The Illinois 4-H Foundation annually recognizes 4-H volunteers for exemplary service, and this year, three volunteers from the western suburbs were inducted into the Illinois 4-H Hall of Fame.
Todd Gordon of Lombard has been the 4-H Beekeeping SPIN (special interest) Club leader for the past four years in DuPage County.
“He helps youth, and the community, understand the importance of honeybees and that they are necessary to our food chain,” said Patricia Luster, 4-H Program Coordinator, DuPage County. “He provides a way for suburban youth to learn about agriculture and the environment. We are grateful to have him as a volunteer, as he has provided a newfound enthusiasm for bees and beekeeping in our county.”
Gordon has provided all of the equipment and lesson plans for more than 30 youth in the program, and he has impacted the parents and others as well. It is common for the parents to ask to stay during the lessons because they now are interested in starting hives with their children at their own homes, Luster added.
Patricia Bunge of St. Charles is a long-time supporter of 4-H and University of Illinois Extension. She spent 11 years as a 4-H member and has been a volunteer in Kane County for 21 years.
“We appreciate Pat’s unbiased horse and equestrian knowledge and her longtime commitment to helping youth,” said Doris Braddock, 4-H Program Coordinator, Kane County. “Despite her busy schedule, she can be called upon at any time to lend a hand to the 4-H program. She is truly an asset to Kane County 4-H.”
Over the years, Bunge has served as a club leader and a project leader, and she currently serves as a member of the Kane County 4-H Horse Committee, chairs the Kane County Fair Committee, and serves as a superintendent at the annual fair, where she prepares the show ring each year at no cost.
Diane Morris of Big Rock has volunteered with Illinois 4-H for nearly 40 years. She served as a longtime Kendall County 4-H club leader and as president of the Northern Illinois 4-H Camp Association, as well as secretary, treasurer, and currently executive director of the Kendall County 4-H Foundation.
“For decades, Diane has been a dedicated, driven volunteer, supporting Kendall County 4-H and Illinois 4-H, and inspiring others to do the same,” said Kim Eisnaugle, 4-H Program Coordinator, Kendall County. “She truly has impacted thousands of youth through her work at the local, regional and state levels.”
Morris is instrumental in the annual pork chop fundraiser – sponsored by the local Friends of Extension and 4-H Foundation groups – which, each year, raises thousands of dollars for University of Illinois Extension of Kendall County. Under her leadership, the local 4-H Foundation also raised funds and built Smith 4-H Hall on the Kendall County Fairgrounds in 1996, providing the main structure for the county fairgrounds.
Gordon, Bunge and Morris were among the 71 new members celebrated at the Illinois 4-H Hall of Fame event, Saturday, Aug. 12 at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield.
“These long-time volunteers fully embody what 4-H strives to instill in youth,” said Angie Barnard, Executive Director of the Illinois 4-H Foundation. “They are caring, dedicated, generous leaders, and the Illinois 4-H Foundation is extremely proud to be able to provide this honor to each and every one of them to thank them for their service to this wonderful organization.”
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. Each inductee received a commemorative Hall of Fame medallion.
“As a result of these volunteers’ years of service and leadership to Illinois 4-H,” Barnard said, “the program they love will continue to create wonderful opportunities for the young people whose lives it touches.”
For more information about the award, visit 4hfoundation.illinois.edu/awards. The Illinois 4-H Foundation raises private funds that are invested in Illinois 4-H programs that provide meaningful, positive development experiences for Illinois youth to develop leadership, citizenship, and life skills. To learn more, visit: www.4hfoundation.illinois.edu.