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Our Illinois 4-H Story

'Simply the Best' sparks desire to share, contribute

For 25 years, University of Illinois Extension's "Simply the Best" program in Washington County has mixed the right ingredients to inspire positive change in the lives of 250 junior high youth there a year.

High school teens who have been through the program themselves serve as mentors, helping their younger peers learn to make good choices for physical and emotional well-being while standing up against bullying. Extension Program Coordinator Amanda Fox knows the importance of teaching youth to give back to their communities, so kids also packaged more than 3,000 meals in cooperation with the Lake Salateeska Camp's Food For Orphans program. Nearly 30 organizations contribute to the training.

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.