The Vern & Leona Shaffer Family 4-H legacy is honored by 4-H Foundation

URBANA, Ill. – As a 50-year active Ursa Indian Grave Home Extension club member in Adams County, the late Leona Shaffer sparked a lasting love for Extension and 4-H. Over five generations, 42 Shaffer family members have contributed a combined 346 years of 4-H club membership. Their legacy is honored as the 2022 Illinois 4-H Foundation Family Spirit Award.

Leona spent many years as a host and officer for her Extension club, participating well into her 90’s. Many family members fondly remember Leona helping with their 4-H projects throughout her lifetime. Generations gained fond memories and skills that benefit them in their careers today.

generations of family members in front of a barn

“I have used and continue to use communications and leadership skills that I have learned through 4-H,” says Kaylyn Kirlin, Leona’s great-granddaughter. “It has translated into my career as a registered nurse, an active volunteer in my church, and in the children’s schools.”

Many 4-H members from the Shaffer family went on to volunteer with the organization, serving a combined 238 years as 4-H volunteers, including a combined 24 years of club leadership.

“Being a 4-H leader has been so rewarding,” says Leona’s granddaughter Carol (Shaffer) Hull. “Watching these members go from being shy and timid about giving a talk or demonstration or even speaking up at a meeting to holding an office and leading our young members in community service activities has been a great joy.”

The Family Spirit Award recognizes Illinois families who have benefited from 4-H and continue to advocate for the Illinois 4-H program over multiple generations. In addition to length of 4-H membership, families advocate for the county and state 4-H programs through their community service and philanthropy.

Gifts can be accepted in honor of the Shaffer Family at

SOURCE: Angie Barnard, Executive Director, Illinois 4-H Foundation
WRITER: Carissa Nelson, 4-H Media Communications Manager

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.

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.