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Our Illinois 4-H Story

How national networking opportunities help grow true leaders

This past month ten youth from Illinois were able to attend the 100th National 4-H Congress. This was a five day event held in Atlanta, GA where they were able to take part in many activities such as workshops hosted by individuals from high level universities, fun sightseeing, and a morning of service with everyone who attended. I was able to ask some of the participants some questions about their experiences and how national networking opportunities help them grow.


Q: Favorite Part of the week?

A: “My favorite part of the week was the morning of service. I was able to paint park benches at a local park in the Atlanta area. This was my favorite part of the week because the faces of the people that we helped were always smiling.” Anthony Joiner, Macoupin County 

A: “My favorite part about National 4-H Congress was being able to interact with youth from across the country. We all bring unique experiences and skills to the conversation, and this was an opportunity to exchange those ideas and grow as leaders.” Delaney Smith, Champaign County 

Q: What was your biggest takeaway from congress?

A: “My biggest takeaway from Congress was being in the presence of hundreds of youth from 37 states that had the same passion for becoming influential leaders in their communities. I so enjoyed having the opportunity to showcase how to be a leader throughout the week and on the community service day.” Carlson Rozanas, Boone County 

A: “My biggest takeaway from this weekend was being inspired by the keynote speakers each day because they all have accomplished so much, even when setbacks occurred in their paths. They all inspired me to take risks and use my four H’s to get far in life, while serving individuals I encounter along the way. My end goal is to make a positive impact in others lives and inspire along the way, by advocating for 4-H and all it has done for me. We’re fortunate to be a part of such a great program that not all individuals have access to, which is why we need to spread our knowledge to the world around us.” Lydia Oker, Kendall County 

Q: What is something you learned at Congress that you can start implementing in your county or as a part of the Youth Leadership Team? 

A: “During my time at the National 4-H Congress, I learned the importance of keeping an engaged audience. Along with, new ways to make lecture based activities hands-on. I can bring this knowledge and new experiences to the Youth Leadership Team by incorporating the right time increments for activity and always having something hands-on for people to do. I can use these qualities during workshops that we lead throughout the year for different youth activities.” Gracie Prose, Ogle County 

A: “Through National 4-H Congress, I have learned that hands-on activities are essential to utilize when teaching. When planning meetings, events, and activities for my country or the Illinois Youth Leadership Team, I will be sure to integrate interactive activities to keep participants engaged.” Naomi Dolan, Vermilion County

To learn more about 4-H county, state, and national pathways for teens, contact your local Extension Office.

Meet the Author: Megan Eppel is a member of the Youth Leadership Team. She is currently a sophomore in college studying business management and marketing.  Megan lives in Lake County and has been a member of 4-H for 10 years and now is a 4-H alumni. In her free time she likes to sew and hike.