Inspiration from the writings of Martin Luther King, Jr. guided Illinois 4-H members at the Teen Leadership Conference held January 13-14 at the Decatur Conference Center. Nearly 100 teens across Illinois attended the conference, including Joely Craver of Bond County, 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 the words of 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.
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.