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Key Award celebrates youth service and mentoring

Sunday, October 28, 2018
photo of Key Award winners

The Illinois 4-H Key Award emphasizes community service and mentorship by 4-H members. Seven 4-H teens were honored as the 2018 award recipients at a ceremony Oct. 20 in Champaign. The award is sponsored by the H. Richard and Sarah F. McFarland Endowed 4-H Youth Leadership and Character Development Support Fund through the Illinois 4-H Foundation.

The late Richard McFarland was a 4-H and University of Illinois alum who experienced tremendous success in the food industry, agriculture, and real estate; and he shared the fruits of that success with the organizations he treasured, said Angie Barnard, Illinois 4-H Foundation Executive Director.

“When it comes to professional achievement, Dick believed that character and leadership development were just as valuable as formalized classroom education,” Barnard said. “Not only did he model entrepreneurial success, but he also made sure that Illinois 4-H youth and College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences students were afforded opportunities to build a similar path.”

The Hoopeston native earned a degree in agriculture from University of Illinois in 1952. After serving in the Korean War, he built an accomplished career working for several food companies and then started his own company, Barnard said. “Dick’s estate included a $2-million unrestricted gift to Illinois Extension 4-H Youth Development and a similar $2-million gift to the College of ACES.”

Each year, 4-H members who exemplify the traits he admired receive the 4-H Key Award. This year’s winners include Parker Karrick, Marion County; Grace Skelton, Logan County; Erin Stichter, Whiteside County; Hannah Voss, Clinton County; Joshua Rossi, Grundy County; Katlyn Roberts, Adams County; and Rachel Wolff, Macoupin County.

“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 the Winners:

Parker Karrick, Marion County

Parker knows, and has known for a long time, exactly what she wants: a career in agribusiness and agricultural communications. As she watches her peers struggle, Parker said she is ready for college because 4-H has guided her along a path to her future. A 4-H leader was the first to encourage her to learn public speaking and take on leadership roles. That’s all it took for Parker to begin competing and helping others achieve their goals.

Katlyn Roberts, Adams County

Katyln has inspired others as a club and county Federation officer. Her projects include rabbits, veterinary science, and metals. Her metal project allows to express her creativity and spend time with her dad. She attends Quincy University studying nursing. Katyln plans to work in the emergency room at Blessings Hospital where she’ll be able to help others.

Joshua Rossi, Grundy County

Through programs like Speaking for Illinois 4-H, Josh has become confident in his ability to present to a variety of audiences, ranging from the local Home and Community Education group to state legislators. He is active in Federation and the Illinois State 4-H Youth Leadership Team. Josh values community service and has participated in projects such as Illini Fighting Hunger food packaging events and the birthday in a box project. He credits 4-H for fostering valuable lifelong skills.

Grace Skelton

Grace balances school, athletics, 4-H, leadership, and community service. As a State 4-H Community Service Award winner last year, she attended National 4-H Congress in Atlanta. She serves on the State 4-H Youth Leadership Team. Her project work focuses on health projects, such as foods, nutrition, and overall well-being. Grace is planning on continuing her education in nursing. 

Erin Stichter, Whiteside County

Erin’s actions highlight the final words of the 4-H pledge: “For my club, my community, my country and my world.” Erin said 4-H “fertilized the seed which was planted early in my life” to mold her into the leader she is. She recognized that being a mentor, teaching workshops, and volunteering in her community could be one of most positive differences she could make. Erin plans to study agronomy at Iowa State University where she hopes to research chemicals and soils.

Hannah Voss, Clinton County

Hanna has a passion to work with children. As president of the Clinton County Federation, she hosted a Cloverbud camp for the younger members of the community. She mentors younger members in her club. Hanna is studying nursing at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville working toward her registered nursing license and bachelor degree. She hopes to specialize in pediatric nursing and maybe become a nurse practitioner.

Rachel Wolff, Macoupin County.

Rachel has learned to think outside the box in 4-H. She visits the local animal shelter and takes small animals for nursing home residents to hold. When Rachel takes her chickens, the residents always tell stories of raising chickens in their childhood. She learned compassion from listening to their stories. Rachel is enrolled at Lewis and Clark Community College studying science. She plans to transfer to a 4-year university to complete a bachelor’s degree in engineering.