Cross grew up in a small town in southern Illinois in Gallatin County called Ridgeway, with a population of about 1,100.
"My hometown was known as the Popcorn Capital of the World. Our school system had about 200 students and my graduating class had about 30 students," Cross said.
He said he is fortunate that he grew up in a rural town with good neighbors. "One of those neighbors was a county Extension agent who introduced me to the the local 4-H program," he said.
Cross said during his years as a member of 4-H, he was able to master skills that he still uses today including public speaking, parliamentary procedure and record keeping.
"The activities that I participated in taught me a sense of community, civic duties and leadership. My experience in 4-H also brought me to FFA, which further developed my career skills in a very disciplined way," he said.
Cross said that over the past 25 years, 4-H has been a subject of conversation in every job interview he has had.
"One of the first questions asked of me is 'Have you been a 4-H member?' This question came from local committees as well as the vice chancellor of a major university. This illustrates that what you do in your youth is very important to your future," Cross said.
Cross said Missouri Cooperative Extension is a huge educational resource. "I hope all Oregon County residents take advantage of the service. I plan to write future articles about the community development educational programs Extension has to offer," Cross said.
He said the programs include the EXCEL Leadership program, CEED (Community Enterprise and Entrepreneurial Development) Step Up Leadership.
"I look forward to meeting everyone and look forward to serving in Oregon County," he said. Anyone with any suggestions or ideas on community development can call the office at 417-778-7490 or at email@example.com.