National 4-H Week is especially exciting this year for Tina Veal, Illinois 4-H alumni and constituent engagement manager.

Veal, who is the first in the nation with her new role working with alumni, is using this year’s 4-H celebration to connect with past 4-H members. Nationally, there are 25 million Americans who share this unique alumni bond.

“We’re hoping to create a lifelong connection to our 4-H alumni with a free membership in the Illinois 4-H Alumni Association,” she said.

The Illinois 4-H Alumni Association was founded in 2016 to increase awareness, volunteerism and philanthropic commitment to Illinois 4-H, she said.

Alumni members pulled through this year when everything at state and county fairs moved to online judging because of the pandemic, said Pat McGlaughlin, Illinois 4-H Extension specialist who leads the state in volunteer development. She said many alumni virtual judges provided great feedback for more than 2,000 virtual exhibitors this year.

Veal encourages past alumni to register online at “to stay current on Illinois 4-H programs, learn about alumni opportunities, engage as volunteers, or network with others.”

“We want to remain connected to our 4-H alumni to see the impacts they made in their careers and communities,” Veal said.

Another person making an impact is Michelle Wegmann, a Clinton County 4-H leader and volunteer, who was among 87 people named to the 2020 Illinois 4-H Foundation Hall of Fame on Aug. 18 at a virtual induction.

“Service is a hallmark of the Illinois 4-H program,” said Elaine Craver, Illinois Extension communication coordinator.

Wegmann, of New Baden, has been a 4-H leader for 13 years with the 4-H Clovers & Cloverettes in Southern Illinois and was involved with 4-H several years before that.

“She is dedicated to watching the kids make lasting memories and grow into young leaders,” said Cheryl Timmermann, the Clinton County 4-H coordinator.

Wegmann has served on many committees contributing ideas and time.

“She and her family played an important role in organizing the very successful Dairy Days event that continues annually to educate youth on dairy and agriculture,” Timmermann said.

Also joining the 2020 4-H Hall of Fame this year is Terry Mulvany, a Marion County man whose involvement with 4-H was through his role with the Marion County Agriculture Fair. In addition to being assistant secretary on the fairgrounds and helping arrange what the 4-Hers needed, he cheered them on at the fair and was disappointed this year’s was canceled.

“I’ll be at the next fair,” he said.

Phyllis Coulter is Northern Illinois field editor, writing for Illinois Farmer Today, Iowa Farmer Today and Missouri Farmer Today.