Key Award celebrates youth service and mentoring

The Illinois 4-H Key Award recognizes youth leaders who mentor and serve their community. This year eight 4-H teens were honored with this award. 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. Area winners included, Anne Becker, Morgan 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.

Anne Becker Key Award Morgan County | Agri-Stars, 4-H Federation, Illinois State 4-H Youth Leadership Team

Anne has focused much of her 4-H work on helping others. She chaired the unit food packaging event and coordinated 130 volunteers, which resulted in more than 10,000 meals that were distributed to food pantries. She presented at the Illinois 4-H Hunger Summit. Through her efforts as a hunger ambassador, 120 gallons of milk were donated to the Salvation Army. She helped collect resources for 100 birthday bags for the local woman’s center. She served as the 4-H representative on the Illinois Farm Bureau Youth Education Committee and attended National 4-H Conference. 

“Illinois 4-H is where I learned to be confident in myself and my ability as a leader.”

EDUCATION & CAREER: Anne plans to study agricultural leadership at Oklahoma State University and