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Democrat Photo by Jeanne Sager

Robert Sneckenberg

Nationals Await
Fallsburg Junior

By Jeanne Sager
FALLSBURG — June 25, 2004 – One question comes to mind when Robert Sneckenberg starts talking about his life.
“When do you sleep?”
The Fallsburg student just grins – “I get about four hours a night,” he says.
It’s hard to picture the Mountaindale resident sitting still for even a few minutes.
If he could graduate after junior year, Sneckenberg would be valedictorian of his class – his grade point average is more than 100 percent.
He’s president of the Key Club, a member of the Yearbook Committee, a regular attendee at SCIL events, the first Fallsburg student who’s ever made it to sectional play in tennis, a Science Olympiad member, in the National Honor Society, helped out with Kiwanis Club pancake breakfasts and the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, and the list goes on.
And this summer, Sneckenberg will join 49 other students from across the country as state champions in the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) job interview competition at the national level.
He’s all set to take a flight out to Denver, Colorado in July – his father, Bob, in tow.
For Sneckenberg, this trip is going to be a biggie – he’s done well at competitions before, but he’s never won nationals.
Hey, he’s never even been to Colorado. To go out to the Rocky Mountain state will be a “great learning experience” in and of itself.
Sneckenberg, 17, has been a member of FBLA for several years now. He first joined because it’s an organization that’s deeply rooted in community service, and he’s always had an interest in business.
This year, he decided to sign up for the job interview competitions because it seemed like good experience.
He’s had summer jobs before – working at the school with the janitorial staff and at the Trading Post in Rock Hill – but he’s never had to undergo the interviewing process that you’d experience at a major corporation.
Sneckenberg decided to try to “get a job” in the marketing field, so he put together a resume and started filling out applications.
His smooth talking and background impressed the judges at the regional level – one businessman even recalled their meeting a few months later when Sneckenberg went to speak to the Monticello Masonic Lodge to get some help with the cost of his trip.
Next Sneckenberg wowed the judges at the state competition in Rochester in April, ensuring him the New York spot at the national challenge.
Now he’s positive he can take it all the way.
“I’m a very competitive person,” Sneckenberg confessed. “Seeing as I made it this far, I might as well go on and win, right?”
In addition to his interviews, Sneckenberg will spend the week in Colorado attending workshops and meetings and networking with other teens.
“Every time you go to these conferences, you meet people you never would have met otherwise,” he explained. “You can never underestimate this experience – I don’t know who I’m going to see or what I’m going to do.”
Working this out with his family has been a challenge. Fallsburg FBLA Advisor Lynn Yettru won’t be able to attend the conference, so Sneckenberg’s dad will have to take time off from his job as a corrections officer to act as a chaperone. (Mom Suzann will be staying home because she has to work in her job at Frontier in Rock Hill.)
That means costs are doubled for the family – sending Robert means sending Bob as well, to the tune of $1,700 for the entire trip.
But, as Suzann said, the sky is the limit for their son.
Sneckenberg already has his eye on college. He’s looked at Yale, and he has a good chance of getting in.
So any experience that can give their son a bit of an extra edge is a good idea.
Robert is up for anything.
“I like to be as busy as I can,” he said. “As much as I can participate in, have fun and help people at the same time . . . there’s nothing I wouldn’t do.”
Sneckenberg’s trip is set for July 13. To help him out, donations made out to Robert Sneckenberg can be sent to the Fallsburg High School, care of Larry Schafman, 115 Brickman Road, Fallsburg, NY 12733.

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