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4-H

Oak seedings in buckets.

A boy named "Oak"

Oak Leaf.   Why would the Leaf parents of such a big, strong baby boy name him Oak? That’s seems like a lot of responsibility for a youngster to handle throughout his long life ahead. But Oak was full of potential. Oak knew the future held many uncertainties and challenges, but he...
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Food insecurity and cold weather

As the holiday season comes to a close, it is important to remember the ongoing needs of people struggling with Food Insecurity. Cold weather is a growing strain on families, making it even harder than normal to keep everyone fed.  In the spirit of continued giving, consider donating to local...
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Teaching kids effective goal-setting

The New Year is frequently a time when adults do some personal goal setting through resolutions of all sorts. This time of year also presents a great opportunity to teach kids this important skill. Setting and working towards goals helps kids to develop self-control, persistence and responsibility...
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Sustainable seeds: That's 4-H

The bounty of the harvest. Many of us interpret this to be the ending point of nature’s annual cycle. We know that winter is here and only the warm spring sun can signal the start of another cycle. But the seed that sprouts next spring is already here. And this seed needs winter; it needs nurturing...
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Food for thought: fighting food insecurity

Most students are back in school. This means that the majority of children will now be guaranteed school lunches five days a week. Although the return of school lunches is certainly a boon to families struggling with food insecurity, it is important not to get lulled into thinking that their trials...
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The love of archery shared – from California with love

Clarence was a freshman at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign in 1962 majoring in agriculture. He was from southern Illinois and looking for a way to meet new friends so he joined an archery club he learned about from a flyer posted in the Stock Pavilion. His love of archery...
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What's your 4-H story?

Share your 4-H history!

Illinois 4-H is proud of the rich history of 4-H and our 4-H alums near and far. If you were a member of the Illinois 4-H program, you are one of 25 million Americans who share a unique bond. The new Illinois 4-H History project initiative is seeking to reconnect with Illinois 4-H Alumni to...
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Hispanic Heritage Month conversation starters

Every year in the United States, National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the histories and cultures of Mexico, South and Central America, the Caribbean, and Spain from September 15 to October 15. This observation started under the Lyndon Johnson presidency in 1968 and was enacted into law...
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What's a Black-Nosed Crappie?

Jamie had learned a lot by being enamored by the Illinois 4-H State Crappie tournament in April. She’d caught panfish before and loved fishing. Her dad had taken her fishing at a nearby lake a few times the year before and she’d learned what a bluegill, a crappie, and even a Red Eared Sunfish...
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Celebrating Juneteenth

What is Juneteenth? Also known as Freedom Day, African American Independence Day, or Jubilee Day, this celebration marks a day in 1865 when enslaved Texans learned they’d be free—two months after Robert E. Lee surrendered and ended the Civil War and two and a half years after President Abraham...
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Livestock projects teach skills for a lifetime

Did you know that more than 40% of 4-Hers in the state participate in one or more livestock projects? In fact, four of the top 10 most popular projects in Illinois focus on livestock, including the two most popular projects: swine and beef. More than 7,000 youth across the state are currently...
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Summer meals matter

As we move forward into summer, some might be inclined to think that the issues of the world melt away with the cold. However, even when the sun and breeze make it seem impossible to worry about anything, many families have to worry about food insecurity. Many food insecure families rely on school...
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Making the Impossible Possible

I walked through a dirt road riddled with potholes. To my left, I saw a deserted primary school with a collapsed foundation. To my right, I gazed upon a medical clinic that is almost always empty and void of a doctor. I look at homes on the street, many of which are small amid a periodic power...
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Looking back as a horse bowl and hippology alumna

As the horse bowl and hippology season in Illinois nears its culmination in the state competition this weekend, the efforts of dedicated 4-Hers are soon to be rewarded. Every year, horse-crazy 4-H members from around the state of Illinois spend the fall, winter, and spring preparing for a rigorous...
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Purposeful donations: What they are and how to make them

Many people are unaware of what happens to food after it is donated. Obviously it is eaten, but what happens in the time between the time when it is dropped off at a pantry and the time when it is consumed? There are several important steps in this process, but one that is frequently forgotten is...
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Learning engineering design through robotics

Youth robotics teams from around the state are traveling to Bloomington this weekend to compete in the SpaceBot Mission Command 4-H Robotics Challenge. Teams have built and programmed Lego robots to accomplish a variety of tasks related to space travel, such as satellite control, navigation, and...
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Love horses, but don’t have a horse?

During the pandemic when so many other things were canceled, I started riding lessons. When I started I didn't know much about horses, and all I knew was what I watched on TV or had learned at camp which wasn't much. I love horses, but I don't own one. However, 4-H has given me the opportunity to...
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Five to Thrive: The best foods to donate to food pantries

It is not until you begin to look for food to donate to a food bank or pantry that you realize just what a wide selection of different foods there are in the world. Most people only tend to eat a very small fraction of these foods when allowed to choose for themselves. But choosing what to donate...
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5 actions youth can take to fight food insecurity this winter

Food insecurity, or the lack of consistent access to affordable and nutritious food affects roughly 10% of the people of Illinois. The lack of reliable food sources is extremely damaging to families and individuals. The winter months can be especially hard for families battling food insecurity....
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8 ways to celebrate Black History Month

Every February, people in the United States celebrate the history and the achievements of African Americans as a part of Black History Month. Here are some ideas of how you and your 4-H club can help celebrate this month! Learn Learn more about Black History Month, why it is...
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a youth in a mask builds a ring of Pringles

What do Pringles and leadership have in common?

You aren’t the first person to ask, "What do Pringles have to do with leadership?" The conversation started as I pushed a cart full of Pringles cans to the local grocery store and said, “I work for 4-H” to the cashier as though that explained why I had 10+ cans of our favorite creatively packaged...
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How national networking opportunities help grow true leaders

This past month ten youth from Illinois were able to attend the 100th National 4-H Congress. This was a five day event held in Atlanta, GA where they were able to take part in many activities such as workshops hosted by individuals from high level universities, fun sightseeing, and a morning of...
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5 ways to practice food advocacy this holiday season

The holiday season is upon us! No matter which holiday you’re celebrating, December is a busy month. Between shopping for your loved ones and preparing those traditional family recipes, you may not have much time to consider that there are easy things you can do to create environmental or social...
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hands planting a tree

Going green, one tree at a time

OK, I get it.   We’ve changed our environment in ways that need immediate attention. So what can I do? We need to improve our water quality. Storm water runoff with too many nutrients needs reduced. We need to become “carbon neutral” by producing less CO2 gas and find more ways to absorb...
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What I learned as Youth Leadership Team President

“To make the best better”—We all know the 4-H motto by heart. As 4-H members and supporters, this is what unites us—the passion and perseverance to take something that is great and pour our head, heart, and hands into creating something even better. Over the past four years of my time on the...
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What I learned with the 'Big M'

As I reflect on my years of being a 4-H member, most of my time was spent in the Shooting Sports program at my SPIN Club. When I first started shooting, I was seven years old, out at a local gun camp. The first gun I ever owned was a pink Crickett rifle. As I grew and entered 4-H, my...
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How shooting sports helped me grow In my 4-H career

4-H has given me so many opportunities, especially through Shooting Sports. When I started 4-H, I didn't feel l like I would really fit in with everyone because it was all about farming and raising animals, but that wasn't the case. Shooting Sports opened a huge opportunity for me and...
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Ways youth can build their leadership skills

Building your leadership skills can seem scary or unachievable, but 4-H teaches us that nothing is unachievable. Here are three easy ways to build your leadership skills.   It is important to note that everyone has leadership skills! 1.  Identify someone who you have observed to...
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Colorful fan with the text "celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month"

8 ways to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

¡Feliz Mes de la Herencia Hispana! Hispanic Heritage Month is observed each year September 15th - October 15th. This month celebrates not only the histories and cultures, but also the contributions of American citizens whose ancestors come from the Caribbean, Spain, Mexico, and Central/South...
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ice fishing dangers thin ice

4-H skating party lessons to live by

Jake’s family farm had two ponds full of bluegill, and he had always wanted to learn how to catch them through the ice. His friend, Carmen, had been taught how to ice fish by her uncle from Wisconsin a couple years before, so they decided on a Saturday afternoon adventure to try their luck....
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My perspective: A member's story on virtual 4-H

Editor Note: At midnight Aug. 31, the 4-H year will end and a new year begin. In a summer filled with challenges, one 4-H member rose above the hardship and lived her 4-H pledge: To Make the Best Better (in a virtual world). By: Ava Anderson Ellery Panther's...
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Tree Stand Safety

4-H stressing tree stand safety for hunters

It wasn’t that long ago a teenage boy was working a part-time job at a family-owned tree nursery when he was privy to a conversation between the business owners about the loss of young trees due to whitetail deer browsing and antler rubbing.    The boy’s interest peaked on the...
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photo of 4H members

4-H provides hope, food to Southern Illinois

Edwards County 4-H members answered the call to help their neighbors, just when it is needed most.  Prior to the stay-at-home order in March, 22 4-H members and 15 volunteers met at the Country Financial Hall in Albion and packed meals for the area food banks. One in four Illinois children...
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Message from Illinois 4-H

One thing we can count on during uncertain times is our 4-H values. Now, more than ever, Illinois youth need their 4-H family. Together, youth and adults can use this time to demonstrate values like independence, belonging, generosity and mastery. The lessons Illinois youth learn...
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Turn Wednesdays into Mondays

I wish I could promise you that the fair is going to work out the way you want. I wish I could tell you that you'll have the success you worked for. I wish I could tell you that you'll be recognized for your hard work, your kindness, your dedication, your grit. I wish I could tell you that others...
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Be like Mike: Orbiting the moon 50 years ago

The July 21, 1969 issue of The Columbia Missourian said this about Michael Collins, third astronaut joining Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong on the first landing on the moon: "While the world breathlessly watched and listened for the moon walk by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, Mike Collins...
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Let's keep smiling

I've smiled every morning for the past six days. I smile because every morning, I check the Farmfluencer website and see that Montgomery County 4-H member Kendall Knodle's amazing video is still in the running to win. I smile because it's a good video, based on science, featuring University of...
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Actions speak louder than words

It has been a difficult month in rural America. The rain is relentless. Levies are breaking. What crops were planted are washing away. We're all tired and hoping for a break in the weather. Farming is filled with opportunities for life lessons, but that's nothing new to farm families. We have...
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Let 4-H carry you to what comes next

For 1,347 4-H members, the next few days will bring the end of high school and the beginning of what comes next. What comes next may mean new homes, new friends, new jobs, new pursuits, new lives. Wherever and whatever next means for you, let 4-H carry you through the challenging days....
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And, That's 4-H

Sometimes learning comes in thundering waves; other times as tiny nuggets of wisdom. More than 500 4-H members studied through the winter and early spring to learn as much as they could about the horse industry. They competed in four regional contests until the best of the best remained to compete...
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Facing challenge with determination

Never doubt how hard Katelyn Hamilton is willing to work. The Randolph County 4-H member has faced serious challenges, yet she has emerged stronger and more determined in spite of them. Katelyn spent the first 28 days of her life in a neonatal intensive care unit. Doctors said she would likely be...
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When passion and work align

Aaron Dufelmeier is living the dream, just down the road from where his Extension journey began. Dufelmeier manages the Extension program in Calhoun, Cass, Greene, Morgan, and Scott counties. In April, he hosted Dr. Kim Kidwell, dean of the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer...
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Camping needed now more than ever

The benefits of overnight camping extend far beyond the simple joys that come from eating roasted marshmallows and jumping into a cool lake on a hot day. Overnight camping is a valued part of the 4-H experience for thousands of children each year and teaches valuable lessons, whether campers...
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Change is in the air

It's that time of year when the minds of 4-H storytellers turn to impact reports. My understanding of impact has changed in the years since I first studied ag communications in the basement of Mumford Hall. It took real life to show me what my professors tried so hard to teach me. Impact isn't...
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How will you spend September?

On Purpose. With Purpose. There is a difference. Many of us do great things with purpose. We are amazing employees. We conquer difficult tasks. We study with purpose, work with purpose, live with purpose, but how much of what we do with purpose is on purpose...
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Find your new best friend at 4-H camp

Peter and Isaac didn't know each other before arriving at 4-H Memorial Camp, but two days in, each has found his new best friend. There's something about fresh air, campfires, starry nights, and lake water that brings out the best in humanity. Isaac and Peter run to the beachfront and hold up each...
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Sweet dreams for kids helped by 4-H

For kids in need in Boone and Winnebago counties, kindness is wrapped in a warm sleeping bag. For four years, 15-year-old 4-H member Serenity Brockman has used her allowance and birthday money to buy child-themed sleeping bags for children in need. This year, Serenity enlisted the help of her...
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Let them eat cake

Sometimes we take for granted the simple, everyday, every-year things which make our lives complete. Take birthdays. We all have them, but 4-H members learned that many of their peers don't get to enjoy birthdays in the same way the 4-H youth do. Food pantries often lack the simple ingredients for...
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When life gives you lemons, build a jeep

Carl Schmidgall knows how to take a bad situation and make it better. His sister, Korri, wrecked her Jeep when she hit a patch of black ice coming home from basketball practice. She was fine, but the Jeep was totaled. It sat in the machine shed at home for two years before Carl decided to rebuild...
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Give.

We have a holiday tradition in our home. No, it has nothing to do with putting up decorations or cooking our favorite holiday recipe. Ever since the children were old enough to understand, we always try to do one thing. Give. Every time we go in a store to shop, we drop something in the kettle....
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Mission: Feeding a Growing Population

When your survival depends on feeding a growing world population, who better to call than a 4-H alum who has spent his professional career working to maximize crop outputs on every acre. Sam Eathington's connection to agriculture started young growing up on a grain and livestock farm in west-...
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Cheers to the green and white

October 1 starts the biggest week in 4-H, National 4-H Week. 4-H membership is 6 million strong across the country, with more than 25 million alumni. Last year, more than 25,000 youth were 4-H club members in Illinois; another 170,000 youth were involved in 4-H through camps, after school programs...
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Google and 4-H ... and Russell

Google made quite a splash at the Illinois State Fair. Rob Biederman, head of Google's Midwest external affairs office, and Jennifer Sirangelo, president and CEO of National 4‑H Council, announced a $1.5 million dollar grant from Google to the national 4-H program to expand nationwide computer...
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Failures don't have to be failures

To say 4-H at the Illinois State Fair was a success would be an understatement. Stir gently the 3,300+ exhibitors, a national media announcement with representatives from Google and Gov. Bruce Rauner present, perfect weather, an estimated 20,000 visitors to our exhibit area, and I can't imagine a...
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hereford cow drawing

Remember what matters at this year's fair

As we look toward a summer filled with 4-H shows, we encourage you to remember this: It's never about winning; it's about being part of something more than yourself. It's never about being perfect; it's about being your personal best. It's never about beating someone else; it's about beating...
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5 lessons every 4-H member knows

Lessons come wrapped in all types of boxes. Here are five lessons every 4-H member knows. #5: You aren't going to win every time, and that's okay. How you lose is just as important as how you win. There's no way you're going to get through life #1 all the time. Real champions...
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Adventures Await in faraway places

What makes an Illinois teenager decide to travel to a new country and live for weeks with a family she's never met? For Lana Fitzgerald, it's adventure of the unknown. Lana was part of the 4-H intercultural exchange program and lived with a host family in South Korea for four weeks last summer....
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Raise your hand for 4-H

4-H, the largest youth development program in the nation, is calling on all alumni to raise their hands to help bring 4-H to 10 million youth by 2025. Currently 4-H empowers nearly six million young people in every county across America, including 26,500 4-H'ers in Illinois. For more than 100...
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Feeding your neighbor takes on new meaning

Some 4-H teens have taken the "hands to larger service" challenge of the 4-H pledge to heart and focused their 4-H energy feeding their neighbors. Clare VanSpeybroeck was recently honored by Illinois 4-H as a state community service award winner for her efforts fighting local hunger. Together, with...
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We're listening

We're listening now more than ever. Jump over to 4-H.illinois.edu and look at the new Illinois 4-H website. Yeah, we did that! Illinois 4-H is a thriving, growing, vital program reaching nearly 200,000 Illinois youth a year. In the past five...
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Volunteers are key to 4-H shooting sports program

You wouldn't think it would work. The shooting sports program is one of the fastest growing projects in Illinois 4-H. The program offers four disciplines of focus: archery, rifle, shotgun, and wildlife/hunting. For some teens, shooting sports is the one reason they joined and stayed in 4-H during...
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You never really leave

If you attended University of Illinois, this campus will always hold special memories for you. As a young graduate, I would stop by campus on my way through from where my first job took me to where I was born. After marriage and babies, I would still stop, toddlers in tow, to show them the quad,...
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Eichelberger to receive National 4-H Hall of Fame Award

"4-H has made me everything I am." That's tall praise from a woman whose family name adorns the University of Illinois woman's softball field, but it is said with the sincerest gratitude about the youth development program which she says instilled her desire for lifetime service and learning....
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The Voice of the Illini praises 4-H

The moment he speaks, you recognize Brian Barnhart, the Voice of the Illini. What you may not know is that Barnhart is a former 4-H member and credits 4-H with providing the structure youth need to set goals and learn responsibility. A member of 4-H clubs in both Tolono and Sedora in his youth,...
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Register as a 4-H alum during National 4-H Week

What do Chancellor Robert J. Jones, Coach John Groce, Philanthropist Lila Jeanne Eichelberger, Professor Bruce Fouke, Voice of the Illini Brian Barnhart, and I all have in common? We were 4-H members and can trace where we are now to the lessons we learned in 4-H. In Chancellor Jones' welcome...
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When 4-H really matters

Life-changing. It isn't a term I use lightly or often. It loses its power when used carelessly, yet today, today, I can use no other word to describe Josiah's 4-H journey than life-changing. Josiah just won the Illinois State 4-H Air Rifle Shoot held Saturday in Bloomington, but that isn't why...
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Let generosity guide your walk

Nearly 70 years ago, a young woman walked the same paths you now walk on this beautiful campus. No doubt, even she didn't know then what an influence she would later become to generations of young people attending University of Illinois or young 4-H members. This fall, Lila Jeanne Eichelberger...
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Help us give that 'first look' to Illinois students

Do you remember your first time on the University of Illinois campus? Sure you do. There's something about walking on the quad for the first time that stays with a person. Illinois 4-H wants to be that 'first look at campus' for Illinois young people, and we do it through our Illini Summer...
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Show us your 4-H green

There's a new campaign to grow 4-H membership to 10 million kids by 2025. Grow True Leaders also aims to collect the names of 1 million 4-H alumni. Can we count on you? Whether your 4-H experience was speaking to legislators, whipping up a nutritious meal, leading your 4-H club meeting, spending...
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Illinois 4-H Loves Our Military Youth, So Purple Up! Today

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...
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4-H Celebrates Service During National Volunteer Week

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...
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Youth to spread the word about Illinois livestock industry

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...
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ADM adds $25,000 to scholarship fund

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. Each year, 25 $1,000...
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Farm Credit Illinois awards grant money to local clubs

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...
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4-H members advance to National Dairy Quiz Bowl

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. The national competition team includes Bria Koester, Dakota; Brock Irwin, Belvidere; Charlie...
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Camp receives grant money

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). Working with the Illinois 4-H Foundation, this financial...
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Morgan County team tops 4-H Meats Judging Contest

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...
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Celebrating Extension staff's dedication to excellence

It speaks well of a state program when one of it's former longtime employees is honored for the magic they did for generations of 4-H members. Illinois can be proud. Errol G. Burns, a former University of Illinois Extension staff member, now of Vernal, Utah, was inducted into the National 4-H Hall...
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100,000 meals for the hungry … and counting

Illinois 4-H has surpassed more than 100,000 packaged meals for the hungry in 11 months through the 4-H Feeding and Growing Our Communities program. The latest push came July 15 when more than 200 volunteers helped the Quad Cities 4-H Teen Hunger Ambassadors prepare more than 40,000 meals. The...
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Trivia contest helps youth build friendships across county

The burning question in Logan County was "Are you smarter than a 4-Her." The answers came during a fast-paced trivia contest, sponsored, in part, by Farm Credit Illinois. Acting on a suggestion by the county's Expansion & Review Committee, the trivia contest hoped to provide opportunities for...
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Youth in 4-H use Arduino to solve everyday problems

Through a pilot initiative engaging 50 youth in Rockford, Madison and Elgin, 4-H youth in Illinois are building science and engineering skills for the future. Using open-source software and simple microcontroller boards called Arduinos, these youth are writing computer programs, learning how to...
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The world comes alive through Will County 4-H robotics

The competition is only a small part of the real accomplishments which happen through Illinois 4-H robotics. A group of Will County 4-H participants discovered that when 24 teams showcased their skills in the regional 4-H Robotics Box Bot Showcase in Joliet, hosted by University of Illinois...
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Illinois 4-H State Shoot hits target with 100 competitors

Any better, and he'd been perfect. Darren Hawkins of Grundy County missed only one clay target throughout a full day of shotgun trap competition at the Illinois 4-H Shooting Sports State Shoot held Saturday, May 31 at the Brittany Shooting Park in Bunker Hill. Hawkins hit 74 of his 75 targets to...
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'Simply the Best' sparks desire to share, contribute

For 25 years, University of Illinois Extension's "Simply the Best" program in Washington County has mixed the right ingredients to inspire positive change in the lives of 250 junior high youth there a year. High school teens who have been through the program themselves serve as mentors, helping...
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See STEM in action this weekend at State Robotics Competition

Robots will take over the ARC this Saturday during the sixth annual Illinois State 4-H BoxBot Robotics Competition. Approximately 300 students within 45 teams from across the state will exhibit their robots and compete against each other. In addition to the student competitors, University students...
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Seeing beyond the chaos of his everyday life

The following message came from a middle school teacher in Northern Illinois where Illinois 4-H has teamed with National 4-H Council to provide grant-funded 4-H robotics special interest clubs. She has seen the change in one young boy's life because of our valuable program. "One of my boys has a...
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Getting Personal: Conner's Cluckers instills hope

Youth can and do make a difference in their communities, and Sparta (Randolph County) Lincoln eighth grader Conner Stewart is among them. Conner sells or donates farm-fresh eggs to a variety of local people and the Sparta Food Pantry through his enterprise, Conner's Cluckers. He was diagnosed with...
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Lives changed as teens find hidden strengths as teen teacher

The pilot program for the 4-H Teens as Teachers grant has wrapped up, and the results prove the concept of using teens to teach peers is solid for both the participants and the teen mentors. The following testimonials speak to the impact for 4-H Teen Teachers. "Being a teen teacher showed me...
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