Kristopher Shramek

Kristopher Shramek, center

4-H has been a great experience for me.

I just completed my 10th year in Spring Branch Helping Hands 4H Club. My projects this year were Swine, Photography, Foods, Financial Literacy, Leadership, Golf and Career Exploration. I will be serving as president of the club this year.

I am a senior at Troy Buchanan High School, where I am an honor roll student. My activities include Show Choir, Choir, Student Council, National Honor Society and musical productions.

Serving as past secretary, treasurer and vice president of my club – and past president and social chair of the county Teen Leaders – has provided my with many opportunities to lead club meetings and to prepare and give reports.

It has taken me out of my comfort zone and prepared me for more leadership roles, like stepping up as team captain of a Relay for Life of Lincoln County team the past three summers. I have a passion for the Relay, because my grandfather had cancer twice and my mother had four close friends with cancer.

My involvement in 4-H from learning, doing, mentoring, documenting and reporting has given me the confidence and knowledge to be able to do this. I feel like my involvement in 4-H has opened my eyes to the many needs in this world, and has opened my heart to serve and help. In this process, I have helped others to join in and have done a small part in the fight against cancer.

I have been told I have a good speaking voice. I am not afraid to speak in front of an audience. I have developed these skills and confidence from doing demonstrations, participating in public speaking, extemporaneous speaking, achievement review and being the club’s treasurer, secretary, vice president and past social chair of the Lincoln County 4-H Teen Leaders.

I also have good communication skills in the written form. I have done a good job in the past presenting minutes and writing articles for our local newspaper about our club’s activities. I have found that I have increased my skills in communicating through writing by filling out project records, Missouri recognition forms and writing speeches.

Being able to communicate is a must in being a good leader. Giving a speech at my eighth-grade graduation, emceeing the county 4-H king and queen coronation, holding 4-H offices and doing demonstrations at the local, county and state levels are evidence that I excel in this.

I also communicate with the county 4-H community through technology. The Teen Leaders used to keep the Lincoln County 4-H Facebook up to date. My goal is to be able to write essays and compete scholarship applications effectively for college.

I believe that the way I was raised by my parents has influenced my ability to respect others and their opinions. I do not have to agree with them, but I feel like I can listen to them with the goal of understanding them. This makes it easier to get along with club members when we are working along each other and making decisions during club meetings.

I also try to remember to thank people for helping, even if it is the smallest of things. Serving on committees can be interesting, challenging and a great learning experience. Members will have differing views.

As a team, we weed through all the ideas and figure out what is best for everyone. I am in a club that has been “Club of the Year,” or runner-up many times. We find pride in that. We work hard to accomplish goals that help us to attain that title.

As new families join our club, we explain the benefits that the individuals receive from attaining these goals, and try to encourage them. Not everyone will find this important – and in the end – it is his or her choice. All we can do is encourage them.

I believe this kind of encouragement is what helps our club and each individual member like myself attain their goals.

I have learned many things through 4-H projects. To be self-sufficient, you need to be a lifelong learner. I have been in swine all 10 years I have been in 4-H, and I still could learn a lot more in that area.

I believe if you want to know something you have not been taught, you need to dig in and do some research on your own and figure it out. It also helps to ask questions. People are willing to teach you if they know what you want to learn.

As a Teen Leader, we have presented a judging clinic to 4-Hers of all ages. I find it hard to work with both the younger children and older teens. It is hard for the younger children to understand what it means to judge and to come up with reasons. Some of the teens seem bored and/or uninterested. It takes the experience for you to learn what will work better.

I learned it is better to split the groups into beginning 4-Hers and more experienced 4-Hers. Separating them makes it easier to communicate and get the results you want.

My decision-making skills have improved through 4-H. We must vote on things at every 4-H club meeting, Teen Leader meeting and 4-H council meeting. We must know what we are voting on and decide how we feel about the subject, weighing the pros and cons.

I have been involved in the American Red Cross Blood Drive since I joined 4-H. There is always a blood shortage, and I feel we should be involved in such an important thing. My sister could have died if she had not had a transfusion. I decided to volunteer to head it up.

I set up signup sheets for donations and volunteers. I helped to call donors and put appointments on the Red Cross website with my mom’s help. This was a huge undertaking, because I had to set up the building for the Red Cross – as well as clean it up. I think people respected me for wanting to do this and some helped me if they were available.

Managing time, money and people can be a tough job. One resource that I think has helped our club use more wisely is people and their time. We do a lot of community service projects, and we try to get every family involved by donating one hour of their time to the service we pick. That way, no one is doing too much.

4-H has also helped me to manage my own time. Having many projects and many meetings has made me keep a calendar of my activities, and keep track of when things are due, like entry forms and reports at the end of the year. Now that I drive and work, I must be even more diligent at keeping on top of managing my time.

I have saved my earnings from my job and from my livestock project. I have been able to buy myself a car and paid for an EF Tour to Costa Rica last summer with my high school. Through being a 4-H treasurer, I have learned a lot about money, how to keep a checkbook and balance a bank statement. I know how to keep an accurate and reliable treasurer report.

I found that if you want to be a part of something big and important, like the Relay for Life, or an American Red Cross Blood Drive, you must take charge and implement it yourself. Most people do not like to take charge.

I think it is mainly because it is something new to them, and they are uncertain of what it entails, or they are afraid of getting stuck with doing all the work themselves. I have found it is hard to be a teenager and to tell other teens and children that are about my age what to do.

I found that it is easier to get them to decide on their own what their responsibility will be. I feel that I have accomplished many things in 4-H because I have always taken the initiative to sign up for the many opportunities put before me. This has led me to have many experiences working with many diverse people.

If you think 4-H could be something you or someone you know would be interested in joining, please give Rhonda Shafer a call at the University of Missouri Extension Office at (636) 528-4613. The 2020-2021 4-H year starts now!