Skip to main content

Teens take on new challenges as statewide healthy living ambassadors

young people looking at book

URBANA, Ill. – Nine Illinois teens stand ready to take on new challenges as they begin their work on the 4-H Healthy Living Ambassador (HLA) team.

The HLA team is comprised of 4-H members ages 13-19 who were chosen for their ability to lead, mentor, and teach in order to inspire others to become healthier.  HLA members work to assist with healthy living programs and workshops in their community while developing leadership and collaborative skills as they serve on this statewide team.

“I am already inspired by the youth who have decided to encourage, educate, and advocate for health and wellness through the Healthy Living Ambassador leadership opportunity,” says Susan Sloop, University of Illinois 4-H youth development specialist and team lead. 

Youth are often the influencers in their communities, which is why the 4-H Healthy Living Teen Ambassadors program uses teens to educate other youth and their families about healthy living topics that the ambassadors choose and facilitate.

“The ideas they have generated for workshops in their communities will focus on the area of health and wellness they are passionate about,” says Sloop. “For our ambassadors, mental health, nutrition, mindfulness, and cooking are at the top of their list.”

The 4-H Healthy Living Ambassadors team includes: Dominic Burkett, Williamson County; Olivia Clover, Union County; Emilee Cox, Hamilton County; Alana Dolan, Vermillion County; Naomi Dolan, Vermillion County; Karlee Piercefield, Richland County; Ojas Shah, McLean County; Avani Rai, McLean County; and Victoria Zwilling, Richland County.

Throughout the coming year, the HLA team will not only develop and lead local workshops for youth across the state to learn about healthy living topics but also promote wellness programs on social media. The culminating experience for the year will be an interactive booth at the Illinois State Fair. In addition, members will attend statewide and national events to further develop their skills in leadership, public speaking, and healthy living advocacy.

Kelly Lafferty, 4-H youth development educator from Jo Daviess, Stephenson, and Winnebago counties, will serve as an advisor for the Healthy Living Ambassadors. The HLA program is sponsored by Illinois Extension and funded by the Wal-Mart Foundation.

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:  Susan Sloop, University of Illinois Extension 4-H Youth Development Specialist, Health and Wellness  

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