Extraordinary volunteers inducted into Illinois 4-H Hall of Fame including from Rock Island, Mercer and Stark counties

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 honored by the Illinois 4-H Foundation for their selfless dedication to the University of Illinois Extension 4-H youth development program.

On August 17, 2021, 71 individuals received the Foundation Hall of Fame Award during a virtual ceremony. Among the honorees were Melinda Simpson of Hillsdale, Ill representing Rock Island County, Jim Mayhew of New Windsor, Ill representing Mercer County and Alan Curry of Toulon, Ill representing Stark County.  “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.

During the virtual ceremony our region’s volunteers were recognized for their service to the program:

Melinda Simpson has dedicated her time ensuring 4-H members have a tremendous experience. Each year you can find her at a wide variety of 4-H events, including the 4-H horse show helping kids learn their patterns or assisting in the announcers' stand. She has been an active long-time leader with the Buccaneers 4-H Club and is also a loyal member of the Rock Island County Extension & 4-H Education Foundation board.

Jim Mayhew influenced many 4-H members over the years with his swine expertise – a good number of whom have gone on to have careers in the swine industry. Jim is a quiet leader who leads by example, compassion and sincerity and has taught 4-H members that difficult decisions must be fair and all-inclusive.

Alan Curry represents the best of 4-H in all aspects of his life. He brings together a personal history with 4-H; Both from his time as a member, and as a long-time leader. He never fails to champion the 4-H program and the youth of Stark County and is always willing to support to the program in big and small ways.

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.

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 are 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 Henry, Mercer, Rock Island and Stark Counties Extension 4-H educator Jennifer Peterson who can be reached by phone at  and by email jpetersn@illinois.edu  “There is a place for everyone in 4-H, whether you have an hour or a lifetime to give,” Barnard says.

“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