The Illinois 4-H Key Award recognizes youth leaders who mentor and serve their community. Eight 4-H teens were honored as award recipients at a ceremony Oct. 5 in Champaign. The award is sponsored by the H. Richard and Sarah F. McFarland Endowed 4-H Youth Leadership and Character Development Support Fund through the Illinois 4-H Foundation.

The late Richard McFarland was a 4-H and University of Illinois alum who experienced tremendous success in the food industry, agriculture, and real estate; and he shared the fruits of that success with the organizations he treasured, said Angie Barnard, Illinois 4-H Foundation Executive Director.

“When it comes to professional achievement, Dick believed that character and leadership development were just as valuable as formalized classroom education,” Barnard said. “Not only did he model entrepreneurial success, but he also made sure that Illinois 4-H youth and College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences students were afforded opportunities to build a similar path.”

Each year, 4-H members who exemplify the traits he admired receive the 4-H Key Award. This year’s winners include Hannah Barger, Pope County; Emma Behrens, McHenry County; Lindy Couch, Henry county; Julian Heidrich, Kendall County; Erin Kistner, Montgomery County; Sowmya Monroe, Winnebago County; Ashton Stipp, Livingston County; and Nalia Warmack, Grundy County.

“Our awardees embody the true spirit of 4-H, having made a difference not only in their communities, but also Illinois and the nation,” said Lisa Diaz, U of I Extension assistant dean and director of Illinois 4-H.

photo key award winners