Central Illinois Unity Community Center cultivates healthy youth with new 4-H Educator

URBANA, Ill. – Illinois 4-H strives to unlock the potential in every young person, helping them to dream, plan, design, build, and achieve. Around the state, University of Illinois Extension 4-H youth development staff are guiding the next generation of leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs.

In August, Jeffrey Pegram joined Illinois Extension as a 4-H youth development educator serving Livingston, McLean, and Woodford counties in Central Illinois. He will develop programs and become a resource for youth through the Unity Community Center in Normal.

“I am very excited that we were able to bring on Dr. Jeffrey Pegram as the Unity Community Center Educator,” says Extension County Director Bobbie Lewis-Sibley. “His background and international experience are perfect for advancing 4-H and Illinois Extension programs to the diverse audience and community of the Unity Center and surrounding area.”

The Unity Community Center is a multicultural center that provides after-school and summer programming for youth from families with limited resources.

Pegram comes to Illinois 4-H with a background in international and domestic art education. He holds a B.A. in Visual Art from Morehouse College, a M.A. in Art Education from The University of Iowa, and a Ph.D. in Education Policy from The University of Maryland-College Park with a concentration in Sociological & Philosophical Foundations of Education.

He hopes to continue building the Unity Community Center into a resource and outlet that allows everyone to explore and reimagine what they wish to become.

“Since 4-H is about cultivating healthy youth, it’s just as important to attend to the formation and quality of life in their neighborhoods,” Pegram says. “Think of it like intergenerational 4-H for the entire community. If you’re a part of the community then there’s a place for you there.”

Prior to joining Extension, he worked as a K to 12 art educator and Administrator in China and in the United Arab Emirates. Before his time abroad, Jeffrey taught visual art in Iowa, served as a coordinator of undergraduate research and as an ESL instructor at community colleges in North Carolina and New Jersey, and held various roles as an Assistant Professor of Education at Hartwick College in upstate New York. 

Pegram grew up on the land of the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation in Durham, N.C. He is an artist, educator, and minister whose interdisciplinary interests include the moral lives of children, a pedagogy of play, and education for democratic citizenship.

Pegram is based in the McLean County Extension office and can be reached at jkpegram@illinois.edu or (309) 862-4041.

Extension educators and specialists connect every county in Illinois with university research through in-person and distance-learning programming and other educational outreach. They work to provide businesses, families, and agricultural producers with the practical tools and resources needed to solve problems.

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.

ILLINOIS 4-H is the flagship youth development program of University of Illinois Extension. 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.