4-H volunteers Crista Hartstirn and Nancy Williams play integral role in successful programs

4-H Volunteers with awards

Volunteers are the backbone of the 4-H program. Each year, University of Illinois Extension Fulton County 4-H selects two 4-H volunteers to recognize for their outstanding volunteer efforts. This year Crista Hartstirn of Fairview was honored as Fulton County 4-H Leader of the Year and Nancy Williams of Smithfield was recognized as Fulton County 4-H Volunteer of the Year.

“These two ladies are the cream of the crop,” mentioned Janis Blout, Fulton 4-H program coordinator.

The 4-H Leader of the Year award goes to a volunteer who has gone above and beyond in service to 4-H and his or her club and who has not received this honor before. The 4-H Volunteer of the Year award goes to a person who has helped the  4-H program in ways other than club leadership, such as assisting at events, teaching workshops, or serving on committees.

Crista Hartstirn is a Fulton County 4-H alum. She is in her 10th year as key leader of the Fairview Huskies 4-H Club, along with her husband, Randy; Kevin and Patty Eathington; and Brad and Wendy Tessier.

“It takes a lot of people to lead a 4-H club of over 50 members!” Janis explained. “Their club has really grown in recent years.” The club is noted for their community service projects, including yard clean-up for those in need, and fun events for the whole family such as trips to a trampoline park or to a ski resort.

“Crista and the other leaders keep this large group informed and organized, which is no small feat,” Janis continued. “Crista is an accountant by profession, so she apparently does well with big numbers!”  Crista and Randy have three children – Rachel, 20, a student at U of I and a 4-H alum; and 4-H members Kendra, 17, and Caleb, 12.  “Fulton County 4-H could not be more proud to name her as 4-H Leader of the Year.”

4-H Volunteer of the Year Nancy Williams is a former 4-H leader and was a 4-H member in southern Illinois. Over the years she has taught 4-H sewing workshops, judged at 4-H General Show, judged at 4-H Sewing Show, chaperoned events, helped at the 4-H food stand, served on committees, and helped set up for and tear down events. She is a Home Economics teacher and has shared her skills with many.  Nancy and her husband, Dan, have a daughter, Vanessa, and son, Daniel, who are now 4-H alumni, but she still helps whenever she can. “Fulton County 4-H appreciates her continued service, and is proud to honor her as this year’s 4-H Volunteer of the Year,” stated Janis.

Fulton County held its 2020 Extension Volunteer Banquet on March 9 . In addition to these two special awards, Extension staff also honored other 4-H volunteers, council and committee members, Extension Master Naturalists, Extension Master Gardeners, and Extension supporters. 


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Janis LaRue Blout has worked for University of Illinois Extension since 1981 and retired in August 2021. She managed the Fulton County 4-H program since 1993. She is a lifelong resident of Lewistown, Illinois, and has three grown children and two grandchildren.



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