Photo of Cathryn Frisby
A group of 4-H alumni enjoy 4-H so much, they’re still meeting, 90 years after the oldest began her 4-H journey.

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.


Every time we go in a store to shop, we drop something in the kettle. The thought is simple, if we have enough money for ourselves; we have enough for others. You may have a similar tradition, such as sponsoring a child or senior citizen during the holidays, or supporting other local giving opportunities.

"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.

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 will be inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame Class of 2016 at a ceremony in Chevy Chase Md. Known around campus as "Shorty" because of her small 5-foot frame, Eichelberger stands as a giant among her peers for her philanthropic efforts to support 4-H and the university.

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).

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.

Ten Illinois 4-H teens were honored as Illinois 4-H Key Award winners for their leadership, community service and mentoring activities throughout their 4-H career. The award is sponsored by the H. Richard and Sarah F. McFarland Endowed 4-H Youth Leadership Development Support Fund from the Illinois 4-H Foundation.