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Our Illinois 4-H Story

Feeding your neighbor takes on new meaning

Some 4-H teens have taken the "hands to larger service" challenge of the 4-H pledge to heart and focused their 4-H energy feeding their neighbors. Clare VanSpeybroeck was recently honored by Illinois 4-H as a state community service award winner for her efforts fighting local hunger. Together, with her team of 4-H Hunger Ambassadors in Rock Island County, more than 115,000 meals have been distributed in Rock Island County alone.

Her experience helping at the packaging event inspired her to take on the challenge of organizing a meal-packaging event of her own. She raised $2,300 to cover the cost of the ingredients, and, with the assistance of the Foundation's $750 grant, financial assistance from Evelyn Brant Thomas, and a core team of volunteers, was able to distribute more than 16,000 meals for her local community.

Clare, 17, and fellow 4-H members also serve a free monthly meal they prepare themselves for the community. They fund a weekend backpack program and teach other teens across the state how to advocate for those in need. The teens also developed recipes to enhance the packaged meals' flavor.

"It is because of the amazing support of my 4-H Extension program and 4-H Foundation that I was able to take on this challenge," Clare said.


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.