CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – The career achievements of Illinois 4-H members were lauded at the Illinois 4-H Celebration of Excellence held April 1 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Champaign. The Illinois 4-H Foundation awarded $45,000 in scholarships to 4-H youth.
“Our Celebration of Excellence event honors an amazing group of young people who have made 4-H and their communities the focus of their time and talents,” says Lisa Diaz, University of Illinois Extension assistant dean and 4-H director. “4-H youth are making a difference in their communities by growing gardens, packaging meals for the hungry, educating peers about healthy choices, designing technological solutions to today’s issues, and extending a compassionate hand to those who need encouragement and support.”
The scholarships are awarded to five Illinois 4-H members in nine focus categories and are based on merit and a demonstrated standard of 4-H excellence.
“I personally look forward to the event every year,” says Illinois 4-H Foundation board member Jenny Webb of McLean County. “It is so energizing to see amazing youth in this room and what they are accomplishing.” ((View the ceremony program)
State 4-H Award Winners
Forty-five young adults were chosen as scholarship winners with each winner receiving a $1,000 scholarship.
The animal sciences award recognizes youth who have demonstrated and maintained a high standard of 4-H excellence and mastery in their animal science projects. The winners are Cole Paulek, Christian County; Braylee Gilmore, Macoupin County; Paige Lemenager, McLean County; Amanda Niemann, Montgomery County; and Jacqueline Schertz, Woodford County.
This award is sponsored by Dee Murray, George Obernagel, Keith and Lissa Parr, and Mark and Lee Ann Gossett.
Civil Engagement and Global Living
The Civil Engagement and Global Living award recognizes youth that have focused on 4-H work in service to others. The winners are Andrea Schaffnit, Adams County; Sophia Stierwalt, Champaign County; Jeremiah Todd, Champaign County; Molly Warner, Knox County; and Gracie Prose, Ogle County.
This award is sponsored by Nann Armstrong, Ron and Melanie Warfield, and Dee Murray.
Creative and Performing Arts and Communications
The Creative and Performing Arts and Communications award recognizes youth that have focused their 4-H work on the arts and the art of communicating with others. The winners are Haven Henry, Logan County; Sophia Schneider, Logan County; Reagan Parks, McLean County; Alexa Salverson, Peoria County; and Victoria Zwilling, Richland County.
This award is sponsored by Janice Seitz and Kevin and Janette Rhoades.
The Food Systems award focuses on youth who have focused on food production, processing, distribution, and access. The winners are Lilie Perry, Clark County; Madeline Schulz, DuPage County; and Halie Kohl, Kankakee County.
This award is sponsored by Donna Mueller, Karen Moore, and Larry Hageman.
Healthy Living and Nutrition
The Healthy Living and Nutrition award focuses on youth who are helping their communities make healthy decisions and lead healthy lifestyles. The winners are Elaina Smith, Adams County; Jenna Haas, Jo Daviess County; Avani Rai, McLean County; Elaan Bader, Montgomery County; and Hunter Kirk, Wayne County.
This award is sponsored by Pat Clickener, Belinda and Tim Carey, Kevin and Janette Rhoades, and the Illinois 4-H Foundation Legacy Endowment.
The Leadership award recognizes youth that have focused on the development of leadership skills. The award scores youth based on offices held, committees served on, programs led, and public presentations given on behalf of 4-H. The winners are Krish Nangia, DuPage County; Ross Vancil, Henderson County; Libby Larkin, Livingston County; Emma Hughes, Montgomery County; and Emma Coursey, Warren County.
This award is sponsored by Pat Clickener, Donna Mueller, Dave and Lisa McMurtry, and Chicago Farmers.
Natural Resources and Environmental Science
The Natural Resources and Environmental Science award recognizes youth who have focused on environmental stewardship. The winners are Fenley Lopez, Champaign County; Emilee Cox, Hamilton County; Emily Reppy, Kendall County; William Weber, Livingston County; and Madison Schneider, Monroe County.
This award was sponsored by Sharon and Art Tenhouse, Walter Lynn, Mark and Mary Kaufman, Dee Murray, and the Illinois 4-H Foundation Legacy Endowment.
The Personal Growth award recognizes youth that have focused on personal growth through their participation in the 4-H program. The winners are Caleb Zwilling, Champaign County; Dylan Zwilling, Champaign County; Sarah Rossi, Grundy County; Lauren Carlson, Ogle County; and Jorgi Dupureur, Tazewell County.
This award is sponsored by Pat Clickener, Barbara and George Clark, Janice Seitz, and the Illinois 4-H Foundation Legacy Endowment.
STEM and Robitics
The STEM and Robotics award recognizes youth who have focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The winners are Paige Siegmund, Champaign County; Justin Gergen, DuPage County; Sydney Reppy, Kendall County; Ojas Shah, McLean County; and Callysta Borders, Union County.
This award was sponsored by the Sharon and Art Tenhouse, Dee Murray, Lisa Woessner Memorial 4-H Science Endowment, and the Illinois 4-H Foundation Legacy Endowment.
Scholarship support allows students to continue to follow their learning pathways for post-secondary education.
“I’ve always had a love for natural resources and wanted to pursue education and a career with it,” says William Weber of Livingston County, natural resources and environmental science scholarship recipient. “Without the donors’ help, I wouldn’t have been given the support to further my education.”
Gracie Prose of Ogle County, winner of the Deb Stocker Illinois 4-H Youth Leadership Team Scholarship, was also celebrated at the event. This award honors an exceptional member of the 4-H Youth Leadership Team.
The scholarship program is supported through private donors and the Illinois 4-H Foundation.
“The Illinois 4-H Foundation works hand-in-hand with the statewide program, and our sole mission is to be able to provide private funding so that 4-H can do more,” says Webb. “We know that 4-H programming is leading the way nationally in a variety of ways, and we are so grateful for our donors’ support.”
The ceremony program is available on the Illinois 4-H website.