Award Year

Craig Pessman has an eye for detail and a heart for serving others, which has named him a 2023 Illinois 4-H Alumni Award winner.

4-H took him beyond the Garden Plain Ripsnorters 4-H Club to the University of Illinois campus during his 10 year 4-H career.  Attending the Illinois 4-H conference cemented his interest in attending the University of Illinois and majoring in Ag Communications, receiving his bachelors in 1981 and established his business, Craig Pessman Photography, due to his passions he found in 4-H.

His career began as the Boone County Youth Advisor with the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension.  He was instrumental in youth development work and shared his passion of photography and leadership with youth and adults. Craig then served as the Assistant Director of the Illinois 4-H Foundation, where he created promotional materials, wrote corporate grants, and coordinated events raising $2.5 million for 4-H programming. In 1985, Craig changed his career path to the field of technology and software sales.  He then joined local technology firm WORDLINK and after 14 years he moved IBM to work with nationwide software business partners to grow their business. For the past four years he has been with TD SYNNEX (TD SIN-EX) as a Vendor Business Executive responsible for leading their IBM Automation Software businesses.

You can often find Craig on the sidelines at University of Illinois athletic events serving as a primary photographer for the University of Illinois athletics. Craig has earned the respect from several sports teams, as he was selected to travel to major postseason events on the team charter plane including the 2018 NCAA Volleyball Final Four and the 2023 Big Ten Women’s Basketball tournament.  Mike Koon, Director of Sports Events and Film for Visit Champaign County stated, “His work not only captures the key moments of an athletic event, but also the emotion of what it means to play, coach, work behind the scenes, or simply cheer on the Fighting Illini.”

Craig’s passion for helping others has influenced his volunteer commitments. He served as President of Illini Networkers, a non-university group to support women’s volleyball. Craig has also been active with Coaches vs. Cancer Gala and at Camp Kasem (KES-UM), a weeklong camp for children of families changed by cancer and assists with the Camp Kesem Fundraising Gala. He is also devoted to mentoring youth as he served as an advisor to Nabor House Fraternity and currently serves as president of the Nabor House Education Foundation.

Craig is capturing the moments around him and showcasing the skills he gained through 4-H.

View Craig Pessman Award Video