Avni Patel promoted the value of the 4-H program as part of Illinois' delegation to the Illinois Capitol as part of Illinois 4-H's Legislative Connection. Avni from Lake County was one of the 29 4-H members statewide who met with state legislators March 25 and 26 to show the impact of University of Illinois Extension 4-H on the lives of Illinois families.
4-H members meet one-on-one with state legislators
Citizenship is one of Illinois 4-H's primary mandates; and 29 Illinois 4-H members put that mandate in action as they met one-on-one with state senators and representatives March 25 and 26 in Springfield.
The youth were uniquely trained for their experience by participating in the Speaking for Illinois 4-H program which teaches youth good communication and public speaking skills, as well as important facts about the University of Illinois Extension 4-H program.
"I don't know a better way to teach citizenship and leadership than by involving 4-H members in one-on-one discussions with their state elected officials," said Deb Stocker, U of I Extension 4-H youth development specialist. "Youth made their own appointments or met legislators between committee meetings."
The youth told personal stories of growth, accomplishment and skills learned through their 4-H experiences, Stocker said. The youth were accompanied by three members of Extension Partners, a grassroots organization focused on the advancement of U of I Extension, as well as Extension staff and volunteers.
4-H information was delivered to all 178 offices of the Illinois House of Representatives and Illinois Senate. In addition, the 4-H team met individually with 37 senators and 63 representatives. Director of Agriculture Bob Flider and Secretary of State Jessie White also invited the youth for personal visits.
The 4-H spokesmen were introduced in the Illinois House by Rep. Don Moffitt of the 74th District and in Illinois Senate by Sen. John Sullivan of the 47th District.
"We were fortunate to be at the Capitol during the governor's budget address," Stocker said, "Two members were actually seated in the House during the budget address."
"The 4-H team included Danielle Brinkmann of Clinton County; Joshua Pine of Ford County; Karley Hall of Franklin County; Lindy Couch of Henry County; Ethan Heidrich of Kendall County; Bailey Stegall of Knox County; Avni Patel of Lake County; Alyssa Zimmer of Logan County; Miranda Fulton of Macoupin County; Brad Braddock, Rhiannon Branch, Kelsey Littrell, and Dawna Reeves, all of Marion County; Kylie Byrd and Krystina Short, both of Mason County; Paige Behrens and Julia Maddock, both of McHenry County; Sidney Roling and Courtney Wiedenmann, both of Mercer County; Alicia Biffar of Monroe County; Michaela Stewart of Randolph County; Sarah Callahan, Maya Chavez, and Shelby Ledbetter, all of Rock Island County; Ashala Beler-Miller and T'hara Galbreth, both of Sangamon County; Jackie Beck of Shelby County; Angelica Lebron of Will County; and Morgan Rich of Woodford County.
The value of 4-H was recently highlighted in the completion of a 10-year longitudinal study by Tufts University which found that 4-H members were three times more likely to make healthy choices than their peers. 4-H members are also twice as likely than peers to pursue a career in science, five times more likely to believe they'll graduate from college, and three times more likely to make contribution to their communities.
More than half of the Illinois 4-H members entering college who responded to a survey said their 4-H project work helped them choose their college major. Thirteen percent of graduating 4-H members have already started a business; and nearly all asked reported knowing a business they could start based on a 4-H project.
To learn more about 4-H in the community, one may contact Cindy Sarkady, 4-H Educator, email@example.com or Sabrina Huley, firstname.lastname@example.org at 847-223-8627.