URBANA, Ill. – Six Illinois teens take on new statewide leadership roles as they join the Illinois 4-H Youth Leadership Team Board through the University of Illinois Extension 4-H Program.

The Youth Leadership Team (YLT) is comprised of 20 4-H members and recent alumni under the age of 21 who coordinate and assist with statewide 4-H activities with a board of members that provide leadership direction, planning, and problem-solving to the larger team.

“In my time on the board, I have learned from and been inspired by my peers and fellow leaders on this team,” says 2020-2021 chairperson Beth Warden of Cass County. “I have learned how to manage the work our team is doing, engage and include members in a remote setting, and adapt and be flexible in leading a team in a constantly changing world.”

New Youth Leadership Team board members for the upcoming year include: Caleb Grover of Christian County as chairperson, Naomi Dolan of Vermilion County as vice chairperson, Megan Eppel of Lake County as reporter, Krish Nangia of DuPage County as secretary, and Gracie Prose of Ogle County and Caroline Ahrends of Logan County as social chairs.

New team members are chosen every two years with a new peer-elected board selected every year to allow for new ideas and leadership opportunities as new youth take the lead within the team.

“My hope for the new chair is that he takes what has already been built by this team and works to elevate it to a new level,” says Warden. “As leaders, we are constantly learning and growing as we ask, ‘how can we make the best better?’ I hope the new board answers the call of this question and leads the team as they work towards increasing awareness of our team, creating an even stronger community among our team members, and empowering more youth from across Illinois to realize their own potential as leaders.”

The Youth Leadership Team offers 4-H members and recent 4-H alumni an opportunity to give back to the 4-H program while further enhancing their leadership skills. In addition to planning and leadership roles, teens serve on statewide committees and boards including the Illinois 4-H Foundation Board of Directors and the Illinois Farm Bureau Youth Education Committee.  To learn more about leadership programming in Illinois 4-H, please visit the website.

About Illinois 4-H: Illinois 4-H is the flagship youth development program of University of Illinois Extension and administered through the College of Agriculture, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences. 4-H grows true leaders, youth who are empowered for life today and prepared for a career tomorrow. The hands-on approach in 4-H gives young people guidance, tools, and encouragement, and then puts them in the driver’s seat to make great things happen. Independent research confirms the unparalleled impact of the 4-H experience, demonstrating that young people are four times more likely to contribute to their communities; two times more likely to make healthier choices; two times more likely to be civically active; and two times more likely to participate in STEM programs. 

About Extension: 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. 

Source: Katie Duitsman, University of Illinois Extension 4-H Youth Development Specialist, pilcher3@illinois.edu
Writer: Carissa Nelson, Media Communications Manager, 4-H State Office, carissa7@illinois.edu