MORRIS, Ill. – Empowering youth to find their voice is an integral part of the 4-H program, and for 19-year-old Nathanael Greene, a recent 4-H alum from Morris and recently elected as Grundy county’s youngest county board member, that voice led him right to a seat at the table – in county government.
“It’s huge to be able to have an idea, formulate that idea, and then get that across to not only me but those around me and see some of those goals accomplished,” says Greene, “4-H gave me that ability, and it made a world of difference in how I got to this place. I’m confident it’ll help me in the future, especially with this job on the board.”
“We were excited to hear of Nathanael’s accomplishments,” says Brooke Katcher, 4-H program coordinator in Grundy county, “graduating 4-H last year, it is amazing to see him flourish and give back to the community in a way that makes a difference.”
Starting 4-H at the age of nine, Greene learned early on the value of community and communication. He began to find his voice by participating in service projects with his club and standing up to speak in front of his peers and says that the community of peers and caring adults in 4-H helped him explore his interests and give him life skills that will last.
With an interest in civic engagement and community service, Greene started taking advantage of opportunities to have his voice heard within the program. He participated in Grundy County Government Day where he shadowed county leaders, including the coroner and board members, to get a look into the inner workings of local government.
Using the skills that he learned in 4-H, such as communications and leadership, Greene was able to further explore his passion for serving his community through the 4-H Legislative Connection Program - a program that brings young people to the Capital for a day of engagement with elected officials. These experiences eventually turned into an internship in his final year of 4-H and a position with his state representative.
After graduating from 4-H and thinking about the difference he could make in his community, he decided to run for county board using those same skills. Now, he’s a newly elected board member – one of the youngest in county history.
“I’m excited, and I think it will be an incredible journey. Through 4-H, I’ve met so many people and become so enriched as a person. Now I get to serve with all the other board members serving a community I love,” says Greene, who adds that he is excited to continue to give back to his community, but this time on the side of government where he can serve others who were like himself and encourage them to be their best self.
“We are so excited for Nathanael and all that he has accomplished,” says Katcher, “When youth advocate for issues that matter to them and are involved in civic learning, they start to see themselves as being able to make a real difference. For Nathanael, this meant a seat in local government and a future in giving back to the community.”
Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities.
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Photo Caption/Credit: Nathanael Greene, a 4-H alum, was recently elected as the youngest county board member in Grundy county and credits his success to his experience with 4-H and Illinois Extension. Photo Credit: Andrea Greene
Writer: Anthony Warmack, Communications & Marketing Program Coordinator