Skip to main content

McLean County youth named national award winner

avani rai and youth in action logo

WASHINGTON, DC  — National 4-H Council today announced the winners of the 2024 Youth In Action Awards, a national program sponsored by Bayer that recognizes four diverse young leaders who have made a positive impact in their communities. McLean County 4-H youth, Avani Rai, 17, was named a 2024 Pillar Winner.

The winners will each receive a $5,000 higher education scholarship and spend 2024 inspiring other youth by telling their 4-H story. In addition, they will have opportunities to showcase their work nationally, network with prominent 4‑H alumni, and serve as official 4-H spokespeople for Youth in Action.

The announcement was made during National 4-H Week, held October 1-7, 2023 to celebrate and showcase the opportunities and impact that 4‑H offers young people across the country.

After witnessing the shortcomings of addressing food insecurity in her community at a young age, Avani became an integral part of 4-H’s Food Advocacy Team, a youth-led initiative to improve equitable access to healthy foods and champion food security. Avani and team organized healthy food drives, meal packaging events, and educated others through community seminars.

Avani later expanded her service to overall healthy living, including mental and physical health through yoga. Reaching all elementary schools in her district, Avani’s ‘Super Yoga’ curriculum has been shared with more than 1,300 children. She has also served on the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s USDA-Sponsored Local Food Purchase committee and spoke on a roundtable alongside Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff and White House Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice at the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health.

“The 2024 Youth in Action Awards honor four incredible young people, each of whom are model examples of their generation – embodying a commitment to service, a love of their communities and a passion for leadership that represent the best of 4-H,” said Jill Bramble, President & CEO, National 4-H Council. “We are proud that Cooperative Extension’s 4-H programs have offered Katie, Amiyah, Reed, and Avani these opportunities to lead and tools to succeed, which they have used to make a positive impact on their communities and inspire other 4-H’ers to do the same.”

The 4-H Youth in Action Awards, sponsored in part by Bayer, began in 2010 to recognize young people who overcome challenges and use the knowledge they gain through participation in 4-H to create a lasting impact in their community.

To learn more about Youth in Action and view the other winners and finalists, please visit the National 4-H website.

About 4-H:
4-H, the nation’s largest youth development organization, grows confident young people who are empowered for life today and prepared for careers tomorrow. 4-H programs empower nearly six million young people across the U.S. through experiences that develop critical life skills. 4-H is the youth development program of our nation’s Cooperative Extension System and USDA and serves every county and parish in the U.S. through a network of 110 public universities and more than 3000 local Extension offices. Globally, 4-H collaborates with independent programs to empower one million youth in 50 countries. The research-backed 4-H experience grows young people who 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. Learn more about 4‑H at and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

About Bayer:

Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the Life Science fields of healthcare and agriculture. Its products and services are designed to benefit people and improve their quality of life. At the same time, the Group aims to create value through innovation, growth, and high earning power. Bayer is committed to the principles of sustainable development and to its social and ethical responsibilities as a corporate citizen. In fiscal 2015, the Group employed around 117,000 people and had sales of EUR 46.3 billion. Capital expenditures amounted to EUR 2.6 billion, R&D expenses to EUR 4.3 billion. These figures include those for the high-tech polymers business, which was floated on the stock market as an independent company named Covestro on October 6, 2015. For more information, go to

Media Contact: Sunshine Sachs, Morgan & Lylis,

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.