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Extraordinary Winnebago County volunteer honored

Elizabeth Russo

In 2023, 53 individuals were inducted into the Illinois 4-H Hall of Fame.  Elizabth is the twelfth volunteer to receive this award in Winnebago County, following Kathy Koning- McClure, who received it in 2022.

Illinois 4-H honors and celebrates 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 county University of Illinois Extension staff. Each inductee receives a commemorative Hall of Fame medallion at the Illinois State Fair 4-H Alumni & Volunteer Celebration events.

Elizabeth followed in her mother’s footsteps by becoming a 4-H leader and involving her husband and children in 4-H because she values the opportunities 4-H offers youth.  She says, “I am a 4-H leader because 4-H is a unique program that has opportunities for everyone!  Through 4-H young people can learn about different projects (electricity, cooking, journalism, etc.), attend workshops (public speaking, flower decorating, etc.) attend SPIN clubs (robotics, blacksmithing), camps, leadership conferences, and participate in international exchange programs. Of all the youth programs I know, 4-H has the widest range of activities.  It truly has something for everyone!

What I enjoy the most about being a 4-H leader is watching the members grow and mature.  It is fun to see how excited they become as they participate in new experiences.  And it is rewarding to see them acquire skills they can use for a lifetime and develop into confident leaders.”

Illinois 4-H programs in Winnebago County reach nearly 1700 youth each year through 4-H clubs, camps, educational programs, workshops, and conferences held in communities, schools, parks, and homes. Volunteers fill key leadership and mentoring roles throughout the state.

“Elizabeth is a wonderful example of someone that was raised in the 4-H program and continues to give back to her community, “ states Becky Gocken, Winnebago County 4-H program coordinator.  “We know we can always count on her support both as staff helping with projects, such as 4-H Fun Day and helping judge during our 4-H shows.  She is a vital asset to our county and more than deserving of this recognition.”

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 Extension is part of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.