The National 4-H Council today announced the winners of the 2023 Youth In Action Awards, a national program that recognizes four young leaders with diverse backgrounds and perspectives who have positively impacted their communities in a 4-H core pillar area: Civic Engagement, Healthy Living, Agriculture (sponsored by Bayer), and STEM (sponsored by HughesNet).
The winners will receive a $5,000 higher education scholarship and spend 2023 inspiring other youth by telling their 4-H story and celebrating their leadership. In addition, they will have opportunities to showcase their nationally, network with prominent 4-H alumni, and serve as the official 4-H youth spokesperson for their pillar.
“We are proud to honor our 2023 Youth in Action winners, a group of exceptional young people who have overcome obstacles and made an incredible impact on their communities through Cooperative Extension’s 4-H programs,” said Jennifer Sirangelo, president & CEO or the National 4-H Council. “By empowering these stand-out youth and fostering their skills to make change, they in turn can inspire thousands of other young people to make a difference. When given the tools they need to lead, 4-H’ers like Matias, Sruthi, Norah, and Nicole are becoming the next generation of changemakers in their communities and for our country. ”
The announcement was made as part of National 4-H Week, held now through Oct. 8 to celebrate and showcase the opportunities and impact that 4-H offers young people across the country.
The winners of the 2023 4-H Youth in Action Awards are:
Sruthi Sudarsan, 17, San Ramon, California — Civic Engagement
After facing obstacles around social anxiety, Sudarsan gained the skills and courage to speak up through 4-H. Using that confidence, she organized a mask-making program during the pandemic to serve the unhoused population in the Bay Area community, ultimately delivering 13,000 masks to shelters and clinics. She also launched her own organization that addresses health needs for underprivileged communities and started a mentorship program to empower kids with skills to identify community needs and develop creative solutions to make change.
Matias Habib, 17, Sandwich, Illinois — Agriculture
When a Japanese beetle infestation threatened his family’s orchard, Habib researched and developed his own bio-pesticide, TerraBuster. With the help of 4-H, he funded his business, filed for a patent, and is expanding to other products. 4-H helped Habib overcome childhood challenges — struggling with social anxiety and alienation after moving to the US. Through his 4-H science program he found community, confidence, and empowerment to make a change.
Norah Carter, 18, Gibsonia, Pennsylvania — Healthy Living
Throughout the pandemic, Carter helped other youth develop coping skills and mental health resilience utilizing the skills she learned through her own life with a disability. She adapted 4-H curricula to be taught online and conducted a workshop series on healthy living for three unique groups: previously-incarcerated youth, suburban tweens and urban teens.
Nicole Cash, 20, Farmington, Minnesota — STEM
As an LGBTQ youth, Cash experienced rejection within her community until finding acceptance within her local 4-H club. 4-H gave her the leadership skills to lead her robotics team and create an affordable mobility device for disabled children out of a Power Wheels car. She founded her own nonprofit chapter and updates an online manual so other robotics clubs can make these devices as well.
The 4-H Youth in Action Awards, sponsored in part by Bayer and HughesNet, began in 2010 to recognize 4-H’ers who have overcome challenges and used the knowledge they gained in 4-H to create a lasting impact in their community.