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2019 IMPACT REPORT University of Illinois Extension Carroll, Lee, & Whiteside Counties

A Message from the Chancellor The University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign is an economic engine and a driver of innovation, deeply University of Illinois Extension

rooted in the Illinois prairie and engaged statewide, from

provides practical education you

Cook County to Cairo. Illinois Extension brings the

can trust to help people,

University to your doorstep. Extension educators live and work alongside

businesses, and communities solve

you in every county, allowing the university to support local leaders,

problems, develop skills, and build a better future. Based in the College

businesses, farmers, and residents to address grand challenges and everyday problems with practical, research-based solutions. As a youth, my

of Agricultural, Consumer and

own 4-H experience inspired a rewarding career in agricultural research and

Environmental Sciences, Extension

higher education. Today, it’s an honor to lead this great public university and

is the statewide outreach program

deepen its commitment to serve the people of Illinois.

of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.

Robert J. Jones Chancellor, University of Illinois

A Note from the County Director Welcome to our annual impact report for 2019! As I reflect on the past year and look forward to the next, I am reminded that University of Illinois Extension is your best and most reliable resource for education that can change your life. We are moving the needle on issues like food access, health and wellbeing, and workforce development. 2019 was a momentous year for Extension. We:

hired new staff;

taught over 200 children how to garden;

added a new group of master gardeners to our cadre of volunteers;

deepened our commitment to reaching diverse audiences;

improved the brain health and development of our communities; and

provided 4-H positive youth development to over 4,000 youth in our area.

As you look through our impact report, I hope you see the myriad ways we intersect with local communities and change lives. Our staff are phenomenal Financial Support




Spotlight Stories


SNAP-Ed 4-H & Youth

6-7 8-11

Family Life




Ag & Natural Resources


Staff Directory, Extension Council, & Outreach

and are here to help you with research-based education and programming. Our volunteers are the most committed people I know. They invest thousands of hours each year working with youth in our 4-H program, helping you grow food to eat and to make your landscapes more enjoyable, and improving our natural areas. We invite you to join us as a volunteer. If you have an interest in the issues we focus on, then we have a place for you. Thank you for your support of Extension, and may this year be the best one yet! Janice McCoy


County Extension Director

Extending Knowledge, Changing Lives

Local Support

University of Illinois Extension is the flagship outreach

Thank you to the individuals and businesses listed

effort of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,

below, who supported our local funding efforts in 2019.

offering educational programs to residents in all 102

Last year’s donations supported awards and trophies at

Illinois counties. Since it was established in 1914, Illinois

all three county 4-H shows and fairs; awarded

Extension has been an integral part of people’s

scholarships for 4-H camp, Master Gardener and Master

educational experiences. Communities have come to

Naturalist training; and paid 4-H program fees for those

rely on Extension for its practical, research-based,

in need. These are just a few examples of how your

educational offerings. Through learning partnerships

donation can make a difference.

that put knowledge to work, Extension’s programs are

To make a local donation, contact Susan O’Connor in marketing and local fund development at (815) 244-9444

aimed at making life better, healthier, safer, and more profitable for individuals and their communities.

Serving Carroll, Lee, and Whiteside Counties


University of Illinois Extension is divided regionally into 27 units throughout the state. Our unit serves Carroll, Lee, and Whiteside counties. We accomplish our work through our many partnerships with community organizations, schools, and government. Our staff includes a county director (Janice McCoy) and four

51 Federal Funds (including SNAP) 38 County Government 8

State Match & Ag Premium


Local Funding


Program Income

educators who offer programs in the areas of family life (Karla Belzer), SNAP-Education (Veronica Skaradzinski),


4-H youth development (Martha Ebbesmeyer), and horticulture (Bruce Black). We also have program

59 Salaries


Administrative Costs

coordinators and community workers who assist in our

19 Program Expenses



programming efforts. Volunteers in 4-H, Master Gardener,

10 Benefits



and Master Naturalist programs extend our reach.



Ace High Ranch

Chadwick Oil & Ag Service

Gorman Farms Trucking

Lee County Farm Bureau

PLN Mutual Insurance

Adolph Red Angus

Clark Carroll Insurance

Hahnaman Township

Lee County HEA

Prairie Farms Dairy

Advantage Credit Union

Cobane Air Freight

Hermes Family

Lee County Sheriff's Dept.

Albany Township

Community State Bank

Hopkins Township

Leffelman & Associates

Prophetstown Farmers Mutual Insurance

Al's Quality Service

Dixon Township

Hugh F. Miller Insurance

Little Creek Farm

RC Consulting

Argo Acres

Dorothy Cultra

In Memory of Allan Esgar

Lyndon Township

Rock River Lumber & Grain

Bayer-Ashton Soybean Production Site

Eastland Feed & Grain

In Memory of Donald Ramsdell

Marion Township

Roger & Dianna Dickson Sauk Valley Insurance

Boehle Family

Erbacres Holstein Farm

McCormick Nursery & Landscaping Meusel's Dairy Delite

Sloan Implement

In Memory of Otto & Thelma Oleson

Milledgeville Vet Clinic

Soaring Eagles 4H Club

In Memory of Rory & Ryan Miller

Miller Family Trust

Sterling Federal Bank

Morrison Veterinary Clinic

Straddle Creek Show Cattle

Northern IL Diesel

Sub-Let Indians 4-H Club

Open Lotus Massage

United Hairlines

Palmyra Township

Vandermyde Family

Paul D Young Farms

Bradford Victor Adams Mutual Brothers Restaurant Carroll County Farm Bureau Carroll County Livestock Feeders Carroll Service Co. Cen Pe Co CGH Medical Center Chadwick Achievers 4-H Club Chadwick Lamplighters HCE

Elkhorn Grove Township Exchange State Bank Farmer's National Bank Fenton Township Fink Farms First National Bank in Amboy First Savanna Savings Bank Flowers Etc.

In Memory of Isadore & Lillian Saidel

Integrity Ag Jo-Carroll Energy John Espinoza

Scott's Electric

Franklin Grove Township

Karen Miller

Fulton Saddle Club / In memory of Herb Combs

Lake Carroll Women's Club

Peterson Farm

Veterinary Clinic of Prophetstown

Lee County Extension Foundation

Pinterton-Riegel Family

Whiteside Co Pork Producers

Plainwell Brass

Wyoming Indians 4-H Club

Garden Plain Township



Volunteers Make a Difference

4-H Hall of Fame Inductees

A local business generously offers their out-of-date seed

The Illinois 4-H Foundation annually recognizes 4-H

packets to the Carroll-Lee-Whiteside unit at the end of

volunteers for exemplary service to the Illinois 4-H

their sales season. Joyce Bettner, an Extension Master

program. Local volunteers inducted into the Hall of

Gardener for over 14 years, uses those packets to attract

Fame this year included Jim Ruter, Darren Mosher, and

attention to programs she offers in Paw Paw, located on

the late Allan Esgar.

the eastern edge of Lee County. Carroll County The seeds are made available to residents in seven

Jim Ruter has been a dedicated 4-H

library locations throughout Lee County. Seeds at the

supporter for nearly 30 years. He was

Paw Paw Public Library were so popular, Bettner refilled

instrumental in establishing and

the seed library several times during the growing

organizing the 4-H livestock auction, in

season, distributing a total of more than 1,175 seed

addition to numerous other contributions to Carroll

packets in 2019.

County 4-H. Jim and his wife, Kayla, served as leaders of the Shannon Shamrocks Club from 1991 to 2000, while

According to Barbara Zeman, an employee of the Paw

their children were 4-H members. They continue to

Paw Library, “The flower seeds gave people the

volunteer, hosting the annual weigh-in for our 4-H beef

opportunity to grow different kinds of flowers they

members at their farm.

normally wouldn't try. One man liked the mixed wildflowers to throw in his ditch bank. That way he

Whiteside County

would be surprised by what grew.”

Member, club leader, camp counselor, and volunteer are all roles Darren

Over the past year, Bettner has provided various

Mosher has played in the Whiteside

learning opportunities to the community, including

County 4-H program over the past 30

classes in succulent wreath making, dish gardens, and

years. He was a member of the Leon Stickers Club for 10

growing herbs. Forty-five students benefitted from

years, became a club leader for the Lyndon Loyal

Bettner’s personal instruction and engaged in hands-on

Leaders, and now works with the Federation group. The

activities at the Paw Paw Public Library.

time, creativity, and passion he has dedicated to 4-H Camp is unmatched. Whiteside County 4-H looks forward to further creative adventures with him. Lee County Allan Esgar’s legacy is marked by a lifetime of devotion to the 4-H program. He spent more than 70 years committed to the 4-H philosophy. In his youth, Allan was a member of the Mazon 4-H Boy's Club in Grundy County, where he enjoyed livestock projects, 4-H camp, Federation, and Judging Team. After serving his country, he settled in Lee County and became leader of the Ambitious Aggies 4-H Club. Allan became 4-H Fair rabbit superintendent in the early 1980s. He was adamant about fostering an environment where kids could learn,

Lee County Master Gardener Joyce Bettner presenting a class at the Paw Paw Public Library.


help each other, and become independent. We are heartbroken by his recent passing and awed by his numerous, lasting contributions to 4-H.

Spotlight Stories

Local Youth Benefits from Partnership A 10 year partnership between Tractor Supply Company and National 4-H Council benefits 4-H members right here in Lee County. The Paper Clover Campaign raises money for scholarship funding for numerous state-level Lee County Master Gardener Aimee Hoffman received the

4-H programs.

2019 Outstanding Master Gardener Award.

“All money raised in each state by the fundraiser

Master Gardener Involvement Leads to College Degree

benefits youth within the state it was collected and 100%

Aimee Hoffman turned her love of gardening into a

Extension county director. “We use the funds for

career. A Master Gardener in Lee County since 2012,

scholarships to camps and leadership experiences like

Hoffman says, “The knowledge and skills I’ve gained over

the annual Illinois State 4-H Leadership Conference.”

of funds raised benefit 4-H,” said Janice McCoy,

the years as a Master Gardener gave me the confidence to go back to school.”

Nicole Hill from Dixon in Lee County attended the conference in 2017, and credits that experience leading

“The programs I developed and presented, led to a

to her being named to the Illinois Livestock Ambassador

desire to further my education and enrolling at

Team. “At the conference, I learned how important

Kishwaukee Community College. I completed an

teamwork and leadership are and how they can

associate’s degree in greenhouse management. I now

tremendously help in school and work. The experience I

have a rewarding career in a vocation that I love.”

had there introduced me to new methods of leadership. It helped me in my 4-H club, as well as school life,”

Through her work, Hoffman has developed lessons for

explains Hill.

schools, senior citizens, gardening conferences, and is a judge at the 4-H Fair each summer. Her interest in orchids

Last year, Hill took a big step and applied to be on the

turned into workshops where she instructs on types of

Illinois State 4-H Livestock Ambassador Team. She was

orchids, their care, and repotting of the delicate plants.

accepted. “The best thing I have done in 4-H is to be on

Hoffman enjoys delivering current gardening information to

the Livestock Ambassador Team. It opened me up to

the general public on a weekly, local radio program.

countless new people who enjoy the same things I do. Not only did it help open me up to new opportunities, it

“Aimee began as a quiet Master Gardener developing

has shown me what I love to do, which is educating

her confidence and leadership abilities as her

people about agriculture,” says Hill.

experienced increased,” explains Marilyn Kemmerer, Extension agriculture and natural resource program

Hill has loved showing her cattle at the county and state

coordinator. “The Lee County Master Gardeners

fair over the years. She liked learning about foods,

program has greatly benefitted from her knowledge. We

photography, and swine throughout her 4-H career. She

are fortunate to have her.”

is the daughter of Jill and Dave Hill of Dixon. 2019 ILLINOIS EXTENSION IMPACT REPORT 5

Snapshots From SNAP-ED

Making The Healthy Choice The Easy Choice

Talking with Veronica Skaradzinski, one immediately sees the passion she has for her work as a SNAP-Ed Extension educator. She exhibits a positive tone and genuinely cares about her work and how it impacts people’s lives — whether it’s advocating for nutritious lunches in local schools, educating administrators on federally-funded SNAP-Ed program policies, or creating fun ways to use healthy foods for pantry patrons. Skaradzinski has a desire to help others succeed in making healthful life changes. She believes small changes can make big differences over time and that healthy habits can fit any lifestyle. Her biggest goals focus on nutrition education and obesity prevention. In her role, Skaradzinski works with school wellness and nutrition programs, food pantries, and community coalitions to implement simple changes that make the healthy choice the easy choice. SNAP-Ed uses evidenced-based programs and hands-on assistance at locations that primarily serve low-income and at-risk families. “Our aim is to reach all the members of a family starting with the children in school, or at local food pantries and health departments through programs like WIC,” explains Skaradzinski. At food pantries, Skaradzinski uses the Nutrition Environment Food Pantry Assessment Tool (NEFPAT) to suggest the best possible options for food pantry inventories. Foods to Encourage (F2E) are used to give pantry patrons options for the food they’d like to feed their families. “Uniting pantries with the Giving Garden to provide fresh fruit and vegetable options while in season, helps patrons feel in control and empowered to choose what their family likes,” says Skaradzinski. Skaradzinski has a bachelor’s degree in food, nutrition and dietetics with a minor in environmental health from Illinois State University. She earned a master’s degree in nutrition and dietetics from Northern Illinois University, and simultaneously completed her dietetic internship. She is a registered dietitian nutritionist and licensed dietitian nutritionist in the state of Illinois.


The Giving Garden located in Whiteside County

SNAP-Ed: A Two-Pronged Approach

Miller helps with storing tips and recipe cards. “I’ll even

SNAP-Ed in Whiteside County uses a two-pronged

make the recipe and offer samples to coax people to try

approach to feeding at-risk populations. The program

it,” explains Miller.

partners with food pantries in the county for nutritional support and education. An essential component to this

Marcia Cruse facilitates projects at the Prophetstown

partnership is the local Giving Garden, which the

pantry. Like Miller, Cruse delivers programming for basic

program supports. Sheila Miller and Marcia Cruse are

nutrition, food safety, physical activity, and food

community workers, tasked with ensuring that both the

budgeting to low-income families.

partnership and the garden continue to thrive. As a solution to urge patrons to expand their dietary The Giving Garden was established by community

horizons, the NEFPAT method encourages small changes

members in 2016. The non-profit garden strives to

like product placement and nutrition messaging to

enhance daily meals for at-risk residents by providing

nudge guests toward selecting healthy food options.

fresh fruits and vegetables to shelters and food pantries

Cruse and Skaradzinski set up menu-style displays at the

in the Sauk Valley area. Extension’s role is to provide

pantry. By gathering all the items in a recipe and

financial and staff support through SNAP-Ed funds

grouping them together, they create visual inspiration

allocated to the support of the garden. Fruits and

for guests.

vegetables from the Giving Garden are delivered and distributed the same day they are picked to avoid waste

“We created displays featuring rice. With the visuals,

and spoilage.

people understood how to use it. Eighty-two percent of the people took the rice home,” explains Skaradzinski.

At the Salvation Army pantry, Miller provides education, recipes, and friendship to people who stop in. The facility, located in Sterling in Whiteside County serves an average of 450 individuals per month. “It’s a challenge getting guests to try fruits and vegetables they are unfamiliar with. We received a large delivery of lemon cucumbers. I had never tasted them, so I wasn’t sure how to convince others to take them home,” said Miller.

We created displays featuring rice. With the visuals, people understood how to use it. Eighty-two percent of the people took the rice home. VERONICA SKARADZINSKI, SNAP-ED EDUCATOR, PROPHETSTOWN PANTRY

“We set up a taste test area with slices of the round, yellow vegetable. Most people agreed to try them, some refused. It was fun learning about the lemon cucumber and several people took them home once they tasted them.” Food commodities, like dried beans are plentiful at food pantries, but patrons are reluctant to take them home because they may not know how to cook them. 2019 ILLINOIS EXTENSION IMPACT REPORT 7

4-H & Youth Development

4-H: More Than You Ever Imagined

Today’s 4-H youth development programs offer more than cows and cooking. Kids complete hands-on projects in areas like science, health, agriculture, and civic engagement. Currently, the most popular project areas are solar and robotics-focused. Kids as young as five can get involved in 4-H because the programs are grounded in the belief that kids learn best by doing. And they can still learn about cows and cooking, if they’d like. “What I love about the programs we offer in Carroll, Lee, and Whiteside counties is watching young people grow in confidence. Regardless of the project area, all 4-H programs include mentoring from adults, encouragement from peers,” said Janice McCoy, Extension county director. Through hands-on learning, kids build not only confidence, creativity, and curiosity, but also life skills, such as leadership and resiliency to help them thrive today and tomorrow. “Watching kids gain a broader understanding of the world around them, when they try something new and succeed, is very satisfying,” explains Martha Ebbesmeyer, Extension educator, 4-H youth development. “Seeing their excitement at accomplishing something they’ve worked hard at — the ah-ha moments — are so rewarding.” Kids can concentrate on one area, or they can try a variety of programs throughout their 4-H experience. “Focusing on service learning is a favorite area of mine,” said Kathy Book, the Lee County program coordinator. “Kids see the changes service projects create in other’s lives. They see what a domino effect doing good has on people and they want to do more.”

Top Three Project Areas

Visual Arts

A positive youth development model called BIGM is used by 4-H to hone skills and create direction. The acronym represents the values of Belonging, Independence, Generosity, and Mastery. “BIGM helps us to focus on growing leaders in ways that support kids. Team

Cooking Photography

members create their projects from start to finish, learn public speaking skills, take them to the fair, present them, and are evaluated by adult experts,” said Allie Johnston, Whiteside County program coordinator, 4-H and youth development. “I’ve been doing this for seven years and watching the kids learn, develop, mature, and succeed is the best part.”


Three Local 4-H Members Receive Scholarship Awards

Abigail Stichter, Whiteside County

The ceremony, held in October, recognized over 100 top

highlight of her 4-H experience and

participants in the state’s most successful youth

her greatest joy is using her hands in

development programs. College scholarships and

service of others. Stichter has served

Abigail Stichter believes service is the

national travel scholarships were awarded. Three 4-H

food to the homeless, made gifts for veterans, gathered

members from Carroll, Lee, and Whiteside counties

supplies for pet shelters, prepared birthday and

received awards at the celebration.

Christmas party kits for local food pantries, and countless other service projects.

Payton Erbsen, Carroll County Payton Erbsen has grown his Holstein

“4-H is lasting friendships, family values, opportunities,

dairy herd from one calf to 29 cows

and tradition. I appreciate that entire families can get

and 13 heifers over the past 10 years.

involved and adults provide mentoring and knowledge

His championships are numerous —

in an accepting yet challenging environment. Every 4-

most notable, grand and reserve grand champion at the

H’er can find their own fit,” declared Stichter. Stichter

Illinois Junior Holstein Show. He competed on the state’s

aspires to become a trauma physician at a rural hospital

national 4-H Dairy Judging and Dairy Quiz Bowl teams.

after she attends medical school.

“Being raised around cattle has determined my future

Carroll County Youth Places 4th in Nation at Horse Speaking Competition

career plans. Because of 4-H opportunities like being in the ring and representing 4-H at community organizations, I

Carroll County 4-H member, Olivia

have gained life skills to better serve the agriculture

Charles, won the formal senior

industry and future 4-H members,” explains Erbsen. He

division championship of the 2019

plans to study dairy science and agronomy at Kaskaskia

Illinois 4-H Horse Speaking Contest,

College with goals to improve the agricultural industry.

held April 13, in Urbana. One of 30 youth competing for the top prize, Charles advanced to

Amie Case, Lee County

the national competition last November in Louisville,

Amie Case is a talented quilter. She

Kentucky, where she placed fourth.

learned quilting and sewing in 4-H. She uses those skills to teach others

Her speech discussed the practice of using

to sew and, recently, to create

immunocontraception to control overpopulation of wild

memorable keepsakes for her family and community.

horse herds. Olivia presented both sides of the controversial

She used her grandfather’s shirts as material for pillows

contraception practice before stating her opinion: “I

and quilts for family keepsakes. As a county

advocate to inform and change public opinions.” The

Ambassador, she happily spreads the 4-H word to

Carroll County teen said the 4-H speaking contest helps

interested others.

her practice important skills she’ll need in life.

“4-H is a family that comes together to teach one

Olivia also earned the high point individual score in the

another different skills. It allows for kids to becomes

state 4-H Hippology Contest, held the same day. “My

adults with skills and know how to cook and sew on their

goal is to learn something new at each contest,” she said.

own,” said Case. Case plans to study nursing at St. Ambrose University with goals to be a traveling nurse

Youth advancing in the national contests are supported

and become a nurse practitioner.

with funds from the Illinois 4-H Foundation and its donors. University of Illinois Extension Equine Specialist Debra Hagstrom coordinates the 4-H horse studies program in Illinois.


Bilingual Coordinator Committed to Reaching Diverse Audiences

Establishing a foundation of understanding and mutual trust is Mary Finney’s goal as the new program

New Program Coordinator Joins 4-H and Youth Development in Carroll County

Molly Sedig loves the outdoors and has leveraged that

coordinator for 4-H and youth development, focusing on

affection into a career. As the newest member of the 4-H

the Latino population in Whiteside County.

and youth development team, she is eager to develop fresh programs to engage area youth, as well as continue

As Finney, who is bilingual, explores her job duties and

the already solid 4-H programs in Carroll County.

discovers the scope of her role with the Latino community, she understands that gaining the trust of

Thus far in her position, Sedig has partnered with

the Latino population is a slow process. “I, first, want to

Extension Master Naturalists to teach a native plant

build familiarity in the community. That way people will

series. She encourages outdoor program scheduling. “I

identify me with 4-H and Extension, which I feel will help

believe kids need to be exploring outdoors. Most kids

ease the gap and make for more open conversations

are nature deficient and I want to help change that,”

and instill trust,” explains Finney.

explains Sedig.

According to national 4-H research, the presence of staff

In 2019, Sedig offered an autumn brilliance guided hike

with a deep understanding of Latino culture and fluency

and photo op for youth interested in photography,

in Spanish enables 4-H to build the relationships and

hiking, or nature. The inaugural hike netted 17 youth

establish the trust that is needed. This takes sustained

participants. “The kids were excited for the new

effort over time. Project experience indicates that a

program. I was able to teach them about photography

minimum of three years is needed to establish this

and offer pointers when taking photos of the beautiful


autumn scenery. I hope to schedule more hikes in other seasons,” said Sedig.

The major barrier to Latino youth participation in community-based organizations is the fact that most

Sedig holds a bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois

parents have no prior experience with youth

University in recreation, parks and tourism

organizations. They lack an understanding of the

administration. “There is a longitudinal study that kids

benefits of such organizations and how to access them.

who participate in 4-H go to college, generally lead

Most importantly, they feel no connection and, thus,

healthier lifestyles, and more often give back to their

have no trust in them.

communities in adulthood. I enjoy being a positive influence on the youth in 4-H,” stated Sedig. “Kids are

Finney is utilizing the 4-H Latino Youth Outreach: Best

always going to give adults a new perspective, or present

Practices Toolkit as a guide to help her become an active

something through their eyes that we don’t see; it’s

catalyst for engaging Latino youth. “The Latino


population in Whiteside County is growing and I am looking forward to using tools provided by 4-H and Extension to create a proprietary program here in Whiteside county.” “In my role, I want to focus on empowerment to create exciting opportunities for the participants, help them connect with their Hispanic roots, but at the same time, encourage their participation in 4-H in multi-cultural contexts,” says Finney.


2019 Northern Illinois 4-H Camp Participants and Counselors

4-H Camp Counselors Grow Leadership Skills

In 2019, 154 campers, ages eight through 14, came for

Summer camp is a big deal for youth participating each

accomplishments. Fourteen counselors in training (CITs)

year, but it’s an even bigger deal for the camp

also participated in hands-on workshops during camp

counselors. A key factor in creating a successful week for

week to learn about opportunities and expectations as

the young participants is the support role provided by

a potential future camp counselor.

five days of overnight camp full of new experiences and

teen 4-H members, who volunteer as camp counselors. The highly competitive application process for counselor positions begins eight months prior to camp. Building a team of 25 4-H counselors starts with their first training in January. The annual summer camp is held at Rock River Christian Camp in Polo, part of Ogle County.

4-H is amazing at having a positive impact on the lives of youth and I love it! 4-H CAMP COUNSELOR

Counselors dedicate over 15 hours of training to prepare for their week with the young campers. University of Illinois 4-H educators and program coordinators lead the sessions. Training topics include understanding ages and stages of youth development, promoting positive behavior, and learning about safety procedures. Preparing the teen counselors for the week of 4-H camp encourages them to build not only the camper’s skills, but their own. “Being a camp counselor has helped me realize my self-worth and increased my leadership abilities,” noted one counselor. The team plans “camp-tivities” and evening programs; they lead team-building activities and work together to create a fun and safe learning environment for the campers. Teen counselors are responsible for groups of 25 youth participants throughout the camp week.


Family Life

LTC Offers TLC to Senior Health Care Professionals

The sessions, led by Belzer, are coordinated online in

Learning, Thinking, Caring (LTC) was born out of Karla

Illinois. Participation in all sessions is free, while CEUs

Belzer’s experience as a long-term care professional.

are available for a fee.

“I saw a need for senior health care professionals to

“I was thrilled at the amazing response to the program.

have informational resources and strategies to assist

Our series in 2019, saw participation of professionals

them in providing quality care to their clients,” explains

from 16 states and Canada with 80 to 100 registered for

Belzer. “Caregivers also need options for ways to avoid

each session,” said Belzer.

conjunction with the Continuing Ed Agency Institute of

burnout in this challenging profession. This program is a result of those concerns. Each individual a professional

Belzer has worked in the health and human services

cares for has different needs and poses unique care

field for the past 20 years, providing community-based


training and education on life issues affecting families, adults, and individuals as they age. She works closely

Long-term care professionals, and other professionals

with community groups and organizations serving

who work with older adults, now have an easy and

families, adults, and seniors. She has a bachelor's degree

convenient way to participate in professional

in recreation administration from Eastern Illinois

development, thanks to Belzer’s idea. University of

University and a master’s degree in therapeutic

Illinois Extension presented the first sessions in the

recreation from Indiana University.

three-part Learning, Thinking, Caring webinar series in the spring of 2017. The monthly, online educational program provides timely, research-based information and strategies for quality client care. Individuals and long-term care facilities are invited to participate in one, or all three webinars at no cost. Participation is convenient and can be done from a desktop, tablet, or smart phone.

2019 LTC Webinar Series

6 Sessions created in 2019

1,026 Total participants across 16 states and Canada

Topics for the series included:

Communication Challenges and Strategies for Helping People with Dementia

How High Do You Bounce? Workplace Resiliency in Long Term Care

Nutrient Needs of the Aging Adult


For more information on TLC, contact Karla Belzer at (815) 632-3611 or

Hold That Thought and Other Brain Flexors

You strive to live a healthy lifestyle. You may lift weights for bone health and muscle strength. You could walk or jog for cardiovascular resilience. You might engage in yoga or stretching for flexibility. You perhaps eat a balanced diet to stay at a healthy weight. But, what about your brain? When you think about a healthy lifestyle, do you include brain health? If not, it may leave your brain asking, “What have you done for me lately?”

University of Illinois Extension presented the Brain Architecture Game at the Sharing a Vision Conference for

“Brain health isn’t just for senior citizens,” says Karla

early childhood educators.

Belzer, Carroll-Lee-Whiteside unit’s family life educator. “Take care of your brain now. Don’t leave it to chance as

added benefit, serve to stem the risk of intellectual

you age. Or, if you are older, there are multiple ways to

decline in older citizens due to isolation and loneliness.

improve your cognitive responses if you’re noticing a

It’s a social exercise, too.

decline in memory.” Fits Wits is a program emphasizing how brain processes Hold That Thought is a workshop Extension offers to

work. Fun exercises include working on information

help participants look at their memory process and

storing, challenges and activities such as critical thinking,

reveal what researchers say contributes to brain health.

spatial reasoning, attention and recall, creative thinking,

Useful strategies for improving everyday forgetfulness

and visual optical illusion to give the brain a healthy

are offered. The 90-minute sessions include take-home


packets to entice family members and friends to engage in healthy brain exercises, too.

Head Strong teaches the causes of cognitive decline, contributors to healthy brains, and things individuals can

“People worry about forgetting,” explains Belzer. “It’s a

do to keep their brain healthy and engaged.

natural occurrence for everyone. Children and teens forget and typically don’t think twice about it. Adults

The Brain Architecture Game is offered as an employee

worry that something is wrong.”

training, team-building, and awareness vehicle aimed at community leaders, policymakers, government officials,

Everyone’s brain changes with age, and mental function

health providers, and educators. The game builds

varies along with it. Mental decline is common, and it's

understanding of the impact early childhood experiences

one of the most feared consequences of aging. But

have on brain development. Participants, in teams of

cognitive impairment is not inevitable. That’s why

four to six people, build a structure of straws and pipe

adopting a brain healthy lifestyle can reduce cognitive

cleaners representing a brain. Random life experience

decline due to the normal aging process. Benefits of

cards are drawn from a stack. Depending on the cards

managing your brain health include continued

drawn, the strength of the brain is established.

independence, reduction of chronic diseases, and better quality of life in general.

“The game is used to emphasize the effect of adverse childhood experiences on brain development. Then, the

Hold That Thought is just one in the variety of programs

impact on society is examined. The game is valuable for

Belzer manages that are geared toward brain processes

creating a common understanding and language on

and brain calisthenics. According to Belzer, each

these topics, and is useful to our communities by

program typically consists of three weekly sessions that

starting conversations geared toward programs focusing

not only help enhance cognitive maneuvers, but as an

on positive childhood encounters,” explains Belzer. 2019 ILLINOIS EXTENSION IMPACT REPORT 13


The Science and Art of Using Plants to Improve People’s Lives

In a rural community, it is sometimes taken for granted that plants and gardening are a way of life for its citizens. Not so, says Horticulture Educator Bruce Black. “Horticulture is a lost skill and has fallen away in schools, too. Shifts in the current culture to a more urban lifestyle have resulted in a decline in even general gardening skills.” Black is a native of Iowa and a graduate of Iowa State University. He holds a bachelor’s degree in horticulture, emphasis in fruit and vegetable production, and a master’s degree in professional agriculture. Through partnering with local schools, Black’s focus is on educating area kids on basic facets of horticulture. Trees, flowers, plants, and a love for the outdoors, are all included in the curriculum; but, most importantly, making personal connections with the nature around them is Black’s ultimate goal. Students learn to understand the

Monarchs on the Move Monarchs on the Move challenges youth to learn about

natural growth of plants — from seeds to sprouts to

monarch butterflies, pollination, and the need to work

flowers to fruits — and the impact that rain, drought,

together to be good stewards of the land. Lee County

and other forces of nature have on plant life.

Master Gardener Sherri Stauffer (pictured above) arrives to the program dressed as entomologist Maria Merian.

In 2019, Black taught a series at Challand Middle School

Merian was reported to be one of the first naturalists to

in Sterling, Illinois. The program began in September

record the life cycles of 186 insect species.

with a fresh group of seventh grade students, most with little to no idea what horticulture is. During the monthly

Lee County Program Coordinator Marilyn Kemmerer

session, Black helped the pupils recognize that

says, “We are happy when we can collaborate with other

horticulture is the catalyst for recognizable foods they

departments within Extension. For instance, Monarchs

eat. He created ties to important holidays in the

on the Move is an interdisciplinary program developed

student’s lives – Halloween pumpkins, Christmas trees,

with our 4-H staff. There are six lessons presented by

and Valentine’s Day flowers.

the 4-H team and Master Gardeners to fourth graders at Ashton-Franklin Elementary School.”

“The switch gets turned on very quickly for kids. They understand the link that plants are related to our daily lives. Many useful items come from plants and people ‘out there’ are growing products for use each day. The students are excited to learn how plants impact their life,” explains Black.

The switch gets turned on very quickly for kids. They understand the link that plants are related to our daily lives. The students are excited to learn how plants impact their life. BRUCE BLACK, HORTICULTURE EDUCATOR


Community Gardens Continue to Thrive The horticulture program includes assisting with community gardens, which is a favorite of Black’s. “Community gardening is very rewarding to me. I enjoy helping people of all ages with knowledge and skills they can use in the community garden and then use to start their own garden at home.” Black says in the five years that he has been with Illinois Extension, interest in small-scale gardens has increased and are also growing in popularity with new millennials. This newfound connectedness to nature fosters respect and concern for the environment. Those who participate

Carroll County Master Gardeners Nancy Gmitro, Terry Lattin,

in hands-on garden programs develop greater concern

and Marcia Zell are pictured with the teamwork award.

and awareness of resource conservation and allocation than those who do not. The strongest responses result from involvement with active gardening. Partnering with local Master Gardeners, the yearly program provides opportunities and knowledge for both recreational gardening and food production in underutilized spaces in the area. But, most importantly, the garden brings people of different generations together to work on a common goal. Community gardens are great for the environment in several ways. Food grown locally reduces greenhouse gases produced by long distance transportation of food. Gardens also contribute to biodiversity of species and help to support populations of pollinators. Finally, community gardens bring people together and may reduce crime rates in neighborhoods by increasing visibility and engaging citizens in positive initiatives.

Carroll County Seed Library Expands Quickly

An idea that started — well, as a seed — has sprouted into an award-winning program for the Carroll County Master Gardeners. A local donation of seeds in the spring of 2016, started the first free seed library in Carroll County. The Carroll County Master Gardeners teamed up with the Mt. Carroll Public Library and 4-H Jr. Ambassadors to offer gardening classes to families in Carroll County. Participants took home free herb, vegetable, and flower seeds, along with growing instructions to encourage home gardening. The collaboration continued to grow over the next three years, with three more libraries in Carroll County and five libraries each in Lee and Whiteside counties, for a total of 14 libraries hosting educational workshops and seed libraries.

Community gardens contribute

The seed library project was a new approach to the food

to a healthy lifestyle by:

access problem. According to Feeding America’s Mind

    

Providing fresh, safe, affordable herbs, fruits,

the Meal Gap 2015 Study, 10.9% of Carroll County

and vegetables

families are food insecure. Access to healthy food has a

Helping to relieve stress and increase a sense of

major influence on overall health and well-being of


individuals and families. Many families facing food

Getting people active, which improves overall

access issues may also be facing issues of limited

physical health

transportation, limited financial resources, and other

Offering social opportunities that build a sense

realities of poverty. Teaching families how to garden and

of community and belonging

offering them free seeds will help over time with the

Giving people an opportunity to learn and share

food access problem.

knowledge on gardening, nature, and cooking


Ag & Natural Resources

Helping Others Learn to Grow Mary Nelson and Marilyn Kemmerer are on a mission. Their goal is to educate individuals on the importance of taking care of our natural resources, while developing and enhancing community programs related to horticulture. As ag and natural resources program coordinators in Extension, they coordinate logistics and volunteers for commercial agriculture and natural resource programs. They primarily focus on Master Gardener and Master Naturalist projects. Nelson works mainly in Whiteside County, while Kemmerer concentrates on Lee County, although they do have area projects that overlap.

Whiteside County Master Gardeners pose for a picture after their shade garden work day.

“Master Gardener programs train volunteer individuals

Nelson worked with Whiteside County Master Gardeners

in the science and art of gardening. These individuals

to create a shade garden and develop a corresponding

then pass on that information as volunteers in

informational booklet for the public to use when

communities who advise and educate the public

researching and planting their shade gardens. In 2019,

on gardening and horticulture,” explains Kemmerer.

the group received the Outstanding Master Gardener Award for this project.

Master Gardeners receive 60 hours of training from Extension educators and state specialists from the

“The group started the project in 2017, creating the

University of Illinois. The training results in skilled

garden and bringing plants from their personal gardens

volunteers sharing unbiased, reliable, research-based

to share with the project,” said Nelson.

information with home landscapers and gardeners. Another important function is to encourage young

The garden is growing magnificently near the Whiteside

people to enjoy the pleasures of flower and vegetable

County Extension office. In 2019, the accompanying


booklet designed for the public was completed. It contains information on each plant in the garden with

“I help create programs based on projects suggested by

common and scientific name, plant family, height and

the public, then coordinate programing to get

weight, the hardiness zone the plant thrives best in, and

community volunteers and develop the logistics and

other aspects growers need to know when planting in

schedule for the program whether it’s an hour, a day, or

shady areas.

a week-long program,” says Nelson. Also in 2019, the first workshop was held. Gardening Extravaganza included a presentation on the shade

70 Master Volunteers

4,723 Volunteer Hours

$127,001 Value to Communities

garden that included shade-loving plants not found in the demonstration garden, as well as a tour of the shade garden. It’s been a lot of fun and a great success. The group came together and worked hard developing the garden and the booklet. “Staying certified as a Master Gardener requires 30 hours of volunteer work per year, and they exceed that every year. They’re eager to give of their time for presentations at nursing homes, schools, or with other community groups,” says Kemmerer.


Master Gardeners are committed individuals. Their dedication is awe-inspiring and the best part is the excitement they have for what they do. MARILYN KEMMERER LEE COUNTY PROGRAM COORDINATOR

Ag Programming Continues to Grow Nelson takes the lead in coordinating educational events, like the annual Illinois Cattle Feeders’ Day held at Sauk Valley Community College in Dixon.

According to Kemmerer, “The typical Master Gardener demographic is 50 or older, but they are all active individuals.” Kemmerer creates a yearly topic list that matches focus for the many programs she helps to coordinate. Preschool children learn basics of soil and water, which seeds grow flowers and which vegetables, all through programs she coordinates with her Master Gardeners. Several Master Gardeners volunteer at nursing homes in Carroll, Lee, and Whiteside counties. Nelson and Kemmerer both work to fit trainings to the wants, goals, and needs of the community – from preschoolers to senior citizens. “I share the same philosophy with the Master Gardeners. They are a great group of likeminded people; are passionate about their favorite topics; are active, social, and believe volunteering is good for folks and the community,” Kemmerer says. Mary Nelson works closely with Master Naturalists, too, delivering educational programs, completing continuing education, and working with community partners on projects, including restoration of natural areas, like the Nachusa Grasslands in Lee County. The program educates and trains adult volunteers, so they are better equipped to share natural resource information with others in their communities, and to assist with environmental conservation and restoration activities. Think of them as stewards of large area nature, such as forests and grasslands, as opposed to Master Gardeners, who are concerned with gardens, beautification, and home ornamental projects.

“The meeting is held to achieve the commercial agriculture goal of assisting farmers in Illinois by improving sustainable farming practices, teaching new technologies, and improving their financial situations,” says Nelson. In 2019, Illinois cattlemen and cattlewomen heard from several experts and were offered an option to attend the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) training. Travis Meteer, beef cattle educator for University of Illinois Extension, facilitated the day with presentations by Kent Bacus, director of international trade and market access for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association; Jim Lowe, associate professor in the University of Illinois at Urbana -Champaign’s College of Veterinary Medicine; Josh McCann, assistant professor in Illinois’ Department of Animal Sciences; and Brian Dorcey, beef technical services veterinarian with Zoetis. A market update and outlook were presented by Lance Zimmerman, an analyst with CattleFax. “A program topic that grew out of the Cattle Feeders Day was animal mortality composting. I then coordinated a day-long program to inform farmers on regulations in the animal composting process, practical concerns, and onsite demonstrations at an active composting site,” described Nelson, who has worked in Extension for eight years. “That’s how my programming evolves and changes each year. It’s exciting to be part of new trainings and heartening to continue the successful programs we’ve had for years.” 2019 ILLINOIS EXTENSION IMPACT REPORT 17

Ag & Natural Resources

Hemp: A Misunderstood Commodity

The level of THC in hemp is limited to .03%, or three-

Farmers and environmentalists have long sought a

tenths of 1%, in order to be compliant with Illinois

product that grows quickly, affords multiple uses, and

regulations. Our goal is to ensure growers use seeds

needs little or no dangerous pesticides to flourish. That

from reputable seed suppliers to achieve a crop that is

marvel commodity does, in fact exist and has been

viable and valuable,” Alberti clarifies.

known sarcastically throughout most of the 20th century as “ditch weed.” Hemp.

In 2019, 900 potential growers submitted applications, and 600 licenses were granted. Those licenses provided

In 2018, former Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed

permission for 20,000 acres to be planted. Hemp can

the Industrial Hemp Act, legalizing the growth of hemp.

yield three to eight dry tons of fiber per acre, which is

In December 2018, Congress passed a farm bill legalizing

four times what an average forest can yield; and hemp

industrial hemp production in the United States. That’s

grows in months, not years, like trees. Because of

when Phillip Alberti’s job started to evolve.

hemp’s long fibers, the products will be stronger and/or lighter than those made from wood.

Alberti, an ag educator for commercial agriculture,

Much of the bird seed sold in the U.S. has hemp seed

housed in the Stephenson County Extension office,

(imported from other countries) because its hulls

doesn’t spend much time there lately, due to the

contain approximately 25% protein. This protein is

enormous demand for hemp information. Traveling

hugely important as a food for migratory birds.

throughout Illinois, providing three-hour presentations, Alberti helps hopeful growers navigate the emerging

But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Growers need to

market of the crop, and understand land ownership,

be educated on the finer points of hemp in order to

licensing, and consumer regulations. “I’m thrilled to be

grow crops that are production-worthy. Phillip Alberti is

involved at the cusp of this new Illinois industry. My goal

taking the lead in Extension. He holds a bachelor’s

is to help people save money by knowing what is

degree in molecular biology and botany from the

involved from licensing to growing to harvesting hemp. I

University of Wisconsin, Madison and a master’s degree

help them decide a direction with information they can

in row crop production from South Dakota State

use to be successful,” he explains.


“Although both hemp and marijuana plants are from the

“This is an extremely rewarding job,” says Alberti. “I look

species cannabis, hemp contains virtually no THC (delta-

forward to being part of this new industry helping Illinois

9-tetrahydrocannabinol), the active ingredient in

growers navigate the process and watching it flourish.

marijuana. Hemp cannot be used as a psychoactive drug

This versatile cash crop has the potential to empower

because it produces virtually no THC (less than 1%),

small farmers and revitalize farming communities in

whereas marijuana produces between 5% and 20% THC.



Staff Directory Carroll-Lee-Whiteside

Janice McCoy County Director

Karla Belzer Family Life Educator

Bruce Black Horticulture Educator

Martha Ebbesmeyer Youth Development Educator

Veronica Skaradzinski SNAP-Ed Educator

Extension Council Members Thank you to the individuals who serve on our CLW Extension Council. The Extension Council provides guidance to Extension staff when determining programming and Marcia Cruse Illinois Nutrition Education Program

Sheila Miller Illinois Nutrition Education Program

Sunny Porter Whiteside Office Support

outreach efforts. Katie Armstrong


Tony Brown Terry Durham


Nikki Ebersole


Jean Eggemeyer

Mary Finney Whiteside Latino 4-H Coordinator

Mary Nelson Whiteside ANR Coordinator


Greg Gates


Rachel Hill


Gene Jacoby Allie Johnston Whiteside 4-H Coordinator


Rock Falls

Jill Larson


Pam Martinez


Ethel Richard


Carol Schnaiter


Teresa Smith Mark Wand

Dixon Prophetstown

Jodi York

Jane Shaw Carroll Office Support

Molly Sedig Carroll 4-H Coordinator

Susan O’Connor Unit Marketing & Fund Development


Education Outreach

27,623 Client Reached

1,442 Program Sessions

1,931 Total Followers Across 5 Facebook Pages Mary Sheridan Unit Office Support

Kathy Book Lee 4-H Coordinator

Marilyn Kemmerer Lee ANR Coordinator

352 Newsletters / News Releases 2019 ILLINOIS EXTENSION IMPACT REPORT 19

Lee County 4-H member showing his baked goods at the 4-H fair.

OFFICE LOCATIONS Whiteside Main Office

Lee Branch Office

Carroll Branch Office

12923 Lawrence Rd.

280 W. Wasson Rd.

807 D S. Clay St.

Sterling, IL 61081

Amboy, IL 61310

Mt. Carroll, IL 61053

(815) 632-3611

(815) 857-3525

(815) 244-9444

Fax: (815) 716-8922

Fax: (815) 857-3527

Fax: (815) 244-3708



Cover photos: (top left) Brain Architecture Game participants at the Sharing a Vision Conference, (top right) Carroll County 4-H Ambassadors Natalie Wilkinson and Olivia Charles, (bottom left) Lee County Master Gardener Sherri Stauffer presenting a preschool program, (bottom right) Woodworking workshop participant at Woodlawn Academy

University of Illinois ~ U.S. Department of Agriculture ~ Local Extension Councils Cooperating University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in any program, please contact the county Extension office. The Illinois Nutrition Education Program is funded by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the US Department of Agriculture by the Director, Cooperative Extension Service, and University of Illinois. Š Copyright 2020 University of Illinois Board of Trustees

Profile for Illinois 4-H

2019 Carroll-Lee-Whiteside Annual Impact Report  

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