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Our Illinois 4-H Story

Kind gesture by older 4-H member leads to positive experience for youth

Eric's pony was being a typical pony on show day; stubborn.

For two years, Eric struggled to find common ground with his pony. The pony didn't do anything Eric asked of him on show day, said Extension Program Coordinator Amanda Fox. Eric's attempt to show the pony left him exhausted and frustrated, so much that he decided not to compete in the rest of the day's events.

Setting her own ambitions for a trophy aside, Morgan, a fellow horse exhibitor, offered Eric her horse for the final events. Outside the show ring, they talked through the various patterns of the remaining classes, and then Morgan watched with pride as her horse obeyed Eric's commands.

Eric's tense face began to slowly relax into a huge smile. The crowd encouraged him as well and cheered "bring her home" as he rounded the last barrel of the race. Morgan's sacrifice reassured Eric that 4-H was a safe place to learn and feel welcomed.


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.