Illinois 4-H volunteers empower and prepare youth for success as the program relies on its more than 15,000 volunteers to fill key leadership and mentoring roles.  Longtime volunteers and former staff members were recently honored by the Illinois 4-H Foundation for their selfless dedication to the University of Illinois Extension 4-H youth development program.

In 2021, 71 individuals received the Foundation Hall of Fame Award, presented during a virtual ceremony on Aug. 17.  Four of the honorees are being named posthumously.

The Illinois 4-H Foundation established the statewide Hall of Fame in 2005 to honor and celebrate extraordinary 4-H alumni, volunteers, and former 4-H staff. Those inducted have a track record of exemplary service to 4-H or outstanding career and community achievement and were nominated by either county University of Illinois Extension staff or by the Illinois 4-H Foundation Board. Each inductee receives a commemorative Hall of Fame medallion.

“These volunteers are a model of 4-H values,” says Angie Barnard, Illinois 4-H Foundation executive director. “All of our volunteers are valuable, but this award honors those that go above and beyond. These are volunteers that helped shape not only individuals but generations of 4-H members. The Illinois 4-H Foundation is extremely proud to be able to provide this honor to thank them for their service to this wonderful organization.

Illinois 4-H programs reach nearly 120,000 youth each year through 4-H clubs, camps, educational programs, workshops, and conferences held in communities, schools, parks, and homes across Illinois. Volunteers fill key leadership and mentoring roles throughout the state.

“Many volunteers have a tradition of 4-H in their family or were 4-H members themselves,” Barnard says. “More and more though, adults brand new to the 4-H experience is seeing the value of the life skills development program and volunteering for the first time. 4-H has volunteer opportunities that fit such a wide variety of time, skills, and talents.”

To volunteer in your community, one may request information from the local Extension office. “There is a place for everyone in 4-H, whether you have an hour or a lifetime to give,” Barnard says.

The 2021 Hall of Fame winners from Champaign, Ford, Iroquois, and Vermilion Counties are:

Champaign County: Ms. Loretta Stoerger of Sadorus.

Loretta Stoerger became a 22-year leader of the Sadorus Handy Kids 4-H Club so her children and grandchildren would have an opportunity to be in 4-H. Her club members did many local community service projects. For many years, Loretta was the Superintendent for Visual Arts at the Champaign County 4-H Club-A-Rama (4-H General Shows) and Superintendent for the Champaign County 4-H Poultry Shows. She encouraged all 4-H exhibitors and praised their work regardless of the ribbon the 4-Her received. She was an active member of the Champaign County 4-H council for several years. She believes in the 4-H program that allows members to select projects that interest the member and expand their knowledge of it, thorough 4-H meetings learn teamwork, leadership, public speaking, and parliamentary procedure, to increase members' confidence by exhibiting projects, learning by doing, and help others by doing community service projects.

Ford County: Mrs. Leanne Wright of Gibson City.

Leanne Wright, a 4-H alumna of the Trailblazers 4-H Club, has had kids involved in Ford County 4-H since 2004. Her commitment to 4-H stems from the fun, friendships and positive impact that 4-H has on youth. Leanne has served as a 4-H Leader of the Prairie Fire 4-H Club since 2011 and is also an active member of the Ford-Iroquois 4-H Foundation. During 4-H show week you’ll find her helping with General Projects and assisting in the Swine Barn, where her husband serves as the Superintendent. Leanne believes in the 4-H program and knows that the experiences youth receive will create lasting impressions.

Iroquois County: Mrs. Roxanne Adsit of Wellington.

Roxanne was a 9 year 4-H member of the Milford Wide Awake Girls 4-H club, her sons were 4-H members and now her grandson is a 1st year 4-H’er. As a member, she enjoyed taking projects to the fair. She said giving talks and demonstrations helped her with public speaking because she was shy. She loved attending 4-H camps and had her bags packed many weeks prior. With her 4-H experiences, as a volunteer, she can encourage 4-Hers by telling them all the fun things she did as a 4-H’er and what life skills 4-H gave her. She still loves being part of the "4-H family". Roxanne was a 28-year leader of the Milford Sugar Creek 4-H Club, was a longtime member of the Ford-Iroquois Youth committee, and a member of the Ford-Iroquois 4-H Foundation. She has served several offices within these committees. She is always willing to volunteer, especially during our 4-H Auction, which provides funding for the Ford-Iroquois 4-H programs.

Vermilion County: Denise Lambert of Georgetown.

Denise has been a leader of the Jamaica Flatlanders 4-H Club and has served as the Goat Superintendent on the Vermilion County 4-H Livestock Committee for 7 years. She was never a 4-H member herself, but supported her two sons through their 4-H careers. Denise always goes above and beyond to make sure Vermilion County 4-H'ers have a great experience. Even though her own children have aged out, she continues to be a valuable asset to the program.

“The Foundation provides avenues to support the work of Illinois 4-H by accepting financial gifts specifically directed to the program you wish to support,” Barnard said. “Gift planning services are available to those wishing to continue their 4-H legacy.”

The Illinois 4-H Foundation raises private funds that are invested in Illinois 4-H programs that provide meaningful, positive development experiences for Illinois youth to develop leadership, citizenship, and life skills. To learn more, visit: 4hfoundation.illinois.edu.
 

For Further Information Contact:

News Source: Angie Barnard, Illinois 4-H Foundation Executive Director, 217-333-0333

News Writer: Carissa Nelson, 4-H Media Communications Manager, carissa7@illinois.edu

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.