Four local volunteers inducted into Illinois 4-H Hall of Fame

4-H Hall of Famers

Pictured clockwise from top left are Nicole Schaffnit, Gail Gallaher, Cinda Brodie and Kelly Westlake.

Longtime volunteers and former staff members across the state recently were honored by the Illinois 4-H Foundation for their selfless dedication to the University of Illinois Extension 4-H youth development program. Seventy-one individuals received the Foundation Hall of Fame Award during a virtual ceremony Aug. 17.  Four of the honorees are being named posthumously. 

Local inductees into the Hall of Fame were Nicole Schaffnit, Adams County; Gail Gallaher, Brown County; Cinda Brodie, Hancock County; and Kelly Westlake, Schuyler County.

The Illinois 4-H Foundation established the statewide Hall of Fame in 2005 to honor and celebrate extraordinary 4-H alumni, volunteers and former 4-H staff. Those inducted have a track record of exemplary service to 4-H or outstanding career and community achievement and were nominated by either county University of Illinois Extension staff or by the Illinois 4-H Foundation Board. Each inductee receives a commemorative Hall of Fame medallion. 

Brodie has been a 4-H leader for the Burnside Rising Stars for more than 20 years. The Burnside Rising Stars run a food stand during the 4-H fair, which often is the only food on the fairgrounds. Whitney McKeown, 4-H youth program coordinator in Hancock County, says Brodie works all day at the food stand while also helping her members prepare for judging.

Gallaher is a 12-year leader of the Lucky Clovers and a five-year assistant leader for the Brown-Schuyler 4-H livestock judging team. Jennifer Shelts, 4-H youth program coordinator for Brown County and Schuyler County, said the Lucky Clovers have regular meetings every month, and Gallaher provides creative opportunities for youths.

Westlake, manager of the Schuyler County Farm Bureau, has been an active volunteer with the Brown-Schuyler 4-H fair for more than 11 years. Shelts said Westlake helps judge the general project show and plays a vital role in the livestock auction committee.

Schaffnit is a 4-H alumni and continues as a volunteer in the Ursa Willing Workers 4-H Club. Betsy Bauer, 4-H youth program coordinator for Adams County, says Schaffnit also is on the Adams County 4-H Foundation Board.

“These volunteers are a model of 4-H values,” Angie Barnard, Illinois 4-H Foundation executive director, said in a press release. “All of our volunteers are valuable, but this award honors those who go above and beyond. These are volunteers that helped shape not only individuals, but generations of 4-H members. The Illinois 4-H Foundation is extremely proud to be able to provide this honor to thank them for their service to this wonderful organization.

Illinois 4-H programs reach nearly 120,000 youths each year through clubs, camps, educational programs, workshops and conferences. Volunteers fill key leadership and mentoring roles throughout the state. 

“Many volunteers have a tradition of 4-H in their family or were 4-H members themselves,” Barnard says. “More and more though, adults brand new to the 4-H experience are seeing the value of the life skills development program and volunteering for the first time. 4-H has volunteer opportunities that fit such a wide variety of time, skills, and talents.”

The Illinois 4-H Foundation raises private funds that are invested in Illinois 4-H programs that provide development experiences for Illinois youth to develop leadership, citizenship and life skills.

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