Elgin teacher among 4-H Hall of Fame inductees
After a decade of running a 4-H community club for youths in Batavia, Anne Herrmann wanted to bring the 4-H model of hands-on exploration and learning to her eighth-grade classroom at Abbott Middle School in Elgin.
Herrmann, of Batavia, is a third generation 4-H leader, after her mother and grandmother. The skills she learned through her involvement with America's largest youth development organization helped her become a better teacher, she said.
When her students sought to learn more about robotics, Herrmann started an after-school club at Abbott that is being duplicated this year at three more Elgin Area School District U-46 middle schools.
"It's grown so much, for the last three years we've hosted a competition at Abbott where over 400 4-H members come and show off their robotics (talent)," she said.
Now, seven of the eight U-46 middle schools have a 4-H robotics club. "That was my dream when this all started," Herrmann said.
Herrmann and three other suburban residents are among 74 statewide inductees into Illinois' 4-H Hall of Fame for their exemplary service. Inductees include Tricia Giron of Darien, Nancy Tufano of Lake Zurich, and Chrissy Northup of Woodstock.
Through 4-H youths complete hands-on projects in areas, such as health, science, agriculture and citizenship with guidance from adult mentors. Its programs are offered in every county and parish nationwide through in-school and after-school programs, school and community clubs and 4‑H camps.
With more than 150 projects areas, the 4-H club experience gives boys and girls ages eight to 18 years an opportunity to explore topics of interest, make new friends, develop leadership and life skills, and contribute through community service. Youths also can participate in events at the county, state, national, and international levels.
"They learn there is a bigger world," Herrmann said. "They get to know other kids outside of their school, get to know kids in the county, and at state and national events ... 4-H really builds their leadership skills."
Herrmann has been an active University of Illinois Extension volunteer in Kane County for 23 years, including as an organizational leader of the 4-H Go-Getters Club and part of the 4-H Robotics program. She also has served on committees and as a Kane County Fair superintendent.
"She has been instrumental in our tri-county Robotics Showcase in Elgin for the past three years, and she continues to share her time and expertise in community 4-H activities," said Doris Braddock, 4-H program coordinator for Kane County. "She exemplifies leadership, organization, and innovative ideas."
The Illinois 4-H Foundation established the statewide Hall of Fame in 2004 to honor and celebrate extraordinary 4-H alumni, volunteers and former 4-H staff members. Each year, the foundation recognizes one volunteer per county for exemplary service.
Nominations for the Illinois 4-H Hall of Fame are made by University of Illinois Extension staff. Honorees were recognized at a ceremony last month at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.
Giron, who has background in education and food science, is a new volunteer for University of Illinois Extension of DuPage County. She leads the community 4-H club, Darien Dragons, and also has volunteered to lead multiple workshops on STEM-related topics, including aerospace and food and nutrition. Giron also was an 11-year 4-H member as a youth in Macon County.
Tufano has been a 4-H Leader to the Adventurous 4-Hers 4-H Club for 12 years and has served on several committees. She is the chairwoman for the International Festival and oversees the pop stands at the Lake County Fair.
Northup has been an active volunteer with 4-H in McHenry County for more than 20 years. She has served in many roles, including the leader of the Community Builders 4-H Club. She serves on the county's dog and horse committees where she assists with planning activities and managing the shows. She serves as a superintendent for the natural resources and environment project areas and served for six years on the McHenry County 4-H Youth Foundation board.
This year saw the largest inductee class to date, said Angie Barnard, director of the Illinois 4-H Foundation.
"These longtime volunteers fully embody what 4-H strives to instill in youth," Barnard said. "They are caring, dedicated, generous leaders."
For more information about 4-H and volunteer opportunities in DuPage, Kane or Kendall counties, visit web.extension.illinois.edu.