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University of Illinois Extension serving Jo Daviess, Stephenson and Winnebago Counties

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Highland Community College, Bldg R
2998 W Pearl City Rd
Freeport, IL 61032
Phone: 815-235-4125
FAX: 815-232-9006
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204 Vine, PO Box 600
Elizabeth, IL 61028
Phone: 815-858-2273
FAX: 815-858-2274

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650 North Main St
Rockford, IL 61103
Phone: 779-423-0982

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1040 North Second Street
Rockford, IL 61107
Phone: 815-986-4357
FAX: 815-986-4329

News Release

Alpine Bank invests in U of I Extension youth programming

University of Illinois Extension recently accepted a donation of $10,000 from Alpine Bank to be used for youth development programs in the Rockford area.  University of Illinois Extension is the flagship outreach effort of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Extension offers high quality, research-based education to residents throughout the state.  In Rockford, there is a wide range of youth development programs in partnership with schools, after-school programs and community centers.  Alpine Bank is committed to supporting and strengthening the community, and is pleased to support U of I Extension’s youth development programs.  “We are grateful to Alpine Bank for their continued support of our youth development programming, and their partnership with the innovative efforts of our Youth Development Educator, Annie Hobson, who works exclusively in Rockford,” stated Margaret Larson, County Extension Director. “I see this as the beginning of a new era, which will see our efforts expand and grow due to increased community partnerships.”

The partnership between Alpine Bank and U of I Extension began at a Transform Rockford event.  From there, Alpine Bank began supporting the 4-H Police Academy with in-kind donations such as backpacks, booklets and lanyards for each of the students.  Jim Corbett, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, said, “Alpine Bank was happy to support the program because it touches kids in need and fits with Alpine Bank’s philosophy of giving.”  The 4-H Police Academy reaches about 300 fifth grade students each session and has been hosted at Lewis Lemon Elementary School, Barbour Two-Way Language Immersion School, Conklin Elementary School, Ellis Elementary School, Nelson Elementary School and Whitehead Elementary School. 

4-H Police Academy was designed to give fifth-grade youth the opportunity to positively engage with local law enforcement through a more encouraging and optimistic interaction.  University of Illinois Extension 4-H Youth Development Metro Educator, Annie Hobson and City of Rockford’s School Liaison officers, Officer Turner and Officer Tillmon, worked together to create a program that would give youth a deeper look into law enforcement and teach them how to react if approached by an officer of the law.  Initial goals for students focused on building relationships with law enforcement, understanding the duties of an officer and other careers in the field, learning how to interact with authority, how to dodge negative influences, being ready for middle school, and how to be effective in your community.  This upcoming year, Police Academy will begin at Welsh Elementary School. 

Corbett stated that “due to the huge success of this program, Alpine Bank wanted to do something a little more significant,” leading to the monetary donation. U of I Extension’s youth development staff has several plans for utilizing these funds, including enhancing leadership programs with middle and high school students.  Hobson shares, “the goal of these leadership programs is to engage teens in developing 21st century skills they need to be employable.”  This includes working on resume building, developing effective communication skills, learning how to deal with conflict and how to work with others, and working on team building.  The objective of this program is to work on goal setting and help lead teens towards a career or trade they will be interested in.

Another school-based program this donation will help support is Farming in the Classroom, which is a collaboration between Hobson and her Extension colleague, Grant McCarty, Local Foods and Small Farms Educator.  Farming in the Classroom teaches third-grade students where their food comes from.  Topics covered in the sessions include food miles, plant families, and how to grow different crops.  Along with learning about different fruits and vegetables, students get to sample these foods.  So far, Hobson and McCarty have visited third-grade classes at Jackson Elementary School, Conklin Elementary School, Whitehead Elementary School and Lewis Lemon Elementary School. 

As a result of the partnership between Alpine Bank and the U of I Extension, a Financial Literacy program will soon be available to a leadership group at East High.  Hobson and Martesha Brown, Community Outreach Officer of Alpine Bank, will present five sessions where youth will learn about career choices, having credit vs. no credit, checking and savings accounts, and bill paying.  These lessons will take place over four weeks, and then in a fifth session, the students will participate in a simulation where they will take what they have learned and put these skills to work. 

Brown is excited to work on this program with Hobson.  She stated, “I am out and about in the community and I think that the work that Annie has been doing in unbanked neighborhoods is great and aligns with our community outreach programs.”  Corbett followed up that, “We at Alpine Bank don’t look at this simply as a donation but look at it as an investment.” 

Source: Antionette Hobson, Extension Educator, 4-H Youth Development, Metro,

Local Contact: Samantha Burbach, Program Coordinator,