Local youth honored with top 4-H state honors

Chronicle Media


Sofie Heidrich

Nine teens representing 4-H in DuPage, Kane and Kendall counties earned top awards from Illinois 4-H, the state’s largest youth development program.

“4-H youth from around the state have been honored with awards for their learning experiences, leadership and service,” said Amy Henschen, 4-H Youth development educator, serving DuPage, Kane and Kendall counties. “Illinois 4-H prepares and empowers youth for success now and in the future. By focusing on building life skills, 4-H has helped these driven teens excel.”

State 4-H Experience Awards

Illinois 4-H challenges youth to try new things, experiment in project areas that interest them, and explore opportunities around the state and country. The 4-H Experience Award recognizes youth who excel in that challenge.

Elizabeth Berberich of Villa Park

“I’m not sure I can count all the ways 4-H has impacted me,” said award-winner Brayden Caraynoff-Huber of Kendall County 4-H. “I have learned about success and failures through the numerous projects I have shown at the fair. I have gained leadership skills through my club and county. It has pushed me out of my comfort zone and enabled me to become a better public speaker, and I have made lifelong friends through 4-H.”

Julian Heidrich

Several local youths were recognized for the highest level of this award, emerald. The award is sponsored by the Illinois 4-H Foundation.

Local youth who achieved the emerald level in leadership include: Elizabeth Berberich of Villa Park, Brayden Caraynoff-Huber of Minooka, Julian Heidrich of Oswego, Sofie Heidrich of Oswego, and Lydia Oker of Kendall County

Area teens who were recognized with the emerald level in project learning include: Alexander Ford of Elmhurst, Elizabeth Franzen of Somonauk, Emily Reppy of Yorkville, and Sydney Reppy of Yorkville. 

State 4-H Award

Sydney Reppy

State 4-H Award winners are selected in five award categories – Communications, Community Service, Leadership, Personal Growth, and Project Mastery – and are given the opportunity to select their award from three options:

1) Trip to National 4-H Congress; 2) $1,000 educational scholarship to school of their choice; or 3) Maximum of $1,000 scholarship to help cover cost of attending another national 4-H conference or event that the member is qualified to attend.

Brayden Caraynoff-Huber

This honor is sponsored by the Illinois 4-H Foundation, and two Kendall County youth were among this year’s recipients. Julian Heidrich was recognized in the Leadership category and Lydia Oker was recognized for Project Mastery.

“4-H means a lot to me,” said Oker. “4-H means confidence, volunteering and giving back to the community. It also has taught me many skills that will benefit me now and well into the future.”

State 4-H Key Award

Two local 4-H teens were among the eight honorees of the Illinois 4-H Key Award, sponsored by the H. Richard and Sarah F. McFarland Endowed 4-H Youth Leadership and Character Development Support Fund

Alexander Ford of DuPage County and Lydia Oker of Kendall County were recognized for mentoring and serving their communities.

Alexander Ford of Elmhurst

“4-H was the key to my growth from a shy child to a confident leader,” said Ford. “Through 4-H, I had many unique opportunities to develop my own personal brand of leadership to make a difference for my club, my community and beyond.”

4-H Legacy of Leadership Scholarship

Emily Reppy

Julian Heidrich was one of 15 4-H youth from around the state to earn this $1,000 Educational Scholarship. It is sponsored by the Illinois 4-H Foundation, which presents the Legacy of Leadership Scholarship to 4-H members who demonstrate and maintain a high standard of 4-H excellence and mastery during their membership tenure.

Elizabeth Franzen of Somonauk

“4-H is an opportunity for youth to interact and grow with their peers,” said Heidrich. “It is an opportunity for youth to develop skills to apply to their lives in order to better their communities, countries, and the world.”

Lydia Oker

These nine local youths earned these honors with other teens from around the state.

“Our awardees embody the true spirit of 4-H, having made a difference not only in their communities, but also Illinois and the nation,” said Lisa Diaz, University of Illinois Extension assistant dean and director of Illinois 4-H. “We are proud of the dedication, service, and fortitude of the young men and women who have developed through our 4-H programs.”