Twenty-one Illinois 4-H members have accepted the challenge to advocate on behalf of 4-H and the livestock industry as the members of the state's first State 4-H Livestock Ambassador Team.

"These young people are passionate and knowledgeable about livestock production and management," said Dan Jennings, University of Illinois Extension animal science educator.

Since its beginning, Illinois 4-H has believed in the importance of young people being engaged, well-informed citizens. By connecting to their communities and leaders, youth understand their role in civic affairs and are able to expand their role in decision-making processes. Citizenship is one of the core components of Illinois 4-H. It's one of only three areas we find so important, we call them "mission mandates." One key way we fulfill that mandate is through a two-day real-life engagement with state legislators--4-H Legislative Connection.

The month of April provides an opportunity to recognize and honor the service of our youngest heroes, military children. Established by former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger in 1986, the designation of April as the Month of the Military Child acknowledges the significant role military youth play in our communities. They are resilient and take pride in their service to our Country. They deserve our appreciation and support.

Illinois 4-H members pursuing advanced education will benefit from a donation to the Illinois 4-H Foundation. Archer Daniels Midland Company recently donated $25,000 to the Illinois 4-H Foundation to support the Superior Young Producer Award college scholarship program.

Illinois 4-H Memorial Camp will benefit from a $5,000 grant from The Grainger Foundation. The grant will allow for an expansion of activities geared to increase youth interest in science, engineering, technology and mathematics (STEM).

A team of 4-H members from Morgan County claimed the top county awards at the 2015 State 4-H Meats Judging Contest held March 7 at the Meats Lab on the University of Illinois campus. During the contest, youth had to provide quality grading scores for beef, lamb and pork carcasses, as well as various cuts of meat.

"Participants also had to identify many different retail cuts, identifying the specie, wholesale cut and retail name," said Dan Jennings, U of I Extension state animal science educator.

Four 4-H members earned the right to advance to the National 4-H Dairy Quiz Bowl Contest during the statewide 4-H contest held Saturday, March 7 at the Chateau Hotel and Conference Center in Bloomington.

Volunteers are the heart of Illinois 4-H, and the University of Illinois Extension 4-H Youth Development program salutes its 13,000 volunteers during National Volunteer Week, said Patricia McGlaughlin, U of I Extension youth development specialist. Statewide, volunteers support nearly 200,000 4-H participants in Illinois. National Volunteer Week runs April 12-18.

Local 4-H clubs and their members will be improving the local community, thanks, in part, to grants from Farm Credit Illinois. Farm Credit Illinois recently awarded $10,500 to 42 4-H clubs and seven FFA chapters in the area it serves through its annual community improvement grant program. Clubs received up to $250 each for specific community projects.