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University of Illinois Extension

4-H members learn 'superhero' leadership skills

February 10, 2014

"There's a superhero in all of us, according to Deb Stocker, University of Illinois Extension Specialist in 4-H Youth Development. More than 100 seventh and eighth grade youth learned ways to sharpen those "superhero" leadership skills at the 2014 Illinois 4-H Junior Leadership Conference held Feb. 7 and 8 at the Decatur Conference Center and Hotel in Decatur.

With the theme "Saving the World Through Leadership," the young people learned that they can begin to change the world by taking action in their local 4-H clubs and their local communities, Stocker said.

Rod Stoll, Farm Credit Illinois public relations vice president and Illinois 4-H alum, inspired the 4-H members to keep improving themselves, stretch their possibilities, live in genuine gratitude, serve others and keep a young-at-heart attitude.

"Remember, you're a work in progress and you're going to make mistakes," Stoll said. "Embrace opportunities to stretch yourself by connecting with people who are not like you."

He encouraged the 4-H members to find ten things each day to be thankful for and live in genuine gratitude as they strive to be of service to others. "As 4-H members, we are all about serving others," Stoll said.

An energetic, enthusiast champion for 4-H, Stoll asked the 4-H members what they would take away from the conference, and the junior high attendees' answers showed wisdom and insight gained from the workshop lessons. "I want to be the leader other people don't want to work to be," wrote one attendee. Another responded "I learned to take a piece of knowledge from everyone I meet."

"I learned the power of teamwork is greater than anyone's power on their own," wrote one participant, while others focused on leadership: "Leadership is nothing without listeners;" and "Leadership can't be forced on others."

The conference was taught by members of the Illinois 4-H Youth Leadership Team, a team of uniquely-trained high school and college-aged 4-H members and young adult 4-H alumni. A portion of the conference expenses was covered by the Illinois 4-H Foundation.

About 4-H: Illinois 4-H strives to help youth learn skills for living. University of Illinois Extension provides 4-H programs in every county in Illinois. Illinois 4-H aims to impact the lives of 200,000 youth each year through sustained learning clubs and groups and short-term programming.

Source: Debra Stocker, Extension Specialist, 4-H Youth Development, dstocker@illinois.edu

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