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Illinois 4-H staff honored with national service awards

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MADISON, Wis. – Three University of Illinois Extension 4-H Youth Development staff recently received national recognition from the National Association of Extension 4-H Youth Development Professionals (NAE4-HYDP). Amy Henschen, Shelby Carlson, and Myla Munro were honored with service awards.

NAE4-HYDP is the professional's organization for those dedicated to promoting, strengthening, enhancing, and advocating for the 4-H youth development profession and is one of the largest professional associations for youth development workers with a diverse membership of nearly 4,000 youth development professionals.

Service award winners are recognized for significant accomplishments in various stages of a career and for contributions to the 4-H Youth Development profession.

Amy Henschen, a State 4-H youth development specialist received a Distinguished Service Award for her eight years of service in both Colorado and Illinois. A few highlights from Henschen’s career include developing an award-winning, low-cost youth robotics program in response to community needs, along with an online robotics video curriculum and resource series to build volunteer and staff capacity.

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Amy Henschen

Through grant funding, she was able to launch a low-cost state robotics competition as part of this effort. In addition, she created targeted recruitment efforts for underserved audiences and presented on this work nationally at the NAE4-HYDP Conference in 2017 and she serves on the NAE4-HYDP Diversity, Equity & Inclusion committee. Educators who have served more than seven years in youth development roles are eligible for Distinguished Service Awards

Myla Munro, a 4-H youth development educator serving Champaign, Ford, Iroquois, and Vermilion counties and Shelby Carlson, a 4-H youth development educator serving Henderson, Knox, McDonough, and Warren Counties both received Achievement of Service Awards.  Educators who have served three to seven years in youth development roles are eligible for this award.

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Myla Munro

In order to help youth make healthy food choices, learn about food safety, and foster life skills such as teamwork, public speaking, and leadership, Munro partnered with an educational cooperative to host a regional 4-H Food Challenge to six area high schools. These school represented three counties and the Challenge reached more than 230 high school students. Munro also created the Ag Discovery program to allow youth to explore agriculture through science. Utilizing her contacts within the College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) and in the Agricultural Education program, Munro recruited three college students to teach a 4-H college and career readiness curriculum.

Carlson was able to use her skills to adapt and re-format college and career readiness and livestock programming during the pandemic to continue to reach 4-H youth virtually and to expand reach to new youth. Carlson has also partnered with other Illinois 4-H staff to create the STEP Up with 4-H guide, using FEMA's STEP program in a 4-H setting. Carlson also serves as a Youth Mental Health First Aid Trainer as part of the Rural Farm and Ranch Assistance Network.

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Shelby Carlson

Award recipients were honored at the National Association of Extension 4-H Youth Development Professionals National Conference in October.

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. 

WRITER: Carissa Nelson, Media Communications Manager,