Four-H Southeast Regional representative Christine Tew has recited these words of the 4-H pledge time and again.
Tew, 17, and her family moved from Florida to the Commerce area in the summer of 2000. Her family had been a part of 4-H and her mother was a leader. With no club in the Commerce region, the Tew family formed the River Ridge 4-H in the fall of 2000.
Four-H is designed to help young people grow with their accomplishments. This organization, which is a branch of the cooperative extension office, aids 5- to 21-year-olds to "reach their fullest potential" through developing life skills, learning by doing and utilizing the knowledge of the land-grant university system.
Four-H offers a variety of projects, programs and activities, giving every member an opportunity to do well and be rewarded with a purple, blue, red, white or participation ribbons. Not only are youth involved, but many parents, volunteers and extension staff aid the group. A variety of activities are involved in 4-H, including fairs, camps, state youth gatherings, national events, an international youth exchange and collegiate 4-H.
Tew has been a member of 4-H for 10 years. Last year, she decided to run as a regional representative to the 4-H State Council.
"After working with representatives from previous years, I desired the opportunity to serve Missouri 4-H by providing leadership and encouraging younger youth to become involved as I have done," Tew said.
In January, she and other potential candidates submitted two to three-page applications accompanied by essays. The field was then narrowed to a number determined by the county; they were interviewed in March.
From these interviews, a slate with a maximum of nine candidates was developed and sent to the state office. At the state conference in June, Tew spoke twice to the delegates of the Southeast Region and campaigned throughout the three-day conference.
Being the presiding officer of the Regional Team Council, which pulls representatives from each surrounding community, is just one of Tew's duties. "I'm responsible for attending 4-H events in our region," Tew said.
These events range from county achievement nights to garage sales.
Tew also has several duties as a council member. The 36-member council meets several times throughout the year to plan upcoming events. These meetings take place in Columbia, with the exception of one, which is held in Sedalia, right before the State Fair. At this meeting, council members exhibit their community service by cleaning out barns.
"The council's main focus is putting on two conferences a year -State Teen Conference in February and State Conference in June." Tew said. These events are held in Columbia.
As a council member, Tew has several responsibilities at these conferences. At the two-day Teen Conference for 12- and 13-year- olds, she worked with state representatives to host sessions and facilitate workshops.
"I also helped lead tours of the MU (University of Missouri-Columbia) campus," Tew said.
Tew's duties for State Congress are the same, but geared toward 14 - to 18-year-olds.
"I'm looking forward to Congress because you are surrounded by hundreds of other 4-Her's just as excited and enthusiastic about being there as you are. It is a positive environment," Tew said.
At this year's Congress, she is once again running as a Southeast Regional representative. The election procedures are the same for this year as they were last year.
Tew finds her work as a representative very rewarding. She said: "The kids see when you get older, you can go on all these trips. It gets them excited about getting involved. Knowing I can influence them is a great feeling."
Tew is the daughter of Dennis and Cindy Tew of Commerce.
To learn more about Missouri 4-H, visit the Web site at www.4h.missouri.edu.