Skip to main content

Teen leaders showcase leadership, speaking skills at State Capitol

Teen leaders gaze at House floor.

Springfield, IL – Nearly 40 Illinois 4-H teens put their leadership skills to the test as they communicated the value and impact of Illinois 4-H with state legislators as a part of 4-H Legislative Connection on Feb. 7 and 8, and May 16 and 17. 

4-H Legislative Connection provides 4-H members a unique opportunity to learn about the state legislative process and meet with elected officials.  Participants included youth ages 14-19 from Illinois 4-H Youth Leadership Team and those members who have completed Speaking for Illinois 4-H training.

“The Legislative Connection is a wonderful way for youth to share their stories about their 4-H experiences and activities directly with their legislators,” says Shelly Nickols-Richardson, University of Illinois Extension director and associate dean. “4-H youth gain communication and civic engagement skills and work together in teams to convey the value of 4-H positive youth development to individuals who make policy decisions for the state.”

Legislative Connection provides Illinois 4-H teens a unique opportunity to promote the Illinois 4-H program to elected state officials and learn about the state legislative process. Youth share their personal 4-H stories with legislators and discuss the benefits of 4-H and local University of Illinois Extension programming in their home communities. 

“The 4-H youth that attend the Legislative Connection events are our leaders of the future. The youth that attend are fully engaged and committed to learning about the legislative process and attend because they are passionate about civic involvement,” says Carl Baker, University of Illinois Extension government relations assistant director.

Youth book appointments with state leaders and communicate the value and impact of 4-H using persuasive public speaking techniques along with data and examples as they tell their 4-H story to legislators.

"Last year House Bill 3814, had bipartisan support that would allow 4-H and FFA students absence from school to participate in competitions and exhibitions,” says Baker. “The students are not marked as absent and the school get to count the students as being in their seats for their daily per pupil spending. House Bill 3814 passed both chambers unanimously and signed into law by Governor Pritzker. The youth attending Legislative Connection are demonstrating the value of 4-H to them and their fellow 4-Hers, and their communities back home.”

Those wishing to know more about the event may visit the Legislative Connection webpage.

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. 

For Further Information, Contact:

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.