Foundation awards $45,000 in 4-H youth scholarships

URBANA, Ill. – The career achievements of Illinois 4-H members were celebrated at a virtual ceremony April 10 where $45,000 in scholarships were awarded by the Illinois 4-H Foundation. With the unique circumstances of this past year, the award recipients overcame many challenges on the way to these achievements.

“This was a year that none of us could have imagined, and these young men and women did not allow even a global pandemic get in the way of achieving their goals," says Lisa Diaz, University of Illinois Extension assistant dean and 4-H director. "In fact, we saw the opposite; these 4-H youth pivoted, innovated, and rose to the occasion in a way that surpassed any and all of our expectations." 

The Illinois 4-H Foundation raises private and corporate funds to support the Illinois 4-H program.  “We are so lucky to have such a strong network of donors that deeply value education,” says Angie Barnard, Foundation executive director.

“These youth have demonstrated the 4-H spirit of service, dedication, and resilience throughout this past year,” says Diaz. “As new challenges presented themselves, they stepped up to rise to the occasion. These awards celebrate hard work and goals being attained.”

The celebration video aired April 10 for family and friends to enjoy. One may view the winners’ biographies on the 4-H awards website.

State 4-H Award Winners
Forty-five young adults were chosen as scholarship winners in one of nine divisions of the State 4-H Award. Each winner receives a $1,000 scholarship.

The Animal Sciences award recognizes youth who have demonstrated and maintained a high standard of 4-H excellence and mastery in their animal science projects. This award was sponsored by Dee Murray, George Obernagel, Keith and Lissa Parr, and Mark and Lee Ann Gossett. The winners are:

  • Delaney Smith, Champaign County
  • Katelyn Engel, Knox County
  • Sara Timm, Marion County
  • Lauren Mohr, McLean County
  • Skye Schumaker, McLean County

The Civil Engagement & Global Living award recognizes youth that have focused on 4-H work in service to/for others. This award is sponsored by Nann Armstrong, Tim and Belinda Carey, Kevin and Kari Carey, and Ron and Melanie Warfield. The winners are:

  • Annabelle Schaffnit, Adams County
  • Brayden Caraynoff-Huber, Kendall County
  • Emma Seiboldt, Knox County
  • Megan Eppel, Lake County
  • Caroline Ahrends, Logan County

The Creative & Performing Arts & Communications award recognizes youth that have focused their 4-H work on the arts and the art of communicating with others. This award is sponsored by Dee Murray and Janice Seitz. The winners are: 

  • Leah Rossi, Grundy County
  • Grace Schumacher, Effingham County
  • Emily Reppy, Kendall County
  • Sydney Reppy, Kendall County
  • Natalie Nelson, Knox County

The Food Systems award focuses on youth who have focused on food production, processing, distribution, and access. This award is sponsored by Dee Murray, Evelyn Brandt Thomas, Larry Hageman, and Ray and Patricia Brownfield. The winners are:

  • Dylan Zwilling, Champaign County
  • Blake Twenhafel, Clinton County
  • Elaan Bader, Montgomery County
  • Emma Salverson, Peoria County
  • Sarah Stevens, Peoria County

The Healthy Living & Nutrition award focuses on youth who are helping their communities make healthy decisions and lead healthy lifestyles. This award is sponsored by Pat Clickener, Donna Mueller, and Kevin and Janette Rhoades. The winners are:

  • Erin Kistner, Montgomery County
  • Lauren Shae Jackson, Shelby County
  • Aiden Stahl, Tazewell County
  • Logan Wheeler, Whiteside County
  • Audra Spielman, Will County

The Leadership award recognizes youth that have focused on the development of leadership skills, including offices held, committees served on, programs led, and public presentations given on behalf of 4-H. This award is sponsored by Pat Clickener, Donna Mueller, Brian and Kristin Devermann, and Dan Kelley. The winners are:

  • Aja Capel, Champaign County
  • Braylee Gilmore, Macoupin County
  • Savannah Meadows, Massac County
  • Carina Engst, McLean County
  • Sheridan Hank, Mercer County

The Natural Resources & Environmental Science award recognizes youth who have focused on environmental stewardship. This award was sponsored by Dee Murray, Sharon and Art Tenhouse, Mark and MaryAnn Kaufman, Walter Lynn, and Colleen Callahan-Burns. The winners are: 

  • Saulius Malik, Cook County
  • Dalton Wachter, JoDaviess County
  • DJ Cain, Knox County
  • Cavit Schempp, Logan County
  • Victoria Zwilling, Richland County

The Personal Growth award recognizes youth that have focused on personal growth through their participation in the 4-H program. This award is sponsored by Pat Clickener, Dave and Lisa McMurtry, and Janice Seitz. The winners are:

  • Justin Irwin, Boone County
  • Averhy Sanborn, Champaign County
  • Reagan Parks, McLean County
  • Kendall Knodle, Montgomery County
  • Ruthie Ruhl, Logan County

The STEM & Robotics award recognizes youth who have focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. This award was sponsored by the Lisa Woessner Memorial 4-H Science and Technology Award endowment, Donna Mueller, Dee Murray, and Landon Frye. The winners are:

  • Nickole Ryan, Boone County
  • Evan Schmitz, Champaign County
  • Michelle Wang, Jackson County
  • Willem Vandermeij, Kane County
  •  Julian Heidrich, Kendall County

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, 4-H Leadership Youth Development Extension Specialist,

Writer:  Carissa Nelson, Media Communications Manager, 4-H State Office,