National 4-H Poultry – NC Places Every Event!

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Eggcellent work North Carolina at 2023 National 4-H Poultry & Egg Conference Event!

On Nov 15-16, 2023, the 2023 National 4-H Poultry and Egg Conference was held at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, KY. This annual conference allows 4-Hers from across the U.S. to compete in educational events that help them learn to make and defend decisions, practice public speaking, and gain poultry-related skills while networking with other top-tier peers and poultry professionals. North Carolina’s 4-Hers had their best overall showing on the National 4-H Poultry stage (records kept going back to 1965)!

In this National 4-H Conference, five separate competitive events occur which include 4-H Poultry Judging, 4-H Avian Bowl, 4-H Cookery Presentations of Chicken BBQ, Turkey BBQ, and Egg Chef Challenge. A total of 142 high school-age 4-Hers representing 24 states participated as teams or individuals in these events. The NC delegation had a contestant in each event and each NC participant placed!

Cookery Presentations – Egg Chef Challenge, Chicken BBQ, and Turkey BBQ

In Egg Chef Challenge, youth participants demonstrate how to prepare an egg dish while discussing the nutritional value and versatility of eggs. Olivia Stirrup, coached by Laura Allen, 4-H Agent, both of Rowan County, scrambled her way to a 3rd place finish winning a pin and $200 check.

Egg Chef Challenge 4-H winner from North Carolina

Olivia Stirrup, from Rowan County, 3rd place Egg Chef Challenge winner from North Carolina, Rowan County (coached by Laura Allen)

In BBQ categories, contestants prepare and barbecue four chicken thighs or turkey burgers using their recipe and also give an oral presentation on their corresponding poultry industry. They are judged on three areas:  1) cooking skills including grill and food safety, 2) sensory evaluation, and 3) presentation skills. Payden Kiser coached by Tanya Heath, County Extension director and 4-H Agent, and Johnica Kiser, all of Edgecombe County grilled his chicken to a 2nd place finish winning a pin and $200 check. Thomas Bradley coached by Tanya Heath and Diana Bradley all of Edgecombe County grilled his turkey burgers to a 4th place finish winning a pin and $150 check.

3rd place 4-H Chicken BBQ winner receiving award

Payden Kiser, from Edgecombe County receiving 2nd place Chicken BBQ award from Jesse Lyons at Nationals

4th place 4-H Turkey BBQ winner receiving award at Nationals

Thomas Bradley, from Edgecombe County receiving 4th Place Turkey BBQ award from Jesse Lyons at Nationals

4-H Avian Bowl  – NC Places 6th!

4-H Avian bowl is a double-elimination quiz bowl tournament in which teams are required to answer questions regarding poultry-science, -production, and  -industries with all material obtained from the 2023 national 4-H Avian Bowl Manual study packet. A total of 15 teams (52 4-Hers) competed in the 2023 National Avian Bowl Contest with Carteret County Coach, Coleman Killinger, the Carteret County 4-H Agent coached the NC 4-H Avian Bowl team comprised of Team Captain, Bethany Copeland, Anna McNiel (of Carteret County) and Lexi Gilkey (of Onslow County) to a 6th place finish winning a bronze pin and $25 check for each member.

4-H Avian Bowl team

2023 NC 4-H Avian Bowl Team & Coach; left to right: Lexi Gilkey (with team Mascot Gilbert), Coleman Becton, Anna McNiel, and Bethany Copeland

4-H Poultry Judging  –  North Carolina Team Takes Top Spot! 

Poultry Judging is the event where youth are scored on how well they are able to grade and evaluate 3 divisions of poultry including production hens, market poultry, and market eggs. Youth compete as a team and as individuals. This is first year that a NC team has ever placed 1st at this event (records go back to 1965) thanks to team members:  Connor Howard, Elizabeth Peluso, Matthew Peluso (all from Craven County) and Tessa Darnell (from Halifax County). Ashley Brooks was the 4-H Agent from Craven County that coached the team to Nationals and Beth Burchell was Tessa’s coach from Halifax. The NC team’s successes did not stop here. They also won the following division placings:

In the production hens division, participants are required to evaluate three classes
of hens for the level of past egg production. They are required to give oral reasons for two of the classes to justify their placings. In this division, NC took top honors winning both 1st place team and individual, Matthew Peluso, honors.

In the market poultry division, participants are required to grade ready-to-cook chicken carcasses and parts, identify cut-up parts, and evaluate further processed products. The NC team placed 2nd in market poultry and Individuals from NC placed 3rd, Elizabeth Peluso, and 7th, Tessa Darnell.

In the market egg division, participants are required to grade table eggs for exterior quality, internal quality by candling, and broken-out quality. The NC team was recognized for placing 3rd and individuals from NC placed 5th, Matthew Peluso, and 6th, Howard Connor, all in the market egg division.

Overall, three of the top 20 individuals came from the NC team with Mathew Peluso getting 4th, Elizabeth Peluso getting 6th, and Tessa Darnell getting 19th. Finally, the NC team were able beat out 2nd place Pennslyvania and 3rd place Louisiana

4-H Poultry Judging Team - 1st Place in Nation

Top 4-H Poultry Judging Team at Nationals: left to right: Elizabeth Peluso, Matthew Peluso, Ashley Brooks (coach), Connor Howard, (all from Craven County) and Tessa Darnell (from Halifax County) with individual, team, coach, and overall awards

The conference began with a poultry career workshop led by representatives from  Cargill, Chore-Time, USDA-AMS, and recruiters from multiple universities. Participants next enjoyed a tour at the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory and Churchill Downs which was followed by orientation for all participants, and a meet and greet bowling and pizza party where state items were exchanged among participants. The NC delegation swapped mini cans of Cheerwine soda donated from Cheerwine in Salisbury, NC.

North Carolina delegation at the National 4-H Poultry Conferencce

Participants, Agents, and Coaches from NC enjoying fellowship at National 4-H Poultry Conference

Mrs. Barbara Jenkins of the US Poultry Foundation supported the event by participating in the awards banquet. Along with 4-Hers, an additional 124 people, including poultry specialists, county extension agents, 4-H leaders, coaches, chaperones, and other family members, attended and helped make the conference a success. Much support made this event possible including national donors:  American Poultry Historical Society, California Poultry Federation, Dr. Francine Bradley, Dr. Lou Arrington, Hy-line International, Indiana State Poultry Federation, Kentucky Poultry Federation, Kristie and Jamie Guffey, Maple Leaf Farms, Midwest Poultry Federation, Missouri Egg Council, Nebraska Department of Ag-Poultry and Egg Division, North Carolina Egg Association, North American International Livestock Exposition, Pacific Egg, Poultry Association, PennAg Industries Association Poultry Council, Poultry Science Association, Southeastern Gamebird Association, Texas Broiler Council, Texas Egg Council, Texas Poultry Federation, Texas Poultry Improvement Association, United Egg Producers
US Poultry Foundation, Wisconsin Poultry, & Egg Industry Association, and
World’s Poultry Science Association and North Carolina state donors:  Kathy Bunton at Carolina Farm Credit, Wilkes Area Poultry Association, Jocelyn Roten at Carolina Farm Credit, Bob Ford at North Carolina Poultry Federation, Dave Witter at House of Raeford, State 4-H Office, Lisa Prince at North Carolina Egg Association, and Cheerwine. A special thank you to Kaleb Pope, who volunteered and provided valuable input during state-level coaching sessions. Thank you to all those who assisted with state-level coaching sessions including: Fernanda Santos, Mrunmayi Chawnekar, Becca Wysocky, Jonas Asbill, Ken Anderson, Taylor O’lear Reid, Mike Mann, Mark Paylor, and Richard Hoyle.

Find more information about the National 4-H Poultry and Egg Conference at or reach out to Dr. Mary Fosnaught, director of North Carolina poultry youth programs at the Prestage Dept of Poultry Science ( and the North Carolina committee representative on the National 4-H Poultry Committee.