Nine teens were awarded $1,000 scholarships based on their achievements in the Illinois 4-H program. The Illinois 4-H Foundation presented the Legacy of Leadership scholarships to 4-H members who have demonstrated and maintained a high standard of 4-H excellence and mastery during their membership tenure. The scholarships were presented in a ceremony held Saturday, Oct. 7 in Champaign.
Winners included Adrian Austin of Marion County, Natalie Carlson of Ogle County, Alex Hartke of Effingham County, Taylor Hartke of Effingham County, Katlyn Helton of Logan County, Rachel Miller of Franklin County, Johnathan Prose of Ogle County, and Kaley Rouse of Stark County.
In addition, Julia Taraszewski of Macon County was presented a $1,000 scholarship for her excellence in the livestock project area. Her scholarship is provided by LA-CO Industries.
“Through their words and actions, the 4-H members honored with the Legacy of Leadership and Livestock scholarships have taken their personal leadership skills to the next level by elevating others around them,” said Debra Stocker, University of Illinois Extension 4-H youth development specialist.
The scholarships are provided by the Illinois 4-H Foundation through gifts received by the following donors: Legacy of Leadership Endowment, Farm Credit Illinois, Nannette Armstrong, Patricia Clickener, Lila Jeanne Eichelberger, Nellie R. McCannon Trust, Keith Parr, and LA-CO Industries. Presenting the scholarships on behalf of the Foundation were Board Members Karl Barnhardt and Barbara Clark. Donors present included Nannette Armstrong and Lila Jeanne Eichelberger.
“Our awardees embody the true spirit of 4-H, having made a difference not only in their communities, but also Illinois and the nation,” said Lisa Diaz, U of I Extension assistant dean and director of Illinois 4-H. “As we look ahead to the future, we are proud of the dedication, service, and fortitude of the young men and women who have developed through our 4-H programs.”
About our Winners
Adrian Austin: Adrian was out exploring the family’s livestock barns as soon as she could walk. She is instrumental in the family’s show pig operation and is responsible for the care of the hogs. Adrian spends many hours in the barn, feeding, cleaning, and preparing the pigs for shows and sales. Her interest has focused on marketing and promoting the family’s swine genetics to others in the industry. She has been extensively involved with livestock judging in 4-H, FFA and now on the collegiate level, reaching All-American status at the National 4-H Livestock Judging Contest in Louisville in 2016. Adrian has actively served in a variety of leadership roles on the county and state level related to her love of livestock, including serving as a Pork Quality Assurance Certification trainer, organizing 4-H livestock judging contests, and serving as president of the Illinois State 4-H Livestock Ambassador Team. She is currently a student at Lincoln Land Community College and plans to transfer to a 4-year university to study Agricultural Communications and Journalism.
Natalie Carlson: Natalie indicates that of all of her 4-H memories, attending National 4-H Congress is her proudest 4-H career accomplishment. She experienced cultural events, participated in community service, and met youth from across the country who have the same passion for 4-H that she does. Along the way, she discovered who she truly is and says that 4-H is at the root of it all. Her community service project of coaching a local soccer team along with a focus on health-related 4-H projects have directed her to the study of dietetics University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Her project work in Foods and Nutrition and Health have provided her with a great background to start. Natalie states, “Because of 4-H, I can handle anything with the knowledge, confidence, and leadership abilities that I have gained through my experiences.” Natalie is a past National 4-H Congress delegate and State 4-H Key Award winner.
Alex Hartke: While Alex’s primary 4-H projects have focused on waterfowl, cattle, and sport fishing, he lists the leadership opportunities that 4-H has offered him as his greatest accomplishments. From serving as a 4-H club co-coordinator for a group home for mentally and physically challenged adults to serving on the Illinois State 4-H Youth Leadership Team, he has grown in his abilities to plan and coordinate activities, teach, and speak to a variety of audiences including local and state elected officials. Alex served as one of four 4-H representatives on the Illinois Farm Bureau Youth in Education in Agriculture Committee, working in partnership with other youth and adults to plan various 4-H and FFA events. His waterfowl project started with Mallard ducks until a mink eliminated his flock. Since then he has expanded with a variety of geese and ducks on the family farm. In addition, Alex built a fish habitat for the farm pond. He also raises steers. He works approximately 80 hours a month as an assistant swine manager at the Hartke Swine Center. He is a freshman at Lake Land Community College, studying agribusiness. His future goals include returning to the family farm to expand the operation.
Taylor Hartke: As a younger 4-H member, Taylor attended the Illinois 4-H Jr. Leadership Conference and observed the older 4-H’ers working with younger members to help develop their skills. She set a goal at that time to become that type of 4-H’er. She reached her goal and is now an Illinois State 4-H Youth Leadership Team member, assisting with the planning and organization of that same event. When a 4-H member and friend was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, Taylor saw the many challenges the family faced and decided to start her own non-profit organization. It’s The Small Things provides backpacks and bundles to children and their families to help brighten their time in the hospitals. “4-H cannot only help influence a child, it can assist in helping them find their passion and potential. I have found a place and passion, and 4-H is helping me reach my potential. 4-H is helping me be the change.”
Katlyn Helton: As a 4-H Ambassador and Teen Teacher, Katlyn is involved in helping design anti-bullying programs, teaching basic cooking skills, and planning and leading the Logan County 4-H Cloverbud Day Camp. She plans to major in biology and become a pediatrician, and hopes to travel and volunteer in countries that need medical assistance. She also wants to establish a foundation to mentor children who are focused on making a difference in the world, providing them with opportunities to volunteer and learn. Katlyn has already made huge strides in her future with the different volunteer organizations with which she has worked. From initiating a support group for girls at a local community center to starting a 4-H mentoring program at the local junior high and working with youth with learning disabilities, Katlyn demonstrates her passion for serving others and her ability to reach the goals she has set. Katlyn is a past National 4-H Congress delegate and State 4-H Key Award winner.
Rachel Miller: As a first generation 4-H member, Rachel was mentored by an older member who helped her step out of her shell and get involved in a variety of things on the local level. As Rachel grew older, she stepped up her involvement becoming a member of the Speaking for Illinois 4-H roster and participating in Legislative Connection at the State Capitol. From there, she was selected as a delegate to National 4-H Conference in Washington, D.C. and worked on a briefing for the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Agency. During high school, she took a nursing assistant class and had rotations at a nursing facility. Her 4-H club began volunteering at the facility a few times a year to both aid the residents and teach the younger members the importance of respecting elders. Rachel is currently a student at St. Louis University, on her way to a medical degree. She is a past winner of the Illinois 4-H LCP Award.
Johnathan Prose: Johnathan lists his biggest accomplishment in 4-H as being a catalyst of change. Through his service and leadership skills, he has influenced others to follow his footsteps and create change in his community. Noticing that people with physical and mental disabilities tended not to participate in the 4-H Carnival, he organized the first-ever carnival at Village of Progress, a community focused on helping individuals with disabilities. Johnathan has also taken his Visual Arts Wood project skills to another level as he works on sanding and painting dressers at the Serenity House Shed, donating bird houses to the park district. Johnathan looks forward to serving as a catalyst as his future career plans include a degree in either Environmental Engineering or Meteorology. The Environmental Engineering degree would allow him to create green products to improve water quality in third world countries. The Meteorology degree would help assist in natural disaster warning and relief. Either path will help him to continue to create change in the world.
Kaley Rouse: From the very beginning of her 4-H experience, Kaley has been involved in club and individual community service activities. She helps at fall festivals, works on a variety of benefits, collects food, and created her own charity to benefit The Children’s Hospital of Illinois and St. Jude. “Helmets & Heels” has been her own special project for the past seven years, collecting new toys, stuffed animals, and various other items to deliver to St. Jude right before the holidays. Since starting the toy drive, Kaley has collected over 4,000 items. Her service will continue as she has chosen to become a nurse practitioner, specializing in pediatrics. Kaley is a past recipient of a State 4-H Award Scholarship.
Julia Taraszewski: While Julia participated in and enjoyed a wide variety of 4-H projects during her 4-H career, her animals have provided her with the most personal growth. Her career goal of becoming a large animal veterinarian has been stimulated by a passion for helping all animals. She has a wide collection at home to work with! From horses to sheep, rabbits and a variety of poultry, Julia has her hands full not only taking care of her own animals, but working as a farm caretaker and pet sitter. She is a full-time student at Milliken University after graduating from Richland Community College this past spring. She has also been employed as a biology lab assistant for the past two years. Julia competed in the Superior Young Producers Contest at State Fair and was named a skill-a-thon winner and top five overall. Julia is a previous 4-H LCP Award winner and represented Illinois at National 4-H Congress.