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Illinois youth attend first 4-H post-high school success conference

Road Trip attendees look at a presenter.

URBANA, Ill. — Over 140 eighth through 12th graders from across Illinois headed to the Illini Union on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus for a 4-H College and Career Road Trip. This dynamic conference was aimed at preparing Illinois youth for the journey into higher education and future careers and finding out just what success can look like after high school. Through engaging workshops and exposure to State 4-H opportunities, participants gained valuable insights and skills to navigate their paths successfully.

“I was thrilled to see our youth engaging with such enthusiasm and curiosity about their future paths.,” says Illinois Extension 4-H youth development specialist Cindy Ogwal. “Our mission was clear: to empower them with options beyond traditional college routes, including the trades, military service, and rewarding careers like firefighting and teaching through programs like Golden Apple.”

Attendees had the chance to explore various aspects of college readiness, career exploration, and personal development, guided by expert presenters and representatives from a range of institutions and organizations, including East Central IL Building & Construction Trades Council, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Illinois Fire Service Institute-University of Illinois, United Prairie, ETI School of Skilled Trades, Golden Apple Foundation, University of Illinois Springfield, Chicago State University, Southern Illinois Edwardsville, Greenville University, Northern Illinois University, United States Army, United Medical Response, LLC, Equip for Equality, Midwest Technical Institute, Indiana University Bloomington, Millikin University, Galesburg Fire Department, Illinois Student Assistance Commission.

“Witnessing their eagerness to explore and navigate the diverse workshops offered validates the need for such initiatives.,” says Ogwal. “I'm proud to say that not only did they embrace the opportunity, but they also formed meaningful connections with each other along the way. This event truly exemplifies the power of empowering youth to shape their own futures."

Workshop topics spanned a diverse array of subjects tailored to different interests and grade levels, including entrepreneurship, business, fashion, agriculture, financial literacy, and more. Expert presenters guided participants through interactive sessions aimed at empowering them to make informed decisions about their future.

The full list of workshops included: The Making of an Entrepreneur, All About the Business, Rockin’ the Runway: Dressing for Success in Current Culture, Gear into Precision Planting, Career Pro's Declassified Resume Writing Survival Guide, Build Your Future Workshop, Welcome to the Real World (Financial Literacy for Teens), College Quest- HBCU Experience, The Financial Aid Process, College Jeopardy, and Where in the World will your Career take you?

Those who wish to learn more about college and career programming in their county may contact their local Extension Office. 

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. 

For Further Information, Contact:

Source: Cindy Ogwal, 4-H Youth Development Specialist, College & Career Readiness,

Writer:  Carissa Nelson, Media Communications Manager,

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 Extension is part of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.