Becky Gocken

Local youth will see a new name on the roster for Program Coordinator, 4-H and Youth Development in Winnebago County Extension as Becky Gocken steps up to the plate. Gocken, who has worked for the University of Illinois Extension in Stephenson County for the past two years has transitioned over to be more centralized within the community and surrounding area she resides in. She will fill the role left by Stacy (Cwiklo) Ristau, who has since retired.

Gocken will continue to coordinate planning of educational activities for Extension 4-H youth development programs as well as programming for underserved youth audiences. She will work with volunteers and other Extension staff to continue youth educational activities as well as local 4-H programming, shows and competitions.

“I am pleased to have Becky transition to the Winnebago County Extension Office and look forward to her making important local connections to increase youth served by our 4-H Youth Development programs,” says Margaret Larson, University of Illinois – Winnebago County Extension Director. “Becky has incredible skills and has been an asset to our programming.”

While in the Stephenson County Extension Office, Gocken started various youth programs in partnership with the YMCA and their satellite sites as well as other community outreach programs such as monthly workshops focusing on under-served youth audiences in the Freeport area.

Gocken also successfully transitioned all the programming to virtual this past year due to COVID restraints. “We made the show go on in 4-H. We held virtual shows and kids still received recognition, awards and feedback from judges,” she explains.

Prior to joining Extension, Gocken was an art teacher in Pecatonica for 10 years. “I started a Random Act of Kindness Club while I was teaching and I had over 100 kids in the monthly after school program,” says Gocken. “I still see those kids on occasion, and I really enjoyed my time with them. I’m looking forward to creating new community connections just like that in Winnebago County.”

Gocken lives in rural Pecatonica (West Lake Village) with her husband, Rich, and two children, Emma and Jaden. In her spare time, she enjoys morel mushroom hunting, being outside, fishing, gardening, crafting and thrift shopping.

“I definitely like to be with the kids, building community networks,” continues Gocken. “It’s not just 4-H. It’s community outreach to all Winnebago County youth. All of our workshops and programs are open to any youth. Some upcoming activities include a babysitting clinic, Wizarding World of 4-H Camp, 4-H day camp and bass fishing SPIN club.

For more information on 4-H and Youth Development in Winnebago County, contact Rebecca Gocken at 815-986-4357 or by email at

Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in program and employment. If you need reasonable accommodation to participate in programming, contact the program coordinator. Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time for meeting your needs.

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