These members are experiencing all 4-H offers

Illinois 4-H challenges youth to try new things, experiment in project areas that interest them, and explore opportunities around the state and country. 4-H helps young people see themselves as unique, resilient, lifelong learners who actively participate in their own future while improving the communities in which they live. Illinois 4-H recognizes local youth in Unit 18 - serving Christian, Jersey, Macoupin, and Montgomery Counties for their 4-H accomplishments.

“We celebrate youth whose 4-H experiences have expanded outside their home county to the state, national, or international level,” said Lisa Diaz, University of Illinois Extension assistant dean and Illinois 4-H director.

The individual winners in each category include:


Caleb Grover, Christian County; Braylee Gilmore, Macoupin County; Alexandria Helling, Macoupin County; Logan Helling, Macoupin County; Anthony Joiner, Macoupin County; Saralynn Joiner, Macoupin County; Rachel Wolff, Macoupin County; and Emma Hughes, Montgomery County



Gabriel Pauline, Macoupin County; Lucas Wolff, Macoupin County; Erin Kistner, Montgomery County; and Kendall Knodle, Montgomery Country



The Illinois 4-H Foundation provided $25,000 in college scholarships and awarded another $20,000 in national conference travel scholarships this year.

“Our donors are generous and believe that higher education changes lives,” said Angie Barnard, Foundation executive director. Donors include Nann Armstrong, Patricia Clickener, Lila Jeanne Eichelberger, Keith and Lissa Parr, Donna Mueller, Dee Murray, George Obernagel, Legacy of Leadership endowment contributors, LA-CO, Barbara and George Clark, Ryan and Elaine Ruwe, Marvin and Elizabeth Schnitzler, Carrie Francis, Jason and Andrya Smith, Auxiliary to the Illinois State Veterinary Medicine Association and the Illinois 4-H Foundation.

Illinois 4-H Foundation presents the Legacy of Leadership Scholarship to 4-H members who demonstrate and maintain a high standard of 4-H excellence and mastery during their membership tenure. This year’s local winner is Erin Kistner of Montgomery County.

“Our awardees embody the true spirit of 4-H, having made a difference not only in their communities, but also Illinois and the nation,” said Lisa Diaz, University of Illinois Extension assistant dean and director of Illinois 4-H. “We are proud of the dedication, service, and fortitude of the young men and women who have developed through our 4-H programs.”



Twenty-four young adults were also recognized as winners in one of five divisions of the State 4-H Award. Each winner may choose either a $1,000 scholarship or a trip to National 4-H Congress in Atlanta. Two for the seven winners in the personal growth division include Caleb Grover of Christian County and Anthony Joiner of Macoupin County. Project mastery winners include Kendall Knodle of Montgomery County.



The Youth Education Committee of the Illinois Farm Bureau and its affiliates awarded 9 Illinois 4-H members with its Leadership, Citizenship, and Professionalism Award this year. In addition to the award, the winners participate in an elite leadership training. This year’s local winner is Erin Kistner of Montgomery County.



The Illinois 4-H Key Award recognizes youth leaders who mentor and serve their community. This year a local 4-H teen was honored with this award. The award is sponsored by the H. Richard and Sarah F. McFarland Endowed 4-H Youth Leadership and Character Development Support Fund through the Illinois 4-H Foundation.

The late Richard McFarland was a 4-H and University of Illinois alum who experienced tremendous success in the food industry, agriculture, and real estate; and he shared the fruits of that success with the organizations he treasured, said Angie Barnard, Illinois 4-H Foundation Executive Director.

“When it comes to professional achievement, Dick believed that character and leadership development were just as valuable as formalized classroom education,” Barnard said. “Not only did he model entrepreneurial success, but he also made sure that Illinois 4-H youth and College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences students were afforded opportunities to build a similar path.”

Each year, 4-H members who exemplify the traits he admired receive the 4-H Key Award. This year’s local winner is Anthony Joiner of Macoupin County.

“Our awardees embody the true spirit of 4-H, having made a difference not only in their communities, but also Illinois and the nation,” said Lisa Diaz, U of I Extension assistant dean and director of Illinois 4-H.


About our Winners:


Caleb Grover

State Award: Personal Growth

Christian County | New Vision 4-H Club, Christian County Youth Leadership Team, State 4-H Youth Leadership Team, STEM Teen Teacher, Youth Representative on the Illinois 4-H Foundation Board

Caleb is always willing to lend a hand to make an event successful. He served on the Illinois 4-H Foundation board of directors and helped at the disaster preparedness academy at last year’s Illini Summer Academy. He has completed Speaking for Illinois 4-H training and visits the state capitol as part of Legislative Connection. He also serves his community as a camp counselor, church youth leader, library volunteer, and Alzheimer's facility volunteer. “4-H has opened my eyes so that I can always follow my dreams. I realize how good it feels to reach the seemingly impossible. I will always cherish the memories and friends that 4-H has created for me.”

EDUCATION & CAREER: Caleb has lots of career choices to choose from. He is considering emergency room medicine, biotechnology research, law, or politics.


Anthony Joiner

Key Award

State Award: Personal Growth

Macoupin County | Fantastic Fours 4-H Club, Federation, Teen Teachers, Hunger Ambassadors, Pollinator Ambassador, Unit 18 Leadership Team

Anthony helped establish the county’s 4-H hunger ambassador program that provides support to food pantries, and he started a food backpack program. He gives leadership to several committees, including the county expansion and review committee. He completed Speaking for Illinois 4-H training and shared his 4-H story at Legislative Connection. He teaches pollinator habitat health at area schools. “4-H means hard work that sometimes ends up in failures that I learn the biggest lessons from.  4-H has allowed me to grow from a shy, young boy into a young adult with confidence and skills to carry me into the future.”

EDUCATION & CAREER: Anthony plans to study agribusiness at Lewis and Clark Community College, then transfer to a university to complete his degree.


Erin Kistner

Legacy of Leadership Scholarship

Leadership, Citizenship, and Professionalism Award

Montgomery County | Starr Shooters 4-H Club, Youth Leadership Team, Teen Teachers, Hunger Ambassadors, 4-H Foundation

Erin initiated a weekend food program at her high school to combat food insecurity among her peers as part of her commitment from the 4-H Hunger Ambassador Summit. She completed Speaking for Illinois 4-H training and advocates for 4-H at Legislative Connection. A talented artist, she has organized teens to paint small murals on town buildings. She teaches visual arts and Korean orientation workshops. “4-H has allowed me to learn through projects and has given me opportunities to use my leadership and communication skills. I have organized community service projects that make a difference in the lives of others.”

EDUCATION & CAREER: Erin will study agricultural communications through the Parkland-University of Illinois Pathway Program


Kendall Knodle

State Award: Project Mastery

Montgomery County | Starr Shooters 4-H Club, County Youth Leadership Team. Kendall has deepened his roots in agronomy research. He visited the R.I.P.E project at the University of Illinois and toured ag industry seed facilities, which he translated into seed germination and soil identification activities for his club. He participated in crop sciences and ag mechanics programs through Illini Summer Academies. His drone work helps capture images of conservation needs, as well as insect and drainage pressures. He was a top 10 finisher in the national Farmfluencer video contest through National 4-H Council. He has completed Speaking for Illinois 4-H training and participates in Legislative Connection. “4-H means working hard, discovering new things, working as a team, and finding new ways to help people.”

EDUCATION & CAREER: Kendall plans to study ag business and management at a university, then return to help his father on the family farm.




About 4-H: Illinois 4-H prepares and empowers youth for success. University of Illinois Extension provides 4-H programs in every county in Illinois. Illinois 4-H impacts the lives of 200,000 youth each year through sustained learning clubs and groups and short-term programming.

About Illinois 4-H Foundation: The Illinois 4-H Foundation’s mission is to build relationship to generate financial resources for Illinois 4-H. Funding from individual donors, our Illinois 4-H Project Partners, companies, and friends of Illinois 4-H help the Foundation support statewide programming initiatives along with scholarships, assistance to National events, grant opportunities, Teens as Teachers and assists us in filling funding gaps.