I was delighted to be invited to interview our current president, Jerrod Shouse, at the end of his term and very much enjoyed sitting down and visiting with him. We all salute Jerrod for the outstanding job he has done as our president. Enjoy below his reflections on his year:
1. What was your first memory of Rotary?
I worked for Governor Frank Keating for a few years and was fortunate to travel the state with him. He spoke at numerous Rotary Clubs, which was my first introduction to Rotary. I noticed that every Rotary Club was made up of each community’s leaders who got together for the purpose of bettering their communities.
2. What brought you into Rotary? How long have you been a member?
I joined our Club in 2010 after visiting a couple of times as a guest of my colleague at the State Capitol, Clayton Taylor. Later, Clayton, along with Jim Sharrock and Cliff Branan, became my sponsors.
3. From your involvement in earlier Rotary activities/committee positions or community involvement, what do you think prepared you the most for your year as president?
I think serving as Program Chair for two years under our club Presidents Robert Clements and Jerome Holmes was great preparation. One of my goals this year was to have great weekly programs that would entice members to attend our luncheons, especially after we’ve had to hold limited meetings in the recent past due to the pandemic.
4. What was the hardest thing in adjusting to being president?
There are so many positive things that Rotary does that I hadn’t known a lot about—such as the Junior Rotarian Program. We have such a broad spectrum of program opportunities for members. It was eye opening—in a very good way!
5. What about continuing to be concerned about COVID?
At each monthly club board meeting, we were intentional about discussing whether we had the right protocols in place or whether should do things differently, based on the up-to-date data on cases and hospitalizations in the community. Our goal was to strike the right balance of continuing to have weekly Tuesday luncheons while asking members to take the appropriate level of precautions. And I’m confident that next year’s board will continue to monitor things closely.
6. What surprised you the most about being president?
It was such a pleasant surprise to see how the club is so member-led, with the staff stepping up to help as needed. We have over 40 working committees and most everything is handled through those committees and committee chairs. It is inspiring to see how members unselfishly give of their time and talents to benefit the club.
7. Did you learn something about Rotary this year that you didn’t know?
A blind spot for me was our international projects, so it was great to learn more about how much our club does around the world. We have an excellent reputation with Rotary Clubs in other countries, and we have several engaged members who help ensure that our engagement in international projects happens in a really impactful way.
8. Looking back over your year, do you have a favorite Rotary activity?
I love our weekly Rotary luncheons! I have friends in our community that I may only see when I come to a Tuesday luncheon — and the bonus is we get to enjoy a good lunch and an interesting speaker.
9. How about a favorite Rotary moment—something that was funny, crazy or especially touching?
Our Holiday Program this past year was superb! We heard from first-class singers and musicians from our community, and I could not think of a better way for us to close out the calendar year and usher in the Holidays.
10. Comment about Rotary service projects—do you have a favorite?
I really like all of our projects, but one that I have liked participating in through the years is the Salvation Army bell ringing—enjoying the Christmas spirit with fellow Rotarians.
11. How about your attending the Rotary International Convention?
I did not get to attend an International Convention because of COVID. The Convention was virtual for two years, condensed over a couple of days. However, we did get to hear different speakers via zoom and were able to get a sense of a Rotary International Convention.
12. Are we still wanting to be the largest Rotary Club in the world? Where do we stand in the U.S.? In the world? Value of being one of the largest?
Becoming the largest was not a goal of mine. I think that a club that is thriving and doing impactful things in the community is going to attract new members. Our membership committee coined the phrase “The more we grow, the more we can do!” which is a perfect way to sum it up. I do pay attention to our membership numbers, just so I know where we’ve been, where we are, and where we are going. Over the past twelve months, we had a net increase of around 40 members. Currently, we’re the third largest Rotary Club in the world and the second largest in the United States, behind Birmingham, Alabama.
13. If you were encouraging someone to join Club 29, what would you tell them is the value of membership?
Being a member of our Rotary Club gives you the opportunity to make a difference in your community, connect with other people, and to enjoy a weekly luncheon meeting where you’ll hear from someone sharing what they are doing to make an impact in the world. If this sounds good to you, you should definitely join Club 29!
14. When you look back at your Rotary year—say 10 years from now—what do you think you’ll remember the most?
What I’ll remember most in ten years is what I’ve been reflecting on today – that the reason our club is the oldest and largest civic organization in Oklahoma is because we have so many wonderful members who unselfishly give of their time and efforts to the betterment of our club and to make an impact on the community.
15. Did you enjoy coming up with the “Thought for the Day”? Is it tough to do? Try to match program theme? How long have we been doing “Thought for the Day”?
I think that it’s nice that our club President has a tradition of giving a final thought for the day. I personally tried to tie in each of my thoughts back to the program when I could, but also to have fun with it or for it to be thought provoking. It does take some work. It’s nice to reflect on words of wisdom and then share them with the club.
16. Any special advice for Wes as he starts his year as president?
My advice to Wes is to have fun and enjoy the year. It’s over before you know it!!
17. Is there anything I haven’t asked that you would like to add?
Yes – I want to mention how valuable our past presidents are to our club. Their advice, support, and the opportunity to use them as a sounding board has been invaluable. It is quite a credit to our club that so many of our past presidents have continued to be so very active to ensure our club sees continued success well into the future.
Jerrod has had an outstanding year as president, leading our club in its many programs and projects and representing Club 29 to others in the Rotary world. We are all glad we have had the opportunity to get acquainted with him, and all feel he has become our friend. We wish him the very best as he becomes a past president and know that he will continue to be an asset to our club. An enormous THANK YOU, Jerrod, for a job well done!!