Christian Hawbaker

Christian Hawbaker poses for a photo at the Tennessee 4-H Roundup.

This year I got the chance to go on a life-changing trip to Tennessee 4-H Roundup, and I was extremely grateful for the opportunity to go. The entire purpose of going to Roundup was for me to compete in my project portfolio. A project portfolio is a record of the work that a 4-H member completes in their project. High school students turn their work in to the state, so they can be judged. The finalists are selected, and they attend Tennessee 4-H Roundup to get interviewed by industry professionals.

However, the week morphed into a week I would never forget. For at least four years, Ms. Staci Foy, our Extension agent, had pushed me to fill out the paperwork for a project portfolio. I would put it off till the very last minute. It would be the day before the deadline, and It was impossible for me to finish any of the work in a single night. Unlike in past years, in April I buckled down and did the work, so it could be sent off to the state for judging. I waited for months on end to hear back from Knoxville with any news about my portfolio. It was the middle of June before I was informed that I was selected as a finalist in the plant science category.  

In preparation, I looked over my science reports about the plant experiments, and I worked with some of the local Extension staff and their families to prepare for the interview. Everyone worked toward making me the readiest I could be before I left for Knoxville. When I left on July 22, we traveled by charter bus to get to the University of Tennessee, but when I got on the bus I literally knew nobody. I met some new people from Decatur County because we boarded together. We talked on the bus ride there getting to know one another. Upon the arrival on campus, we were excited to get off the bus and settle into the rooms. We ate, attended the first session of the week, and went to bed, so we would be well rested for the interviews the next day. I woke up the next day eager to compete in my business attire. We had a small breakfast, and we competed until noon. Later that night we found out the results of all the project portfolio competitions at the achievement banquet.  I was third in the state in my division, and I was selected to compete in the agriculture leadership category that was determined after the competition scores were tallied. The next day I had to have a second interview for the agriculture category.

Shortly after my interview, I had to change and wait for the trip to Dollywood.  I was so excited to go to Dollywood because my group had a special pass because I was considered handicapped at the time. We rode rides without the wait, and it was quite fabulous. We left Dollywood, and everyone went to bed, ready for the last day at Roundup. 

Thursday, we woke up for a morning session where I was recognized for being selected to be interviewed for Ag Leadership, and we found out the new state council members. That night we had the Vol State ceremony, and I really didn’t know what to expect because this was my first time going to the ceremony. Little did I know that I was receiving my Vol State pin. Vol State is the highest achievement in Tennessee 4-H, and I was ecstatic to earn this great honor. That night was completed with the final dance, and everyone was preparing to say goodbye to the friends they made from across the state. 

Leaving on Friday was the hardest part for me because I didn’t want to leave. I have developed new friendships with people in Benton, Decatur, and Henderson counties. The bonds I made are strong enough that whenever we see one another at regional contests, we can’t help but get excited. My experience at Roundup has given me a new depth and love for the 4-H organization, and I thoroughly hope that I can spread the wealth of joy that I get from this club to all of the members I come in contact with. Tennessee 4-H Roundup has truly shown me that hard work and dedication can lead to new foundations that one would never expect in life.

Load comments