The Wisconsin Youth Livestock Program continues to grow as more and more youth incorporate their interest in cattle, sheep, swine, and meat goats through 4-H/FFA projects. These animals are the vehicles in which we teach youth life skills to be contributing adults. This website will provide youth and adults the teaching tools to become successful in their project areas as well as keep up to date on current information. This site is managed by Bernie O’Rourke, Extension Youth Livestock Specialist.
Bernie O’Rourke is currently the Youth Livestock Specialist in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in the Department of Animal & Dairy Sciences, University of Wisconsin Extension. Bernie received her B.S. degree in Animal Sciences from South Dakota State University and her M.S degree in Animal Sciences/Meat Science from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. She was involved in livestock and meats judging as well as coaching youth and collegiate teams. Prior to arriving in Wisconsin in 2001, she was a 4-H/Livestock Extension Educator with the University of Minnesota Extension Service. Bernie provides leadership and support to the livestock project areas (beef, sheep, swine, and meat goats) by sharing current research and practices to youth and adults engaged in 4-H, FFA, and other organizations with state coordinator responsibilities for the Youth for the Quality Care of Animals national program.
Her position priorities are to lead the Wisconsin Youth Livestock Program and partner with 4-H, FFA, and other groups who want to deliver high-quality, needed programs through the animal sciences discipline areas and share current animal science research. Her youth programming efforts and research focus are in agriculture literacy and animal management, gaining knowledge and changed behaviors through animal sciences education. She also teaches the Career Orientation course for college undergraduates, guest speakers in lectures and labs, animal sciences student recruitment, and actively involved in local and statewide organizations.
Bernie has a master’s degree in meat science with 4-H/FFA, collegiate and coaching experience in Livestock, Meats, and Meat Animal Evaluation Judging. She judges several carcass and ultrasound shows and assists in conducting the 4-H and FFA Livestock and Meats Judging Contests.
Bernie was raised on a diversified livestock and crop farm in South Central Minnesota. Her husband, Ron, and their 3 boys continue to be involved in each other’s family operations while maintaining their own flock of commercial sheep.