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September 2020 4-H Alumni News
 Tina Veal

Greetings from Illinois 4-H! 

September brings a new 4-H year with new goals and opportunities for 4-H youth to learn and grow!  4-H provides youth the opportunity to learn hands-on through a variety of educational program areas and receive guidance from mentors like you, our 4-H alumni.

Illinois 4-H is positioned to continue to make an impact on our youth, in our communities and train our next generation of leaders. We have persevered through challenges that 2020 has brought our families.  Illinois 4-H alumni have elevated the 4-H program by serving as 4-H virtual judges and leaders, by sharing your 4-H stories and helping with our new 4-H Spark Sheets.  Thank you for sharing your talents with us to continue "to make the best better" in Illinois 4-H.

With a new 4-H year, new opportunities will be offered from the Illinois 4-H Alumni Association as we build our membership and identify 4-H alumni together.  We have the ability to build and define our future.  I look forward to working with you to continue to build and support a program that we believe in.

Tina Veal
4-H Alumni & Constituent Engagement Manager
Illinois 4-H

You SPARKED an interest for future 4-H youth!

Thank you for sharing your expertise to help us build a new resource for Illinois 4-H through the development of Illinois 4-H Spark sheets.  4-H alumni provided expertise from the industry to enhance the project resource pages for each of the ninety-one 4-H project areas.

The Illinois 4-H Spark Sheet resource page is still being finalized.  Watch for more information to come on the Illinois 4-H Spark sheet website.

We hope these project sheets will help 4-H members find and nurture their spark, try something new or be inspired to keep learning as much as possible or explore a career opportunity.  The possibilities are endless!

 Leah, McLean County
 Leah, McLean County
Illinois 4-H Recognizes 4-H Seniors

Illinois 4-H recognized those enrolled in 4-H as a Senior in high school with a 4-H memorabilia tassel.

During 2020, Illinois 4-H youth faced challenges during the COIVD19 pandemic with school closures, 4-H cancellations, and 4-H exhibitions being moved to a virtual format.

We recognize the challenges our 4-H youth faced, especially our 4-H members that were in their Senior year of high school and missing many milestones in their school and 4-H careers.”, said Tina Veal, 4-H Alumni & Constituent Engagement Manager with the Illinois 4-H program. “We wanted the opportunity to recognize those youth by creating a new 4-H memorabilia tassel to let 4-H youth know that we support them and are proud of the challenges they have overcome and to invite them to stay connected to 4-H in their final years and as a 4-H alumnus.” This recognition was made possible with support from the IL 4-H Foundation.

All graduating 4-H members have been formally invited to join the Illinois 4-H Alumni Association. This association was established in 2016 to create a lifelong, statewide community of 4-H alumni and provide increased opportunities for meaningful engagement to increase awareness, pride, participation, volunteerism, and philanthropic commitment to Illinois 4-H.        

4-H continues to build responsible and caring adults who are more likely to give back to their communities.  The Illinois 4-H program has a strong history of making an impact on youth, building leaders, and preparing them for success.  Veal said, “We want to remain connected to our 4-H alumni to see the impacts they make in their future careers and communities.”


Thank you 4-H Alumni Virtual Fair Judges!

With the recent events of COVID-19 effecting 4-H programming and member exhibitions, we appreciate our 4-H alumni stepping up to assist with virtual fair judging for both county and state exhibitions!  
The Illinois State Fair had over 2200 fair entries judged over three weeks. Carla Blue, 4-H Events Coordinator said, "We are thankful for the over 70 judges that donated their time and many of our judges volunteered all three weeks to judge the state fair entries.  The virtual state fair "was like building a plane while you are flying it" and we appreciate so many that helped us accomplish this experience for our 4-H youth this year."
Some comments from our 4-H alumni judges included:

"I judged photography projects virtually for Champaign County this summer. I thought the process was fairly smooth and straightforward once I got the hang of the software. I enjoyed leaving comments, suggestions, and words of encouragement for the participants just as I would have in person. I would definitely judge projects this way again if needed!" 
      ~ Holly Birch Smith, Mason County 4-H Alum, Judge for Photography 1, 2, Advanced Photography & Photo Editing.

"4-H projects were exhibited this year, just as they have been for many years.  It took a little different look with virtual judging.  I was fortunate enough to judge six county fairs and three sessions of State Fair virtual clothing exhibits.  Maybe there were fewer exhibits, but they were still wonderful.  I couldn’t talk to the exhibitor; I couldn’t see each seam in their garment or accessory.  But, I noticed these things:  kids learned valuable life skills, kids smiled in the photos because they knew they had accomplished something important, moms and grandmas and YouTube gave helpful tips, and I got to judge in counties I wouldn’t have in the past.  They did their best; I did my best.  And next year we will all make the best better again as we always have!"
       ~ Jeannea Shier. Crawford County 4-H Alum & McLean County 4-H Volunteer, Judge Clothing

"While I do not believe virtual shows replaced an in-person event. Given the circumstances, it gave exhibitors a goal to work towards and allowed them to showcase their work. From my perspective, I like that an exhibitor can re-play their video and read the judge's comments. It is a little bit like watching game film."
      ~ Lee Rincker, Shelby County 4-H Alum.  Judge Livestock 

We hope to see you in person at the Illinois State Fair in 2021!  Thank you again for making this virtual exhibit opportunity possible for our 4-H youth!

Illinois 4-H Empowers Youth to be Leaders

Illinois 4-H provides youth opportunities to develop as leaders and share their voice to make a difference in the world. Illinois 4-H builds these youth engagement experiences for youth to learn and grow, build their leadership experiences, and provide statewide support to 4-H programmatic areas.  

This summer, Illinois 4-H has empowered many 4-H youth to get involved through a variety of teen leadership experiences.

Illinois 4-H Youth Leadership Team

Twenty-two youth were selected to serve on the Illinois 4-H Youth Leadership Team.  Katie Duitsman, Extension Specialist, has engaged these youth to provide youth-led programming for teens in a virtual setting during COVID19.  These teens led an online session for older youth to learn more about teen opportunities at the state and national levels.  They sought feedback from teens across Illinois for their feedback on what types of needs they have for their personal development.  In August, the youth leadership team members hosted another virtual session on state award opportunities and are looking forward to additional input for sessions in the future.

The Illinois 4-H Youth Leadership Team also annually plan the Illinois Junior Leadership Conference.  In 2020, the challenge has been accepted by these youth leaders to create this conference to be held virtually on November 7, 2020.  Teens are coordinating online workshops to engage youth and are excited to take workshops developed redevelop them to be offered to teens through county programs. Additionally, they are hoping to support 4-H clubs with some online virtual games and activities to use for virtual events.  

Illinois 4-H Food Advocacy Team

Twenty-one youth were selected to be part of the first cohort of young food advocacy leaders in Illinois.  These youth will serve as a resource for service-learning and education throughout the state of Illinois around food access and food justice.  They will coordinate the Food Action Summit in March 2021. 

Juntos 4-H

The Illinois 4-H Juntos program conducted an online summer camp, Juntos Illini Quarantine Series, which embodied interactive online virtual sessions, video instructions, independent and group work with staff members, and peers.  Youth followed the four H's to learn about themselves, current events, college and career readiness, self-care, and to learn new skills through projects in art, music, and a variety of project areas.

COVID Idea Challenge 

The COVID Idea Challenge was held over the summer for youth to create low-cost ideas to help their local communities during the pandemic. Youth entered their ideas and presented them to a panel of judges.  The prize was $1,000 to make their idea become a reality.

Maher Adoni and May Yang from University High, Champaign, IL, created an idea to support local restaurants with messaging on COVID requirements using universal symbols to showcase if masks are required, the capacity of establishment, if the restaurant was minority-owned or if outdoor seating is available.  Their idea called, Cosignage, will offer businesses to options:  A sign to put in the window that can easily be attached and removed or a corrugated plastic sign to put outside the business.

The second winner of the COVID Idea Challenge was Ryan He from University High, Champaign, IL. His idea was for a low profile face shield that could be made using a 3D Printer and a sheet of transparent plastic. This design is both form-fitting, as well as a low-cost solution that also provides needed protection to our essential workers. His design has had prototypes printed and donated to Carle Hospital in Champaign, IL, where it has been implemented on a small scale with plans to expand to other hospitals and front line facilities through the Fall.  

4-H Hall of Fame volunteers announced, honored at virtual ceremony


                              Click here to view the 2020 4-H Hall of Fame video

Service is a hallmark of the Illinois 4-H program. The Illinois 4-H Foundation annually honors longtime volunteers and former staff members for their selfless dedication to 4-H, the University of Illinois Extension youth development program.

In 2020, 87 individuals received the Foundation Hall of Fame Award, presented during a virtual ceremony Aug. 18. Five of the honorees are being named posthumously.

The Illinois 4-H Foundation established the statewide Hall of Fame in 2005 to honor and celebrate extraordinary 4-H alumni, volunteers, and former 4-H staff. Each inductee receives a commemorative Hall of Fame medallion.

These volunteers fully embody what 4-H strives to instill in youth,” says Angie Barnard, Illinois 4-H Foundation executive director. “They are caring, dedicated, generous leaders, and the Illinois 4-H Foundation is extremely proud to be able to provide this honor to thank them for their service to this wonderful organization." Illinois  4-H programs reach nearly 200,000 youth each year through 4-H clubs, camps, educational programs, workshops, and conferences held in communities, schools, parks, and homes across Illinois. In total, more than 15,000 volunteers fill key leadership and mentoring roles.

Many volunteers have a tradition of 4-H in their family or were 4-H members themselves,” Barnard says. “More and more, though, adults brand new to the 4-H experience are seeing the value of the life skills development program and volunteering for the first time.”

To volunteer in your community, one may request information from the local Extension office. “There is a place for everyone in 4-H, whether you have an hour or a lifetime to give,” Barnard says.


Interested in learning how to serve as a member of the Illinois 4-H Foundation Board?  Complete the IL 4-H Foundation Background Profile and send to Angie Barnard, Executive Director of the IL 4-H Foundation at abarnard@illinois.edu


National 4-H Week logo

Share your 4-H pride during National 4-H Week

National 4-H Week October 4-10, 2020. National 4-H Week is an opportunity to highlight the remarkable 4-H youth in your communities and showcase the incredible experiences that 4-H offers young people.

Every year, National 4-H Week sees millions of youth, parents, volunteers, and alumni come together to celebrate the many positive youth development opportunities offered by 4-H. The theme for this year’s National 4-H Week, Opportunity4All, is a campaign that was created by National 4-H Council to rally support for Cooperative Extension’s 4-H program and identify solutions to eliminate the opportunity gap that affects 55 million kids across America.

With so many children struggling to reach their full potential, 4-H believes that young people, in partnership with adults, can play a key role in creating a more promising and equitable future for youth, families, and communities across the country. In 4-H, we believe every child should have an equal opportunity to succeed. We believe every child should have the skills they need to make a difference in the world.


We look forward to sharing stories about how 4-H is important in the lives of youth, volunteers, and alumni during National 4-H Week!


4-H Alumni Profile:  Mrs. Holly Spangler

Name:  Holly Spangler
4-H County:  Edwards County
Years in 4-H:  5 years
Post Secondary Education:  B.S. '98 Ag Communications, University of Illinois
Career: Executive Editor, Prairie Farmer

Favorite 4-H Projects:  Beef

How did 4-H contribute to your leadership skills today?
4-H taught me that in order to work with other people to get something done, I'd need to compromise and help build a consensus.  Valuable skills in any job in our world today! 

Did 4-H instill a career path for you?
Those (dreaded) talks and demonstrations in the church basement taught me to get in from of people and communicate my ideas, which is something I've done every day at Prairie Farmer for the past 20+ years!

What advice do you have for someone who is interested in your career path?
Take every opportunity to develop your communication skills:  speak in front of people, learn good photography, write everything you can.  Become a storyteller.

What advice would you give a current 4-H member?
Try new things. Do hard things.  You'll surprise yourself.

Why should young people join 4-H today?
I'm not sure there is another organization with as much variety as you can find in 4-H - from robots to rabbits.

To see more 4-H alumni profiles, visit our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/il4halumni
To submit your 4-H alumni profile visit: https://go.illinois.edu/4halumnistory

 4-H Alumni News
 4-H Alumni News
Share Your 4-H News

Do you have news to share with the Illinois 4-H Alumni Association?  Moved - New Address? Did you get a new job?  Married?  Promotion?  New Baby?  A recent death of a 4-H alum?  We would love to hear your updates and stay connected!

Share your 4-H News

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We hope you will engage with us online and help create a network of 4-H alumni.