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Illinois 4-H builds expertise in agriculture and career development with two new educators


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 January, Illinois Extension welcomed two new 4-H youth development educators, Grace Margherio and Jaylynn Schober.

Margherio is a 4-H youth development educator for the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Food, Agriculture, and Nutrition Innovation Center in East St. Louis. Extension in Madison, Monroe, and St. Clair counties is partnering with the JJK FAN Center focusing on college preparedness and expanding food access while shaping experiences for youth in STEAM as well as agriculture, food innovation, and wellness.

“Grace is a valuable contributor to our Extension unit and the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Food, Agriculture, and Nutrition partnership,” says Extension County Director Laquitsha Bejoile-Hayes. “Her focus on food access and green spaces has allowed her to successfully implement engagement projects at the center such as the youth-run Farmer’s Market stand, Seed to Smoothie, and the JJK Winning in Life curriculum.”

Margherio has served as the local food systems and small farms educator on the center project since April 2020. She is passionate about food justice and has spent most of her career in youth programming.

“I have grown to love the youth and staff at the JJK Center, and I am excited to continue building these relationships with the added support from 4-H,” Margherio says. “I hope to provide a welcoming environment for youth to connect to the outdoors and the larger food system as they grow, prepare and distribute food for the community.”

She has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science, and a master’s in Public Health from the University of Missouri. Margherio is based in East St. Louis and can be reached at (618) 875-8939 or

Jaylynn Schober will serve Clark, Crawford, and Edgar counties by providing 4-H programming to youth in Eastern Illinois.

“Jaylynn brings a passion for youth leadership and career readiness which complements our focus areas,” says Extension County Director Stacy Woodyard. “Her background in 4-H clubs will help us continue to support our staff, volunteers, and members.”

Schober looks forward to providing youth encouragement and support as they explore career options and build new relationships.

“I am here to help youth be their best possible selves in whatever capacity 4-H can help – healthy living, mentally, and future careers,” Schober says.

Schober started working with Illinois Extension in 2016 in Coles, Cumberland, Douglas, Moultrie, and Shelby counties. Since then, she has been a 4-H Federation Coordinator and a 4-H program coordinator. She has a Master of Science in Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications.

She is based in the Clark County Extension office in Marshall and can be reached at or (217) 826-5422.

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.