The expansion of youth science programming in northern Illinois has earned an Illinois Extension 4-H youth educator national recognition. Donna Nuger receives the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents Distinguished Service Award and will be honored at a ceremony Nov. 7 at the group’s national meeting.

Nuger serves families in Kane, Kendall, and DuPage counties where her work in science, technology, and engineering programs has expanded 4-H participation. Working with more than 15 partner organizations, 4-H robotics clubs flourished, reaching more than 400 youth a year. Nuger guides 4-H Science Ambassadors who teach peers in a range of topics, from soil conservation and environmental science to biology and aerospace engineering. She led a group of teens to the National Ag Innovators Conference in Washington D.C. and then mentored the group for a yearlong program teaching soil conservation to hundreds of their peers.

“Donna’s attitude of making things possible, her ability to think creatively to solve problems, and her genuine belief in the capabilities of others is always evident,” said Christina Heidrich, 4-H parent and volunteer. “Donna has the unique ability to connect and understand people and somehow extract and elevate the essence of who they are through conversation, activities, assignment, and mentorship.”

Donna began her Extension career in 2004 as the University of Illinois Extension 4-H youth educator for Kankakee County.