Going & Growing Newsletter

Hello, Iím Alexia Gegare, your National President, but everyone calls me Lexi. I live in a little town of about 4,000 people in Wisconsin. I graduated last year from Milton High School and am a freshman at the University of Wisconsin - Rock County. I am pursuing a degree in Recreational Therapy with minors in Horticulture and Music. I am involved in Jazz choir and musicals at school since music and dance are my passion. I teach Pre Ballet and Voice at Step Up Performing Arts Academy, where I also just assisted with a community production for Christmas. I have been very active in Milton FFA with my Horticulture CDE and I was on the Floriculture judging team for 4 years. This year I will be helping to coach the team and look forward to becoming an Alumni member of FFA. I am the Vice President of the Milton 4-H club and have been active in 4-H for 13 years. I currently serve as the Rock County 4-H Fair Queen and was recently awarded Miss Congeniality at the State Fairest of the Fair competition. I belong to Milton Grange where I am the Lecturer and at the Wisconsin State Grange I hold the office of Ceres. I work part time at Milton Senior Living as an Activity Aid and like hanging out with my friends and 2 cats Zoey and Molly.

This year in NJHA as National President, I plan to bring back some of the NJHA Traditions. One neat thing and you might have noticed last year if you attended convention, the flag ceremony at the closing banquet was different. Instead of people marching in with their flag, we changed it up. People came in, proud of holding their flag, and did a drill to the music. One other thing that I would like to see happen, is table decorations. In past years, the closing banquet has been decorated with wonderful arrangements. This last convention was great having a workshop on arranging flowers and thankfully we could use the arrangements at the banquet. There are also some other traditions that I would like to see happen at future conventions, so you will have to attend to find out.

As President, I have many goals this year. Communication with the officer team and Youth Coordinators is vital to keep our organization connected. I would love for you to contact me, either Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, email, text, mail or phone. See, you have no reason to not say hi and see whatís going on. Plus, we want to get the word out about our great organization and help it grow. Did you have a great time at convention? Then why not share your experience with others? I am also working to make that NJHA connection with the Grange even stronger. I plan to communicate with many local and State Granges throughout the US and interest them on what we have to offer. I hope there will be a Grange division in our ID contest and would love to see many Grange teams coming to compete. What do you want to see happen? Let me or another officer know. We want to make this the best organization it can be. Oh, and if you have been seeing the Facebook posts, you know how much my Advisor and myself like to have contests. So, the first person to get ahold of me after reading this article will get a prize. Iím looking forward to an exceptional year in NJHA!

Horticulturally Yours,
Lexi Gegare Ė NJHA President

Hello! My name is Grace Manzer, I'm 17 years old and I'm am from Elizabeth City, North Carolina. I work as a greenhouse assistant at my high school's agriculture complex also as a barn hand at a club barn in my town. I am a senior at Northeastern High School and will be attending NC State University in the fall majoring in ornamental horticulture. After college I would eventually like to own and operate my own florist.

I have been a part of state level NJHA since I was old enough to compete. I have followed in the foot steps of older siblings and family friends who have all been a part of NJHA and competed at the national level. I have been around plants since the day I was born and I have been exposed to NJHA since I was about 9 months old. I competed in the 4-H division in San Diego, California and received 4th place individual as well as my team winning that year. I went back to NJHA convention in Williamsburg, Virginia and received the grand national award from extemporaneous public speaking. Also in Williamsburg I was named NJHA secretary. In my opinion NJHA convention always goes wonderfully. It is my hope for this upcoming convention that youth have more if a chance and encouragement to come out of their shells and interact with youth form other states. Convention has always been fun for me, and I am so happy to go back each year. This enthusiasm is something I hope that is instilled in every youth and advisor in attendance in Lexington, KT. I plan on encouraging people in my area to attend and I myself will attend NJHA officer meetings to help ensure that all youth and advisors feel welcome and learn something! This is how I will help NHJA keep Going and Growing.

Grace Manzer - NJHA Secretary

Hi. I'm Bethany Brinsfield and I am form Vienna, Maryland. I live on our family farm and work with my parents and siblings. I am a senior at North Dorchester High School and currently participating in the senior class play, The Wizard of Oz. This year I'm taking several AP classes, including Biology AP and Environmental Science AP, that I hope will help further my horticulture education. When I graduate from high school I am planning on attending college to major in Agricultural Engineering.

I have been in 4-H for 12 years and that is how I became interested in horticulture. My mom is my coach and I competed in the Junior, Intermediate, and Senior State Horticulture contests growing up. My first NJHA Convention was in San Diego, California in 2011 and I received 3rd in the identification contest. I went to Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin in 2012, competed in the open identification contest and Preforming Arts contest and received Grand National in both. In 2012 I was also chosen to be the Eastern Director and had a great year. In 2013 I went to Williamsburg, Virginia and competed in Honors Identification. I also reapplied to be an officer and I am now currently the Western Director.

This year, I hope that convention goes as wonderfully as in years past. I want to encourage youth coordinators and adult members to participate during the year and return to convention. The new contests will probably increase participation and I am excited. We always go to interesting sights at convention and I hope that everyone will learn something in Lexington, Kentucky that they did not know before. I want other young people to enjoy convention because they are the next generation of NJHA. NJHA is a great place for people to make friends and network and I want people to make connections that last a life time. This year I want to produce good newsletters and articles that NJHA-ers will enjoy reading. I also plan on attending all of the officer meetings and convention so that I can do my part to keep NJHA "Going and Growing."

Bethany Brinsfield - Western Director

Hello! My name is Sayali Desai, and I have been given the honor to serve as your 2014-2015 Eastern Region Director. I am currently a junior in high school hoping to pursue a generalized agricultural degree at the University of Delaware. During the summer, I volunteer at Hagley Museum and Library on a weekly basis assisting the horticulturist in maintaining and the beautification of the gardens. During the semester, I am employed as a Kennel Technician at the Windcrest Animal Hospital assisting with canine and feline boarding. Apart from agriculture, some of my other passions include reading, archery and hiking.

As an Eastern Director I would like to see an increase in membership of students from various states participating in the multitude of contests offered by the NJHA organization. In addition, I would like to observe many of our past members to return as alumni and eventually as adults. The unique aspect of NJHA is that it is a multi-generational organization that not only caters to the youth but also adults creating a strong connection between the two.

I would also like to see more participants entering the various contests. Most students compete in the horticultural id contest but fail to participate in others like research, performing arts, etc. My contributions in that office would be to keep the general public informed of our esteemed organization through our annual newsletters. Also, I would like to create cohesive groups at local, state and national level through correspondence with various youth coordinators in the region. Furthermore, I would like to be that voice to offer help when needed, encouragement when there is a lack of confidence or even offer advice as friend and lend a helping shoulder.

My plan includes organizing and starting a team in the state of Delaware and getting them actively involved. In addition, I would like to actively fundraise for the officers as well as the organization and utilize the funds towards the development of a better, user-friendly website, travel, and other necessary expenditures.

I would also like to have more downtime at Convention in between workshops and competitions for competitors to relax a little and socialize with other students. I would like to see students interacting and getting out of their comfort zones.

Sayali Desai - Eastern Director

This is Rachel Hammond from Fort Wayne, Indiana. I live with my parents and I have an older brother and sister. On my family farm we grow corn, green beans, peas, lots of tomatoes, red beets, squash, cucumbers, peppers, potatoes, and other vegetables in our big garden. We also have beef cattle that I have shown at my county fair. We have a couple apple trees that we take good care of and pick apples from to make delicious applesauce. I was in 4-H and FFA , but I currently go to college at Ivy Tech Community College. The 2014 NJHA Convention will be my 7th convention and I am so excited for Lexington, Kentucky.

This year in NJHA I want to see our organization grow. I will do my part of that by encouraging lots of participation during the year and encouraging people to return to convention. I want people to feel comfortable to ask me important NJHA questions that will help them return. I also want to encourage youth coordinators to apply to the Officer team. Being a member of the officer team has made NJHA a big part of my life and I want more people to be able to enjoy it the way I have. I am making so many memories as an Officer and really enjoying the friends and connections that I have made. I want all members of NJHA to be able to come to convention and make career and friendship connections.

Rachel Hammond


My name is Matthew Bond, and I am the 2013-2014 Past President. I'm currently a senior Plant Science major at Cornell University. My concentration is Plants and Health, and I am currently applying to PhD programs in ethnobotany.

During my year as Past President, my goals include continuing to revise and modernize NJHA's social media presence. This will include our website, Facebook page, Youtube channel, and twitter account. I will also be working to update NJHA contests and projects, and contacting other states and organizations to encourage their participation. I challenge all of you to make a resolution to help spread the word about NJHA in any organizations that you are a part of, including school, work, The Grange, FFA, 4-H and local youth garden clubs. I know that this year's convention in Lexington, Kentucky, be one to remember, and look forward to seeing all of you there!

Matthew Bond - Past President

As we look forward to another year in NJHA, there are many exciting things being planned. Some of the contest areas are going to be expanded and even changed a little. There will be new and different opportunities for you to explore. We haven't had a change like this is a long time and it is making us eager to see what you all will think.

We have been working hard to refresh some relationships with the National Grange. Both of us had the opportunity to attend the National Grange Convention in Manchester, New Hampshire in November. Debbie, who is a Grange member, attended as a Grange Communications Fellow and was able to talk to many attendees about NJHA. Ted set up an awesome display about NJHA and handed out information at the Idea Fair that was held during the convention. He was not only able to network with Grange people, but also other participants that had booths there. He was even interviewed to be on the radio. Ted also was a speaker at the New York Grange State Convention in October. He said he learned a lot about the Grange and met some great people that he hopes will take interest in NJHA. We also want to mention that Lexi has been communicating with Grange youth and participation seems to be right around the corner.

We encourage you to talk with your Directors and the rest of the Officer team, including the Advisors, in whatever fashion you like. We like to text, Facebook, Instagram, email and even chat on the phone. We like to hear from you. Plus, if you are thinking about applying to be an officer, this active communication gives you "points" towards becoming an Outstanding YC.

We can't wait to start giving you the details about the 80th National Convention in Lexington, KY in October. The Officer team has so many great things planned; you won't want to miss it. Have a super spring!!

Debbie Gegare and Ted Beebe - NJHA Co-Advisors