The youth officer team consists of three regional directors, secretary, vice president, president and past president (who is not elected). Every state represented at convention has youth coordinators that act as the communications link between delegates and the national officer team and assist their state leader. Youth officers are elected at the NJHA annual convention from delegates and serve through the following convention.
Matthew Bond - NJHA President
Hello! My name is Matthew Bond, and I am honored to be your 2012-2013 President. I am currently a junior Plant Science major. My concentration is Plants and Health, because I intend to become an ethno botanist. During the summer, I work at a florist shop as a designer and also help out an 83 year man in his gardens. During the semester, I work at a costume shop. I have been a member of my local youth garden club for 9 years now, and serve as a garden coordinator. Although, my main love is plants, I also enjoy spending time with my camera, downhill skiing, and hiking.
I have been a member of NJHA for 5 years, and was introduced to it during my time as a 4- H member. Last year, I served as president, and in the two years before that I served as Western Director, I have competed in many of our contests, including the ID, demonstration, extemporaneous speaking, and essay contests, as well as horticulture connections, environmental awareness project, the Y/C program, and achievement and leadership scholarship. I am also a member of Phi Eta Sigma, the National Freshman Honor Society and the Lambda XI chapter of Beta Beta Beta Biological Honors Society.
During my year as President, my goals include continuing to revise and modernize NJHA’s social media, including the website, Face book page, and YouTube channel. I am also working to update NJHA contests and projects, and contact inactive states to encourage their participation. I challenge all of you to help us keep NJHA Going and Growing, coordinating with organizations such as the Grange, FFA, 4-H and local youth garden clubs. I know that this year’s convention in Williamsburg, Virginia, will be one to remember, and look forward to seeing all of you there!
This is the time of year when many of us will consider making a resolution to enact some sort of change in our lives. While, I would love to start going to the gym or learn a new language, this year, my resolution will be to communicate more, whether with family, friends, or new acquaintances. Every year, the officer team has a January planning meeting, which will come at the perfect time for me to put this resolution into action by really getting to know the new Vice President and Regional Directors. While, most of the people in my current friend circle know about my involvement in NJHA, I also want to start talking to other students, particularly those in my major, Plant Science, about the opportunities of joining NJHA. One of the saddest parts of going to convention with them, talk about the things we learned together, and share new plant experiences with them throughout the year! I challenge you to join me in making new connections to the people who live next door to you or share a class with you. Together, we can all help to keep NJHA Going and Growing.
Brooke Bukowski - Vice President
Hello NJHA, my name is Brook Bukowski and am currently serving as your 2012 – 2013 National Vice President. I am from Virginia and a 2012 graduate. I am currently taking the year off of college. However, I am planning on studying Business Administration. With this, I am trying to get into the Walt Disney World Company to pursue a career in their guest relations. Other than that, I am an only child with no pets. I keep busy working with my counties Parks and Recreation and American Eagle. FFA is also a huge part of my life so since being graduated, I spend a lot of time helping out my chapter.
The 2012 NJHA Convention held in Wisconsin is actually my first convention!! However, I have competed in the Horticulture Demonstration contest three times through FFA as well as numerous other FFA contests and classes such as Floriculture, Greenhouse Management, Public Speaking, Landscape Design, and Floral Design. I also have been doing various horticultural activities since I was younger including gardening, volunteering in a local greenhouse and my school greenhouse, volunteer landscaping and other random projects.
This year, I am excited to be able to meet so many new people and to spread the word about NJHA by traveling to local 4-H clubs and FFA chapters and talking to them about the opportunities available. I hope for Virginia, to have a large delegation at the 2013 convention in Williamsburg, Virginia as I travel and get more people involved. I also would like to get some state contests going so that teams could form and practice for the national convention. It is going to be an awesome year and I hope to see all of you in my home state in Williamsburg at next years’ convention!
Lexi Gegare - Secretary
Hello, my name is Alexia Gegare, but everyone calls me Lexi. I live in a little town of only about 4,000 people in Wisconsin. I am a senior and involved in Choralation, the Varsity Show Choir. Music and Dance are my passion. I also participate in many plays and musicals at my school. I am a huge part of FFA. I have been on the Floriculture judging team for 4 years and our team is ranked first place in the whole state of Wisconsin. In my home town, I am the President of my 4-H club. I have been active in 4-H for 11 years and have taken many projects. I work part time at the Senior Living as an Activity Aid and my future career plans include attending college and becoming a Recreational Therapist with a minor in Horticulture and Music.
This year will be my third year being the NJHA Secretary. I have been coming to NJHA conventions since I was little and I actually took my first steps in 1995 at the NJHA convention in Niagara Falls. I have participated in many contests including Young America projects, Demonstrations, and the Horticulture ID and written test. NJHA has given me the opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. I have traveled to new places and learned many new things. It has allowed me to become a better leader, by being a Youth Coordinator and being part of the NJHA Officer Team.
Since my home state just hosted the national convention, it has given me renewed excitement and enthusiasm about NJHA in Wisconsin. I plan to talk with many local 4-H clubs and FFA chapters to get many people involved. I have talked with several leaders in Wisconsin who are also on board to keep NJHA alive. The state FFA president and I have planned to talk with many groups of kids and get them interested in Horticulture. I will be attending the 2012 National Grange Convention in Idaho where I plan to share the opportunities NJHA has to offer. NJHA better be ready for lots of Wisconsinites in Virginia.
I am involved in 4-H and Grange. It was so nice to meet so many people from all over the country at the 2012 convention and it was especially fun for me since it was in my home state. If you were unable to attend this past convention, you missed out on a great time. But, now it is on to Williamsburg, Virginia and the 2013 convention. The officer team and host committee have already begun preparations for your time in Virginia. This will definitely be a convention you won’t want to miss.
What ways are you sharing your excitement about NJHA with others? I recently attended the National Grange convention in Boise, Idaho and was able to talk to many youth and adults about NJHA and the relationship our two organizations have. Many Grangers are familiar with, but not sure if there is any participation in their state, so, I challenge you to find a Grange in your area and give a talk about the opportunities with NJHA. They would welcome the chance for a young person to give a presentation to their group. If you need some help finding a Grange or are not sure what to say or just want to tell me how it’s going, I would be glad to hear from you. Also, don’t forget about the NJHA face book page. It’s a great way for all of us to stay connected.
Allie Hopper - Central Director
My name is Allie Hopper of Virginia and your new Central Director. I will graduate in 2013 and plan to attend my local community college for two years after high school and transfer to a regular college.
This is my third year in NJHA. I have entered and won in the photo contest for the past three years, participate as a Y/C for the past two years and competed in the various speaking competitions and Horticulture Identification competition for the first two years. This is my first year holding a NJHA officer position.
This year to encourage participations in NJHA, I am going to contact the state leaders and see if they are aware of NJHA. I am going to contact colleges, public schools, art museums, and Botanical gardens hoping to gain new members. I believe our new officer team will make NJHA grow like never before.
Bethany Brinsfield - Eastern Director
Hello NJHA. My name is Bethany Brinsfield and am currently serving as your 2012 – 2013 NJHA Eastern Director. I am from Maryland. I am a junior in school where I like to sing, and be involved in sports. In the spring, I play for the county team and in the fall I enjoy participating in the 5k’s. I have a cat named Mufassa and a dog named Maggie. I live on a farm and can drive almost anything you put in front of me.
This year is my second NJHA convention. Last year, I participated in the Maryland Identification contest and received first place and the trip to the convention in San Diego. I love NJHA so much that this year I fundraised so I could compete in the Open Identification contest. I have held several officer positions in other organizations. I am the Envirothon President and Vice President of the Student Literacy Team.
In order to keep NJHA Going and Growing, ambition and communications are necessary. Do not be afraid to ask me questions or contact me. I can teach anyone who would like to learn how to write a fantastic informative article. Check out my “Hort. Question fo the Week” on Face book so you can be sharp on your Horticulture knowledge. I would like everyone to be comfortable with me so we can get things done.
Over the past two months, I have been embracing my new post. Interacting with Youth Coordinators is my favorite part of the job. Many convention-goers were eager to be Youth Coordinators. I find it easy to work with such enthusiastic people.
I started a Quiz Picture program on Face book as an interactive game to keep Youth Coordinators involved. I post a picture of a plant and participants “comment” their answer. This is slightly similar to the Honors Plant Identification Youth Coordinators experience as competitors. I try to challenge their knowledge by digging up tough samples. Anyone can participate in the fun. Even other Officers join in the game.
I really look forward to NJHA events. The Youth Officer Team winter meeting is scheduled and I am ready! I view the meeting as an NJHA family reunion and the opportunity to get some work done. My favorite thing about NJHA is the people I have become acquainted with due to my involvement.
Rachel Hammond - Western Director
Hello, I am Rachel Hammond from Indiana. I am the Western Director for 2012 – 2013. I will be graduating from school in 2013 and plan to study Radiology. I live on a small farm and love being involved in 4-H and FFA.
The 2012 convention in Wisconsin was my fourth year of attending NJHA. Every year attending these conventions, I have participated in the Horticulture connections and the Identification contest. This will be my first year of being an NJHA officer.
This year as an officer, I would like to keep NJHA Going and Growing by informing not only my own state, but surrounding states about Horticulture. I would also like to keep up on the NJHA face book and get people excited about horticulture. In the future of NJHA, I see more attendance of people and states. I also see great future sites for NJHA.
Ted Beebe - NJHA Co-Advisor
Hi, I am Ted Beebe and I am the new Co-advisor to the Youth Officer Team. My two children (Nick and Katlyn) both attended NJHA conventions in prior years, and my granddaughter Brooklynne is already becoming an excellent home gardener. This past summer brought me a new grandson – Gabriel Allister (ask me to show you a picture!). I currently work with Saratoga County 4-H as a project leader for the county horticulture team and as director of the photography department at county fair. I am a member of the local Lions club, and enjoy the sport of curling as coach, spectator and participant.
My wife, Sue, introduced me to NJHA at the local and state level about 23 years ago, and my first convention was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I have greatly enjoyed sharing the learning process with our Saratoga County 4-H horticulture team over the years, as well as helping to run the New York state competition each year at the state fair. Sue and I have been members of the awards committee, and have run the NJHA Photography Competition for many years. It was exciting this year to win the bidding for Allie Hopper’s Best of Show photograph at the alumni auction. I encourage all of the youth to enter as many of the competitions as possible; they are great chances to grow and perhaps win some cash.
I am excited about my new role with the Officer Team this year. I hope to help build a strong team spirit with a focus on professionalism and leadership. Our organization needs to expand the number of active state programs at the same time we keep closer ties with our “graduating” alumni. It has been a real pleasure to see so many recent and “historical” alumni working to support us over the years. In order to keep a tree growing strong, you need good deep roots well connected to each year’s crop of new leaves. Let’s work together to get the absolute best out of our Virginia experience.
Debbie Gegare - Advisor
Hi, I am Debbie Gegare and I am the National Co Advisor to the Officer Team. I have a daughter named Lexi, who is a senior in high school and 2 cats named Molly and Zoey. I work for Catholic Charities in the Community Connections program, where I am the Lead Skills Trainer. This is a day program for adults with developmental disabilities, where I do case management and building programming. I am not only involved with NJHA, but also 4-H, FFA and Grange. In 4-H, am leader for Music and Drama, Food Preservation and I am the County Camp Director. I train the Floriculture team in FFA and am also an Alumni member. I am currently the Overseer (Vice President) of my local Grange chapter and plan on attending the National Grange Convention in November of 2012.
I have been involved with NJHA for over 25 years. My first convention was the 50th convention in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1984. I represented Wisconsin on a 4-H team and was hooked on NJHA right from the start. I was active as a Y/C, became a national officer and when I graduated out, I worked with teams and became the State Leader for Wisconsin. We have made NJHA a family affair as my parents, sister and daughter have all participated in different aspects of the organization.
As the National Advisor, I work closely with the National Officer Team. We help to plan conventions and keep in communications with the members of our organization throughout the year. Our goal is to have representation from all states at our annual meeting. NJHA is a best kept secret, but let’s not keep it a secret any longer. I encourage and challenge you to spread the word about our awesome organization. When voices start talking, people will hear. We are very excited to start working on the details for the 79th annual convention, October 11 – 14, 2013 in Williamsburg, Virginia. Plan now on attending, you will not want to miss it.!.
Hi there, I am Debbie Gegare and I am your National Co-Advisor. I live in Wisconsin with my daughter, mom and two cats. We had a great time at convention this year in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. It was neat to see a cranberry bog up close and ride the “Ducks”. We have started to prepare for your 2013 National Convention in Williamsburg, Virginia. I look forward to the Officer team meeting in January as we start another year in NJHA.
We have a great officer team this year and I encourage you to get to know them. They will be working hard to strengthen the Youth Coordinator program and to get more states involved in NJHA. They will be asking you for articles to make regional newsletters, involvement in discussions on the face book page and participation in national convention duties. Start making your plans for Williamsburg now and plan on getting connected to the Officer Team. We would love to hear from all of you.