Animal Crackers

Saturday, May 4, 2024

All Creatures Great and Small featuring Horse, Swine, Goats, and Dog.

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 even 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!

2024 Event Information

This Saturday workshop is held every May on the Cornell campus (CALS Animal Science, 507 Tower Rd., Frank B. Morrison Hall, Ithaca, NY, 14853). Check-in begins at 8:30 am in the main lobby of Frank B. Morrison Hall.

Parking is free on Saturdays in the large lot adjacent to the south end of Morrison Hall (“O” lot) or in the Peterson lot at the corner of Judd Falls and Tower Roads across the street from the Dairy Bar. 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.

Participants should make payment directly to the local county CCE Office, not sent to Cornell University.

Educators:  Payment can be made either by check, credit card or invoice. Each participant must be registered separately, but registration fees can be combined so that only one payment is needed.  You do not need to send separate checks or pay individually via credit card for each individual youth. You may also choose to have us invoice your County Association if you wish.

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.

Workshops information:


  • Workshop 1: Holy Cow! Why can cows and sheep eat grass and other farm animals can’t? Rather than a small stomach like people have, dairy cattle have a different type of digestive system with a large stomach with four parts. Did you know they actually have a little help when it comes to digesting plant materials? Special digesting microbes live in the cow’s rumen. Have a look and feel inside a live cow rumen. Instructor: Rink Tacoma-Fogal, CALS Animal Science PhD Candidate, Cornell University.
  • Workshop 2: What’s in My TMR? To keep our dairy cows healthy just like us, they need the right combination of nutrients daily. Find out how to make the healthiest, tastiest meal for your cow and how all of the feeds work together. Instructor: Elaine Noble, CCE Chemung.


  • Workshop 1: Beauty and the Fleece. What makes a fleece beautiful? Come explore different types of wool and natural fleeces and learn what uses they each “shine” at. We’ll learn the steps for turning wool into clothing and try our hands at some of them. Instructors: Katharine Perz, CCE Suffolk, and Bruce Berggren-Thomas, CALS Animal Science, Cornell University.
  • Workshop 2: Welcome to the Club! Are you interested in showing club lambs? Club lambs are born in the winter or spring and sold for meat in the fall. Learn to judge whether a lamb is likely to be good for this purpose. We’ll discuss getting your lamb show ring ready and practice teaching lambs to show at their best! Instructors: Liz, Sunny Hill Farm, and Tammi Kron, CCE Erie.


  • Workshop 1: Birds of a Feather… Wait! What about body type, comb, etc… Meat, Eggs, Fancy and more! Every breed has a unique look and purpose. In this track, we will be learning the different purposes for raising poultry and what breeds fall into each of those purposes. A few of our feathered friends will be joining us to help instruct! Instructors: Erica Orlwoski and Matt Gogis, Fulton Montgomery 4-H Volunteers.
  • Workshop 2: Oviparous - Chickens Aren’t the Only Ones. The story of the egg told by more than just chickens. Take a look into the world of oviparous animals, learn the parts of an egg and get your hands on some of the smallest and largest eggs around! Instructors: Sasha Diederich, CCE Chemung, and Niki Swimelar, Chemung County 4-H Volunteer.


  • Workshop 1: What’s my Type? All About Rabbit Body and Fur Types. Join an ARBA Judge to learn about the 5 body types and 4 fur types into which rabbits are classified. Instructor: Kyle Yacobucci, CCE Fulton-Montgomery and Becca Coombe (Fulton-Montgomery 4-H Volunteer). 
  • Workshop 2: Cavy Cuisine and Rabbit Nutrition, Too.  Cavies and rabbits make great animal science projects, especially if you have limited space. Learn their nutritional needs so you can keep them healthy, happy, and in their best condition for showing. Instructors: Kristina Gabalski, CCE Orleans, and Barb Kurzowski, Orleans County 4-H Volunteer.
Parents of youth interested in attending Animal Crackers must register with their local 4-H Youth Development program through their 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.
Only NYS 4-H Educators or CCE Staff can register youth for Animal Crackers.
If you are not a NYS 4-H Educator or CCE staff member and you register for this program your registration will not be accepted.  A Cornell NETID must be used to register for this program.

Register Youth Here

Educators:  Each participant must be registered separately, but registration fees can be combined so that only one payment is needed.  You do not need to send separate checks or pay individually via credit card for each youth.  You may also choose to have us invoice your County Association if you wish.

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

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 2023 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

  • Linzi Chambers, Extension Aide, 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
  • tatiana Stanton, Extension Associate, CALS Animal Science
  • Jessica Waltemyer, Farm Supervisor, CALS Animal Science

Cornell Cooperative Extension 4-H Educators

  • Sasha Diederich, CCE Chemung
  • Michael Fiorentino, CCE Nassau
  • Kristina Gabalski, CCE Orleans
  • Holly Harwood, CCE Wyoming
  • Robin Houseworth, CCE Seneca
  • Erin Humphrey, CCE Cayuga
  • Abigail Jantzi, CCE Jefferson
  • Courtney Livecchi, CCE Madison
  • Abigail Luzier, CCE Cattaraugus
  • Elaine Noble, CCE Chemung
  • Katharine Perz, CCE Suffolk
  • Amy Pyra, CCE Ontario
  • Jessica Reisdorf, CCE Genesee
  • Maureen Ring, CCE St. Lawrence
  • Jessica Tyson, CCE Essex County – Chair
  • Kyle Yacobucci, CCE Fulton-Montgomery

Special Thanks

For more information about the 2023 Animal Crackers Program, contact your local county Cornell Cooperative Extension Office,  Jessica Tyson at jms943 [at], Animal Cracker Chairperson, or Barb Jones at bjj6 [at] at the NYS 4-H Animal Science Program.