Sandra “Sandy” Shaw Bekemeyer and her family are firm believers that you get out of life what you put into it. This might explain Bekemeyer’s dedication to the 4-H program and her reason for centering her life around it for the last 44 years.
Bekemeyer became involved with 4-H as a young girl growing up in Ohio. Along with her parents and siblings, Bekemeyer immersed herself in 4-H, especially the horse project. They were active with fundraisers, bake sales and fairs – in addition to work with the horses.
As a club leader, Bekemeyer’s projects and experience have varied greatly over the years. She has organizedand led 4-H members through many of the traditional 4-H projects as well as created a few of her own.
In the 1990’s Bekemeyer worked with her son and daughter to build and show a 4-H vehicle. This project caught national attention and was highlighted on national television, reaching an audience of 3.47 million people. She is also a certified archery and rifle instructor and consistently provided leadership to the Orange County Shooting Sports Club.
“I’ve had so much fun with 4-H that a lot of the time I don’t even realize it’s work,” said Bekemeyer. “Being able to work with my own children and other’s children and see their accomplishments and watch them grow into wonderful adults is more than I could ever have asked for.”
Bekemeyer remembers working with a troubled young man who had lost both parents and was in a very dysfunctional situation at home.“I remember when the 4-H family took him in and we watched him go from a troubled youth to a wonderful very accomplished young man,” said Bekemeyer.
“Unfortunately his life ended way too soon,” said Bekemeyer. “While it was very heart wrenching, it gave me great comfort to know I was able to work with him in his short life and see him go to national competition and win awards. It was the highlight of his 4-H career.”
Bekemeyer enjoys working with all types of people, including the under privileged, at-risk or disabled. “Working with a diverse group of people has really increased my self-esteem,” said Bekemeyer. “In turn, I’ve been able to provide leadership within the community, at state leader events, District Junior Congress and at the county level as a leader, mentor, instructor and promoter of 4-H.”“By raising her family through the 4-H program, Bekemeyer believes she has helped family, neighbors and friends become helpful members of society”, said Diane Shaw Anderson, Orange County. “She has taught the meaning of true commitment, loyalty, the value of teamwork, and goal setting. Sandy knows how to use a little elbow grease.”