Rider A Natural Leader

ST. MARYS — Austin Zumbrogel was destined for leadership, although he did not actively seek it.

Zumbrogel is president of Memorial High School’s FFA Chapter, and is drum major for the high school’s band. He did not accept these roles for the power or for the recognition, but because he loves being a part of both organizations.

As FFA President, Zumbrogel leads all the meetings.

“I am the main man in charge besides our adviser, who is Mr. McBride,” he said. “We assign committees and all the officers take part in that, and we ask for any volunteers (who) want to volunteer for it.”

His confidence and talent was recognized at last year’s FFA state convention, where he was picked out of over 200 people to play the snare drum in the state FFA Band.

“It was fun, in a way, and in another way it was professional because you’re playing in front of thousands of people from the state of Ohio,” he said.

This did not make him nervous, though, as Zumbrogel does not shy away from any kind of pressure.

“We practiced, actually, six hours before we performed, so it was sort of a mad dash (to learn),” he said.

FFA has had a major impact on Zumbrogel’s personal growth, and he has loved being a part of this organization.

‘It teaches you a lot of qualities of leadership and respecting and putting forth to the community and paying back,” he said. “And it also teaches you how to work in a group.”

Zumbrogel is even more of a leader in band, where he plays the bass drum.

“This year I was the drum major,” he said of the title he has been working toward since his freshman year.

The drum major is the band member in the very front, yelling out instructions to fellow band members.

“Basically, you lead the band,” he said. “You’re the face of the band.”

Every year of high school, Zumbrogel and other drum-major hopefuls from MHS attended camps at Ohio State during the summer and winter sessions and during their spring clinic to learn what it takes to be a drum major.

“I put forth many hours, and committed myself (to achieving) this,” he said. “It was fun and I loved it, and it taught me more leadership skills than anything.”

Zumbrogel gravitates toward not only leadership positions, but also opportunities to help within the community. He is a member of the SummerFest committee, which is a behind-the-scenes group of people whose job it is to make the festival happen.

“The week before SummerFest, they have everything organized, I help a committee set everything up with the other guys, and then basically help run it during the SummerFest,” he said. “The behind-the-scenes, pretty much. We move tables, we get them shipped in, we move them from the street, we move trailers in, we help move in vendors, put up fences.”

MHS Assistant Band Director Josh Hughes is also a chair leader for SummerFest, Zumbrogel said, and it was Hughes who asked him to join.

“I just love it,” he said. “It’s just fun. You make new friends, and (give) back to the community and help others.”

Helping others is something Zumbrogel wants to do in his career as well, as he plans on going into law enforcement after graduation.

“I’m going to Wright State for their law enforcement program, which is a two-year degree, hopefully coming out of that and getting a job, and then I hope to transfer, when I am 21, to the Ohio State Trooper Academy,” Zumbrogel said. “They are more precise and more military-like, and (I like) the way they dress and present themselves.”

This has been a childhood dream of Zumbrogel’s for as long as he can remember, and he is ready to finally be studying and working toward something that gives him such motivation. He wants to be far from the desk jobs that require repetition and contentment with monotony, which is another reason why he wants to work in law enforcement.

“In law enforcement, you don’t know what’s coming next,” he said. “It’s just the thrill of not knowing ... I guess that’s what I’m (striving) for.”