New 4-H educator passionate about helping southcentral Illinois youth build life skills

URBANA, Ill. – Illinois 4-H strives to unlock the potential in every young person, helping them to dream, plan, design, build, and achieve. Around the state, University of Illinois Extension 4-H youth development staff guide the next generation of leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs.

In January, Illinois Extension welcomed a familiar face, Samantha Gaither, to serve as 4-H youth development educator in Edwards, Lawrence, Richland, Wabash, and Wayne counties.

“We are very excited to have Samantha as the educator for our 4-H team,” says Tara Buerster, Illinois Extension county director. “She brings several years of experience in 4-H and youth development to help us deliver positive youth programs in our five-county area.”

Gaither will provide leadership to the youth and development program that supports 4-H clubs and special interest groups, as well as educational events in southeastern Illinois. She is looking forward to connecting with local youth and volunteers and expanding opportunities across the five-county unit.

“I hope to provide opportunities for local young people to build life skills with research-based educational programs focused on social-emotional learning, STEM, environmental stewardship, workforce preparation, and positive youth development,” Gaither says.

Gaither first joined Illinois Extension in 2012 as the 4-H program coordinator in Crawford County and later Lawrence County. A 4-H alum, Gaither showed livestock during her time in the program and has continued the 4-H tradition with her two daughters.

Gaither is based in the Lawrence County office and can be reached at or (618) 943-5018.

University of Illinois Extension educators and specialists connect every county in Illinois with university research through in-person and distance-learning programming and other educational outreach. They work to provide businesses, families, and agricultural producers with the practical tools and resources needed to solve problems.

WRITEREmily Steele, Media Communications Coordinator, Illinois Extension

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.

ILLINOIS 4-H is the flagship youth development program of University of Illinois Extension. 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.