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Outstanding Illinois 4-H teens selected as national delegates

congress delegates pose around a congress sign

ATLANTA, GA -- Ten teens from Illinois attended a five-day national conference in Atlanta, GA designed to expand their skills, engage with other 4-H members, and provide inspiration. Delegates to National 4-H Congress are selected on their outstanding 4-H accomplishments.

National 4-H Congress is an educational event designed to make an impact as one of the premier experiences 4-H members across the country can come together and participate in.

The 2022 delegation included Ojas Shah of McLean County, Johnathan Tauchen of Lake County, Braden May of Massac County, Caleb Zwilling of Champaign County, Ashleigh Janssen of Tazewell County, Emma Hughes of Montgomery County, Shandre Willoughby of McLean County, Elaan Bader of Montgomery County, Saralynn Joiner of Macoupin County, and Lillian Frazee of Sangamon County.

Teens attended educational workshops focused on diversity, cultural experiences, leadership, team development and network with 4-H members from across the United States. They also have the opportunity to listen to and learn from nationally recognized speakers.

“My favorite workshop was Be The Change as it really taught be the true definition of service learning,” says delegate Ojas Shah of Champaign County. “It was really inspiring to hear all the work the facilitator has done to fight hunger.”

National opportunities allow 4-H members to build on their leadership abilities and bring back new skills that will help them make an impact in their club, community, country, and world.

“One thing I’m going to take back to my county is we always need plenty of ice breakers,” says delegate Saralynn Joiner of Macoupin County. “There have been a lot of great ones to learn from here at 4-H Congress.”

The Illinois 4-H Foundation and Nann Armstrong provided support for this trip.

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. 

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. 

Source:   Katie Duitsman, 4-H Youth Development Specialist,

Writers:  Carissa Nelson, Media Communications Manager,; Megan Eppel, Youth Leadership Team Social Chair, Lake County