More than 100 seventh and eighth grade youth, including three from Kendall County, learned ways to improve their leadership skills at the 2020 “Passport to Leadership” 4-H Junior Leadership Conference Feb. 22 and 23 at the Thelma Keller Convention Center in Effingham.
“The delegates came away with practical ways to improve their leadership skills and personal lives, which they can take back to their 4-H clubs and communities,” said Katie Duitsman, University of Illinois Extension 4-H youth development specialist.
Local youth attending the conference included Ephraim Fisher of Yorkville, Abigail Munar of Plano and Kevin Wills of Yorkville. In addition, 4-H teen leader Julian Heidrich of Oswego helped plan and run the event as a member of the state 4-H Youth Leadership Team.
Team-building activities helped youth forge new friendships and build their 4-H network. Delegates learned about unique 4-H opportunities where they could further refine the soft skills necessary for successful careers.
The delegates also learned about the growing problem of food insecurity in Illinois.
As a team, the group packaged more than 9,000 meals for families in need in cooperation with Illini Fighting Hunger. To complete the packages, youth formed assembly lines, and each added an ingredient, including soy protein, rice, dried vegetables and bouillon.
The conference was organized and taught by members of the Illinois 4-H Youth Leadership Team, a team of uniquely-trained high school and college-aged 4-H members and young adult 4-H alumni. Plenty of time was allowed for the youth to interact with each other.
“Youth expand their understanding of the world when they’re able to interact with youth from places different than where they live,” Duitsman added. “That’s all part of the leadership experience in 4-H.”
A portion of the conference expenses was covered by the Illinois 4-H Foundation, which raises private funds to support the Illinois 4-H program. Growmark sponsored a meal, the community service project and a workshop.
To learn about 4-H in this community, visit go.illinois.edu/info4Hdkk.