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New Illinois 4-H team empowers youth voices, promotes skill development

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Urbana, Ill. – Seven Illinois teens have joined the first-ever Illinois 4-H Influencer Team. This team is tasked with promoting 4-H to statewide audiences and providing valuable experiential marketing support as they cover events in the field.

“We’re so excited to help youth gain expertise in communications through hands-on experiences,” says team co-lead, University of Illinois 4-H media communications manager Carissa Nelson. “Giving youth a strong portfolio of work will really help them try a future social media career on for size.”

Youth ages 14-19 were able to apply. Team requirements include assisting with coverage in their home counties and at state and national events and providing a strong youth presence at State Fair.

“A youth influencer team is a trendy and innovative way to empower youth voices, develop leadership and promote skill development,” says team co-lead, University of Illinois Extension 4-H youth development educator Latosha Reggans. “I am confident that this group of young people will thrive in their roles using their influencer’s platform to promote 4-H and engage the social media community by sharing the 4-H mission, program experiences, and impact.”

Members of the 2023-2024 team include: Annabelle Schaffnit, Adams County; Bailey Callahan, Rock Island County; Eesha Sukhavasi, Peoria County; Janella Neary, Monroe County; Mackenzie Goff, Knox County; Sophia Schneider, Logan County; and Elaan Bader, Montgomery County.

Youth will also be responsible for creating content that will be featured on the state social media pages.

“We’re so excited for the passion and energy the team will bring to content creation,” says Nelson. “The best way to reach youth is through youth-created content, and based on the application materials youth submitted, we have a lot to be excited about.”

New members will be chosen yearly for one-year terms. This team will mark the fifth statewide leadership team opportunity for 4-H youth. To learn more about leadership opportunities, please visit our Teen Leadership page.

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. 

Source:  Latosha Reggans, 4-H Youth Development Educator, 

Writer:  Carissa Nelson, Media Communications Manager, 4-H State Office,

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.