A version of this article can be found in the Woodstock Independent.


Dozens of adults represent decades of service to McHenry County youths

By Janet Dovidio

Three local 4-H Leaders have reached the 50-year milestone as volunteers for McHenry County 4-H clubs. They are Marie Payne and Judy Corson of Woodstock and Debbie Winn of Harvard.

McHenry County has more than 60 leaders heading some 26 clubs. Michele Aavang is this area's 4-H program coordinator and youth development leader for the University of Illinois and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"We are please to acknowledge the dedication of some of our greatest 4-H volunteers," she said.

Payne said each club chose its focus areas.

"Our club is the Keepers of the Clover," she said. "I help in the areas of food and nutrition and visual arts, including cake decorating and photography. Sometimes my kitchen is filled with kids, easels, chalk pastel dust, and lots of talking. It is so rewarding to see a child suddenly 'get it' and turn out beautiful, frame-worthy artwork."

Each of the longtime leaders volunteers in a particular club or activity: Payne in Keepers of the Clover, Winn in Hebron Helping Hands, and Corson in the county's 4-H Ambassador program, which she founded more  than 30 years ago.

Others have also volunteered for many years. Debbie Lechner is a 45-year member now involved with the 4-H county fair grandstand concessions. Chris Stebbins is a 34-year volunteer and current leader of Woodstock Wannabes. Cheryl Hammerand of Wonder Lake leads the Greenwood Handi-Helpers in her 26th year as a volunteer. David Payne has volunteered for 28 years with Keepers of the Clover.

"If a child absorbs enough about any subject they can use it in the future and be comfortable doing so, we have achieved our goal," Marie Payne said.

4-H is America's largest youth development organization, with more than 6 million American youth as members, 500,000 volunteers nationwide, and 25 million American 4-H alums. The program is part of Cooperative Extension, an educational outreach program of more than 70 public universities and colleges, including the University of Illinois.

The club's symbol of a four-leaf clover represents the four areas of head, heart, health, and hands.

The basic 4-H focus is the personal growth of the member. Today's clubs offer a variety of programs, including scientific fields, engineering, technology, and environmental protection in addition to agricultural studies.

In recognition of National 4-H Week, Oct. 6 to 12, the public is invited to a 4-H Open House from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3, at the University of Illinois Extension Office, 1102 McConnell Road in Woodstock. For information, email Aavang at maavang@illinois.edu or call 815-338-3737.



The Woodstock Independent

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Woodstock, IL 60098

Phone: 815.338.8040