Thirteen teens from Illinois attended a five-day national conference in Atlanta, Ga. Nov. 23 - 27. Illinois delegates to National 4-H Congress are selected on their outstanding 4-H accomplishments, said Lisa Diaz, University of Illinois Extension assistant dean and director of Illinois 4-H.
If 4-H club meetings are the training grounds for leadership development, National 4-H Congress is the pep rally that inspires the members to excel. In addition to trainings and nationally recognized speakers, members network with 4-H members across the United States.
“It is amazing what you can do when you say yes to a cause that is bigger than you,” said speaker Manny Ohonme, founder of Samaritan’s Feet, a worldwide organization which provides shoes for impoverished children.
Recent Georgia 4-H alum Sophia Rodriguez encouraged her peers to think of others. “You don’t lose any piece of yourself by loving someone else.”
John Beede, who has climbed some of the world’s tallest mountains, including Mount Everest, challenged the delegates. “The mountains will never lower themselves to your level; you must rise up to the demands presented to you by the climb.”
The honored 4-H members include Anne Becker of Jacksonville in Morgan County, Grace Betz of Oak Lawn in Will County, Bradley Bruhl of LeRoy in McLean County, Daria Cleland of Capron in Boone County, Lindy Couch of Geneseo in Henry County, Brady Haring of Elizabeth in Jo Daviess County, Craig Logan of Altamont in Effingham County, Evelyn Martin of Newark in Kendall County, Katherine Mueller of Peoria in Peoria County, Joshua Rossi of Morris in Grundy County, Abigail Steffens of Lincoln in Logan County, Nalia Warmack of Marseilles in Grundy County, and Lydia Widener of Normal in McLean County.
The Illinois 4-H Foundation and its donors provide support for the award-recognition trip. Donors include Illinois Farm Bureau, Jennifer Cowsert, Keith Engel, Carrie Francis, Paul and Kristen Hadden, Peter Johnson, Victoria Jozef, Janet Kolmer Grommet, Donna Mueller, Keith and Lissa Parr, Michael Razim, Ryan and Elaine Ruwe, Marvin and Elizabeth Schnitzler, James and Jean Shinn, Jason and Andrya Smith, Kenneth and Lorna Smith, Gerald and Linda Thiele, and John and Tania Wilken.
“Through gifts from our generous donors, we are grateful for the opportunity to recognize the hard work and commitment these young people have put forth,” said Angie Barnard, Illinois 4-H Foundation executive director.