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Illinois teen leaders ready to tackle healthy living issues

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Bethesda, MD. – Teen health leaders from across the country gathered at the National 4-H Summit for Healthy Living April 21-24 to focus on learning about and solving healthy living issues impacting homes, communities, and economies.

Four teens were chosen to represent Illinois at the conference as 4-H Healthy Living Teen Ambassadors. This year’s delegation included: Olivia Clover, Union County; Naomi Dolan, Richland County; Alana Dolan, Richland County; and Victoria Zwilling, Richland County.

“The youth that were selected have spent the past year investing in supporting healthy living programming locally, and in some cases across the state, as Healthy Living Ambassadors and Teen Teachers,” says Pat McGlaughlin, University of Illinois Extension 4-H youth development specialist.

Designed for grades 9 through 12, the Summit provides the opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills to address today’s issues facing nutrition education, physical fitness, wellness, and emotional well-being.

“This was a fantastic opportunity to meet new people, increase my knowledge about health, and learn how to make positive changes in the world,” says delegate Victoria Zwilling of Richland County. “I loved talking to kids from the other states and territories about how they are helping people in their communities live healthier lives.”

Four youth in polos pose and smile
Pictured left to right: Victoria Zwilling, Alana Dolan, Naomi Dolan, Olivia Clover

Summit topics included career preparation and networking, educational workshops, community action plan development, community service projects, Washington, D.C. field trips, and a state showcase of 4-H agriculture and STEM programs.

“My favorite part was the workshops,” says Victoria. “The presenters gave me lots of ideas to apply in my life and my community. I learned about mindfulness, forming healthy relationships, ways to make exercising fun, and new recipes to try from around the world. The Healthy Living Summit is an opportunity I would recommend to anyone who is passionate about helping others live healthier lives.”

This event was sponsored in part by Illinois Extension and funded by the Wal-Mart Foundation.

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: Susan Sloop, University of Illinois Extension Youth Development Educator,

WRITER: Carissa Nelson, 4-H Media Communications Manager, University of Illinois Extension,