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THIS WEEK: A racial awareness with the 4-H

The Illinois youth agriculture program is taking a second look at its role in the entire community

CHAMPAIGN, Illinois — Leaders of the University of Illinois Extension's 4-H program say they want to meet racial issues head on.

"This is a very relevant work for us to be doing," said Illinois 4-H Director Dr. Lisa Bouillion Diaz during an interview on "News 8 THIS WEEK with Jim Mertens".

Organizers of the Illinois 4-H decided to take a deep look at its role in racial injustice and disparity after demonstrations and rallies rang out for racial justice during the Summer of 2020.

"The relevance of this topic to us is really around recognizing that while we have an aspiration to serve all youth," said Diaz.

Listen to our entire interview with Dr. Lisa Bouillion Diaz on THE CITIES Podcast.

The 4-H is known for livestock and other competitions at county and State fairs.

Its 150 staff members and 20,000 volunteers help mold 200,000 young Illinois farmers and students living in rural areas.

So you might think what happens down on the farm is very distant from what you see in the city.

"We still have a lot of hard work to do in figuring out how to be as equally relevant and connected to other audiences we haven't historically served," said Dr. Diaz.

4-H has a long history of community projects and service for the larger good.

Now, it will create a task force to better serve marginalized youth...

It will take steps specific in Illinois in an effort be more inclusive, creating more opportunities for all and inspiring those with greater aspirations

"We really need to stop and do the honest work, the hard of recognizing the ways that our program is getting in the way of that aspiration," added Diaz.

The Illinois 4-H has also created a task force to focus on new opportunities for members who might think they're being marginalized.

"Talent is everywhere.. opportunity in not," said Diaz.

Watch "News 8 THIS WEEK with Jim Mertens" every Sunday morning at 10 on WQAD News 8.