Inspiration from the writings of Martin Luther King Jr. guided Illinois 4-H members at the Teen Leadership Conference held Jan. 13-14 at the Decatur Conference Center.
Nearly 100 teens across Illinois attended the conference, including Jessica Carlson of Plano and Lydia Oker of Sandwich, and improved their community advocacy, college readiness, communication and personal development skills.
“In 4-H, we know that leadership is not about a title or a designation,” said Lisa Diaz, University of Illinois Extension assistant dean and 4-H director. “It’s about impact, influence and inspiration.”
Diaz shared words from King’s speech, Life’s Blueprint: “Number one in your life’s blueprint should be a deep belief in your own dignity, your worth, and your own ‘somebodiness.’”
Brittney Robbins, founder and CEO of The Gray Matter Experience, which provides entrepreneurial tools and resources to black high school students in Chicago, said that what youth post online builds their personal brand. “Your digital content should directly reflect where you stand on issues.”
Susie Risser, freelance communication specialist from Sangamon County, challenged youth to choose words and actions carefully when speaking in public. “A lie told often enough will become the truth to the audience,” Risser said.
Amie Case, Lee County 4-H member, said 4-H provides leadership opportunities that push her out of her comfort zone to build skills.
“Through 4-H, I’m able to meet and help others,” said Te-Quandrius Carr of Sangamon County, “to better myself and my future.”
Five 4-H teens planned the conference. They were Kaleb Hemrich of Noble, Kaylee Leach of East Peoria, Maddi Jo Maxwell of Macedonia, Russell Moore III of Springfield, and Kaley Rouse of Toulon. Funding was provided by the Illinois 4-H Foundation.
To learn more about 4-H programs in Kendall County, visit go.illinois.edu/extensiondkk or call 630-553-5823.