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Governor signs bill to back state’s No. 1 industry with support for future farmers | Illinois


(The Center Square) – The state’s 4-H leaders are applauding a new bill signed this month by Gov. J.B. Pritzker that excuses students from school for work-based learning events.

House Bill 3814 amends the Illinois School Code by removing a conflict that students in 4-H and Future Farmers of America faced when it came to attending career-related events during school hours.

By allowing these students to miss class without penalty for sanctioned events, the bill is a major win for both students and the agriculture industry, Pritzker said upon signing HB3814 into law.

The state’s 4-H leadership couldn’t agree more.

“For me it’s a reflection of our legislators really recognizing the value of 4-H and [Future Farmers of America], and creating these hands-on learning experiences beyond the classroom and responding to the feedback from youth and families who are saying this is important to preparing youth for future success,” Dr. Lisa Bouillion Diaz, assistant dean and director at the University of Illinois Extension 4-H Program, told The Center Square.

There are nearly 200,000 youths enrolled in 4-H programs in Illinois who will find a barrier to work-based event attendance removed because of the new law, she said. The measure also helps students involved in FFA.

The governor signed this bill at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield on Aug. 14, choosing a setting that further shows his support for the state’s No. 1 industry.

“I think it’s an appropriate setting because the State Fair has always been a showcase event for agriculture as an essential and vibrant economic center for our state that really connects us across communities,” Diaz said. 

It was with great excitement, she said, that 4-H members had the opportunity to view the signing.

Diaz noted that today’s future farmers and those in related fields have so much technology at their disposal, including artificial intelligence and drones, which 4-H endeavors to include in its training to fully prepare students.

“It’s just a quickly changing environment that 4-H is working hard to make sure our young people are prepared for,” Diaz said, citing predictions that one-third of today’s jobs will be obsolete in seven years or undergo radical change. 

In a recent news release, Pritzker highlighted agriculture as Illinois’ No. 1 industry. 

“And it’s the pride of Illinois,” he said. “But in order to ensure its prosperous future we must invest in the next generation of agricultural leaders.”

The law ensures that students who attend agricultural learning events will gain credit toward school attendance; however, a family member must obtain assignments missed during the period of absence. 

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