4-H Educator: Each Association is expected to identify a Lead Educator designated as a main contact for registration purposes, for volunteer supervision, and for crisis and incident management. Lead educators also need to communicate with their attendees to assure they are oriented and aware of other registered county delegates.

For more information on NYS 4-H General & Chaperone Policies, visit the NYS 4-H Policies webpage.

Conference participants will be asked to help us learn about the program’s effectiveness by completing a survey or sharing their reflections. Participation in program evaluation efforts is completely anonymous, voluntary, and there is no impact on program participation if someone decides not to complete a survey.

We are committed to providing universal access to all of our events. Please have your 4-H Educator contact Barb Jones at bjj6 [at] before the registration deadline to request disability accommodations. Advance notice is necessary to arrange for some accessibility needs.

The members of the 2022 Animal Crackers Planning Committee listed below have given their time and expertise to make the Animal Crackers program a success. Thank you to all for your support of this program and of the NYS 4-H Program.

Cornell University

  • Jennifer Bassman, Communications Assistant, NYS 4-H State Office
  • Abby Christman, Program / Extension Aid, CALS Animal Science
  • Debbie Grusenmeyer, Dairy Youth Specialist, CALS Animal Science
  • Brieanna Hughes, CCE Saratoga/CALS NYS 4-H Equine Specialist
  • Barbara Jones, Administrative Assistant, CALS, Animal Science
  • Dana Palmer, Sr. Extension Associate, CALS Animal Science
  • tatiana Stanton, Extension Associate, CALS Animal Science

Cornell Cooperative Extension 4-H Educators

  • Craig Brown, CCE Chenango
  • Susan Coyle, CCE Monroe
  • Sabrina DeRue, CCE Jefferson
  • Sasha Diederich, CCE Chemung
  • Michael Fiorentino, CCE Nassau
  • Kristin Ruggiero, CCE Rockland
  • Kristina Gabalski, CCE Orleans
  • Holly Harwood, CCE Wyoming
  • Robin Houseworth, CCE Seneca
  • Erin Humphrey, CCE Cayuga
  • Courtney Livecchi, CCE Madison
  • Abigail Luzier, CCE Cattaraugus
  • Elaine Noble, CCE Chemung
  • Katharine Perz, CCE Suffolk
  • Amy Pyra, CCE Wayne
  • Jessica Reisdorf, CCE Genesee
  • Maureen Ring, CCE St. Lawrence
  • Jessica Tyson, CCE Essex County – Chair
  • Kyle Yacobucci, CCE Fulton-Montgomery
  • Christopher Yarnall, CCE Jefferson
  • Jolene Zaia, CCE Oswego

Special Thanks

2022 Workshops

Donkeys and mules are just a few of the equines that you can also “lease” and show in the NYS 4-H program, even if you already own and show another equine. Learn about physical features and behaviors that make donkeys unique in the Equidae family. Why do they bray? Are they naturally stubborn? What uses do donkeys serve around the world? Learn more about these fascinating and fun creatures from a Cornell donkey expert.

What do these tools have in common? They help keep horse hooves in good shape. Trimming and balancing of horses’ hooves and placing shoes on their hooves is the job of an experienced professional. Learn how to identify some common and unusual tools to help maintain a healthy horse.

Cows are ruminant animals. That means they have special digestive systems that help them break down high fiber feeds. Learn more about what cows eat and how their gut works by feeling a rumen in motion as you stick your arm into a fistulated cow. Ruminate that!

These are not the jeans you wear. Learn more about cattle breed traits and why some are well suited for different climates and purposes. Whether raised for meat, milk or both purposes, you will learn how to identify different breeds.

This is your chance to maneuver a kid through the pelvic cage or a safe delivery, learn how to treat a week newborn kid and get ready for kidding!

Learn to monitor your goat’s body condition and health to make sure they are ready for the challenges in their life, be it milking, growing or hiking. We’ll learn to put a pack on a goat and go through the basics of teaching your goat to lead well and to confidently approach new obstacles they encounter on the trail.

Join some Cornell students who volunteer to raise puppies to become socialized citizens before they graduate to formal training with the Guiding Eyes for the Blind Organization. Learn what it takes to be a puppy parent and how skills may lead to other career paths.

Did you know dog noses have super powers? Learn about training dogs for scent work from some expert dog handlers. This activity involves helping dogs learn how to detect specific materials, like food-safe spices found in your kitchen. Scent detection skills are the foundation of many canine careers in law enforcement, food safety inspection and even human health.