URBANA, Ill. – The achievements of Illinois 4-H members were celebrated at a virtual ceremony April 10, with youth earning $45,000 in scholarships and several awards. With the unique circumstances of this past year, the award recipients overcame many challenges on the way to these accomplishments.
“This was a year that none of us could have imagined, and these young men and women did not allow even a global pandemic get in the way of achieving their goals,” says Lisa Diaz, University of Illinois Extension assistant dean and 4-H director. “In fact, we saw the opposite; these 4-H youth pivoted, innovated, and rose to the occasion in a way that surpassed any and all of our expectations.”
The Illinois 4-H Foundation raises private and corporate funds to support the Illinois 4-H program. “We are so lucky to have such a strong network of donors that deeply value education,” says Angie Barnard, Foundation executive director.
“These youth have demonstrated the 4-H spirit of service, dedication, and resilience throughout this past year,” says Diaz. “As new challenges presented themselves, they stepped up to rise to the occasion. These awards celebrate hard work and goals being attained.”
The celebration video aired April 10 for family and friends to enjoy. View all of the 2021 winners’ biographies on the 4-H awards website at https://4h.extension.illinois.edu/members/awards.
State 4-H awards
Forty-five young adults – including five from Kane and Kendall Counties – were chosen as scholarship winners of the State 4-H Award. There are nine divisions: animal sciences; civil engagement and global living; creative and performing arts and communications; food systems; healthy living and nutrition; leadership; natural resources and environmental science; personal growth; and STEM and robotics. Each of the five winners in each category receives a $1,000 scholarship. Local honorees include:
•Brayden Caraynoff-Huber of Minooka earned the Civil Engagement & Global Living award, which recognizes youth who have focused on 4-H work in service to/for others. This award is sponsored by Nann Armstrong, Tim and Belinda Carey, Kevin and Kari Carey, and Ron and Melanie Warfield.
•Emily Reppy and Sydney Reppy of Yorkville each received a Creative & Performing Arts & Communications award for 4-H work on the arts and the art of communicating with others. This award is sponsored by Dee Murray and Janice Seitz.
•Willem Vandermeij of Geneva and Julian Heidrich of Oswego each earned the STEM & Robotics award, which recognizes youth who have focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. This award was sponsored by the Lisa Woessner Memorial 4-H Science and Technology Award endowment, Donna Mueller, Dee Murray, and Landon Frye.
The State 4-H Experience Award recognizes members whose participation in community service, leadership, and project work excel. To qualify for the award, 4-H members must participate in activities outside the county. With the unique circumstances of this past year, the award recipients overcame many challenges on the way to these achievements. Diamond Level awards recognize youth who completed six or more experiences in one of the three dimensions, with at least four experiences beyond the county level. The Diamond Level awards are sponsored by Martha Millard. The Emerald Level award recognizes youth who completed eight or more experiences specializing in one of the three dimensions, with at least two state, national, or international experiences. The Emerald Level awards are sponsored by Sid and Florence Banwart.
Award winners from DuPage and Kendall Counties include:
•Emerald Leadership award: Alexander Ford, DuPage County; Julian Heidrich, Kendall County; Sofie Heidrich, Kendall County; Emily Reppy, Kendall County; Sydney Reppy, Kendall County
•Emerald Project Learning award: Brayden Caraynoff-Huber, Kendall County; Lydia Oker, Kendall County
Ag leadership awards
Kendall County 4-H member Lydia Oker of Sandwich also earned a 4-H Sustaining the Future Award for her achievements, outreach, and leadership through her 4-H swine project work. The 4-H Sustaining the Future Award was created to recognize 4-H members who have exemplified outstanding leadership in the agricultural industry. The 4-H Sustaining the Future Award is sponsored by Illinois Farm Bureau and Affiliates through the Illinois 4-H Foundation.
About Illinois 4-H: Illinois 4-H is the flagship youth development program of University of Illinois Extension and administered through the College of Agriculture, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences. 4-H grows true leaders, youth who are empowered for life today and prepared for a career tomorrow. The hands-on approach in 4-H gives young people guidance, tools, and encouragement, and then puts them in the driver’s seat to make great things happen. Independent research confirms the unparalleled impact of the 4-H experience, demonstrating that young people are four times more likely to contribute to their communities; two times more likely to make healthier choices; two times more likely to be civically active; and two times more likely to participate in STEM programs.
About Extension: Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities.