Illinois 4-H staff honored for professional dedication, service

4-H award winners
Four University of Illinois 4-H youth development educators were recently honored by the Association of Extension 4-H Youth Development Professionals at its annual meeting in Memphis. Pictures, left to right, Johnna Jennings, Jamie Boas, Alcha Corban, and Martha Ebbesmeyer. Photos by NAE4HYDP

MEMPHIS, TN –  Four University of Illinois Extension 4-H youth development staff received national recognition at the National Association of Extension 4-H Youth Development Professionals National Conference held in November in Memphis, Tenn. Service award honorees include Johnna Jennings, Jamie Boas, Alcha Corban, and Martha Ebbesmeyer.

The conference, a 75-year tradition, strengthens programing efforts and recognizes state and national 4-H youth development professionals. Service award winners are recognized for significant accomplishments in various stages of their career and for contributions to the 4-H youth development profession. Meritorious winners have 15 years or more service to Extension. Distinguished winners have seven or more years of service. Achievement in Service winners have tenure of three to seven years. 

Johnna Jennings received the Meritorious Service Award and was honored for 25 years of service to Illinois Extension. Jennings began her Extension career in 1988 and currently serves as 4-H youth development educator for Boone, DeKalb, and Ogle counties. She focuses her 4-H programming efforts on volunteer development, chick incubation and embryology, hands-on science, healthy living, and teen leadership. 

Jamie Boas, Extension 4-H youth development educator for DeWitt, Macon, and Piatt counties, received the Distinguished Service Award. Boas has recruited, trained, and mentored over 200 4-H teen teachers who have, in turn, taught lessons related to agriculture, nutrition and cooking, and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math). She brought the 4-H Food Challenge to Illinois where it is used broadly across the state. Boas challenges all youth she works with to find their spark in 4-H. 

Alcha Corban, Extension 4-H youth development educator for Livingston and Woodford counties and the Unity Community Center received the Achievement in Service Award. Corban says her mission is to empower youth to discover their passions, achieve their goals, and give back to their communities through 4-H programs that promote personal growth, team building, leadership, and service-learning opportunities.

Martha Ebbesmeyer provides positive youth development opportunities for youth in Carroll, Lee, and Whiteside counties. As Extension 4-H youth development educator, Ebbesmeyer trains 4-H volunteers and mentors four youth staff members. Her programming expertise includes youth gardening, teen leadership, 4-H camp counselor training, and healthy living programming.

The National Association of Extension 4-H Youth Development Professionals promotes, strengthens, enhances, and advocates for the 4-H youth development profession. It is an internationally recognized non-profit, non-partisan association of professional youth development educators. NAE4-HYDP is one of the largest professional associations for youth development workers with a diverse membership of nearly 4,000 youth development professionals.


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,