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-central Illinois.

"4-H gave me an opportunity to learn more about the science behind the farm," Sam said. "Although I grew up on farm, exposure to new people and elements of agriculture fostered a passion that I still apply in my work today."

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 her team of 4-H Hunger Ambassadors in Rock Island County, more than 115,000 meals have been distributed in Rock Island County alone.

As we fill our bellies this Thanksgiving holiday, some 4-H youth will have a greater appreciation for the food set before them.

The 4-H Hunger Ambassadors in Milan held a Hunger Banquet, but not everyone filled their plates. In fact, many didn't even get a seat at the table.

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 meals will be distributed locally by the River Bend Foodbank.

Members of the Grandview Pioneers 4-H Club chose aerospace as their theme for the year, and each month, these young people, who hail from Kansas, Shiloh, Paris and Ashmore in Edgar County, have completed aerospace-related activities. Recently the group made kites, and despite a light mist, flew them.