Elizabeth Auer was one of the first 4-H Shooting Sports members when the program began in Illinois in 2009. Now, at 23, she's the first former member to return as a shooting sports volunteer leader by completing training in rifle and archery.
"I got so much from the program," the Woodford County volunteer said, "that I just wanted to give back." Elizabeth is now one of 675 4-H volunteers in Illinois who have completed the 4-H Shooting Sports certification. She said she believes enthusiasm is the key to having youth remain active in the program and hopes she can inspire the 4-H members.
"Shooting sports helps people develop patience and confidence," she said. "I want them to say 'I can do this!'"
Four Illinois volunteers completed the required national training in April which now allows Illinois to offer the new discipline devoted to hunting and wildlife. State trainers include Mike Quill of Kendall County, Curt Sinclair of Piatt County, Brad Arndt of Christian County and Shawn Pickett of Kane County.
"I love it because it gets kids in love with the outdoors," said Sinclair, statewide Extension camping educator.
"This new discipline is a perfect companion project for those already taking air rifle, archery and shotgun," said Dan Dawson, statewide Extension shooting sports educator. Ninety-six of the 102 Illinois counties now offer 4-H shooting sports projects.
To hear the impact of shooting sports participation for Illinois youth, watch Iroquois County 4-H member Ciara on the Illinois 4-H YouTube channel.
"When I step to the target, there's no one else in the world; you take a breath and you release. . . . When they say archery's a discipline, you truly learn discipline."
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy Mae Bingman, University of Illinois Extension Marketing and Communications Manager
Judy uses powerful words and photography to tell the Extension story. She is a skilled communication strategist and storyteller with demonstrated success in building teams and creating strong organizational brand identities that deepen Extension’s impact among key audiences, build brand loyalty, strengthen employee talent, and expand public engagement. She is a frequent conference presenter at the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents Conference and helps Extension staff across the nation tell compelling stories.