The state’s administration hopes that the new bill will encourage Illinois students to pursue workforce and career development learning while they’re still in school.
“Agriculture is our number one industry, and it’s the pride of Illinois. But to ensure its prosperous future, we must invest in the next generation of agricultural leaders,” Pritzker said. “House Bill 3814 will allow students attending agricultural learning events to count that towards their school attendance. These learning opportunities cultivate professional development and responsibility in our youth, and their hands-on experiences ought to count towards their education. This new law is a major win not just for our students — but for the future of our agriculture industry.”
FFA and 4-H programs encourage urban and rural Illinois students to participate in hands-on projects across agricultural, STEM, and business development sectors. Students who participate in work-based programs have been shown to make healthier and safer choices and give back to their communities long-term, fostering a culture of collaboration and hard work at a young age.
How does the new bill work?
This bill amends the Illinois School Code to allow students who miss traditional classroom days for events in work-based learning programs to have those events counted towards overall school attendance. The student’s parent or legal guardian is responsible for obtaining assignments missed while participating in an eligible program.
This isn’t the governor’s first effort to encourage FFA and 4-H participation. In 2022, Pritzker announced all students enrolled in an agriculture class would have their FFA dues paid by the state, increasing membership from 23,000 to over 41,000 participants.
Illinois State FFA Officers served as Grand Marshals for the annual Twilight Parade at the Illinois State Fair this year.
“Programs like FFA and 4-H are essential to the future of Illinois, providing our young people opportunities to reach their full potential in agriculture to take our state to the next level,” said Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton. “Our administration is committed to expanding the pathways and creating bridges so that every child can be a part of Illinois’ number one industry. Ensuring access to a well-rounded Ag education, including work-based experiences like on our fairgrounds, is how we build up the future Ag leaders of tomorrow.”
Sen. Doris Turner Agrees.
“As a strong supporter of ag education, I advocated for FFA and 4-H students whose attendance standing has been jeopardized for missing class to participate in competitions,” said Turner, a Democrat from Springfield. “Learning through hands-on experiences, especially in the agriculture industry, is a great way for students to expand their wealth of knowledge.”
»Related: 8 life lessons kids learn at the county fair