Hoover family scholarship will assist students studying ag education

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A family with extensive educational connections to Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences has established an endowment that will earn matching funds from the University and provide scholarship support to students in the college who have demonstrated financial need.

With a $50,000 gift, Ronald and Tracy Hoover have created the Hoover Family Trustee Scholarship. First preference for scholarship funds will go to students majoring in Agricultural and Extension Education. The gift will earn a 10 percent annual match from the Trustee Matching Scholarship Program, roughly tripling the impact of the Hoovers’ support.

"Education, both formal and nonformal, has been a cornerstone of our family's professional and personal lives," the Hoovers said in a statement. "Collectively, we are on target to have six degrees from the College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State.

"Our scholarship will support the development of Agricultural and Extension Education majors who will graduate with the knowledge and skill set to enter careers in the food, agricultural and natural-resource sciences and to help youth and young adults become informed consumers and future leaders."

Raised on a Cambria County dairy, crop and potato farm, Ronald Hoover received his bachelor's degree in agronomy from Delaware Valley College and his master's in agronomy from Penn State in 1983 and 1991, respectively. He currently is a senior project associate and coordinator of on-farm research programs in the Department of Plant Science at Penn State.

He also has worked in field and vegetable crop plant pathology research and extension at the University of Florida and in product research and sales for a small agribusiness firm in the southeastern United States.

Tracy Hoover earned her bachelor's degree in animal science from Delaware Valley College in 1982 and her master's in animal science from Penn State in 1983. She spent three years teaching agricultural education at Big Spring High School in Cumberland County before earning a doctorate in agricultural education from Penn State and joining the Penn State faculty in the Department of Agricultural and Extension Education in 1990.

She left to teach at the University of Florida in 1993, returning to Penn State in 2001 with responsibilities in youth leadership development and teacher education. From 2004 to 2011, she served as head of the Department of Agricultural and Extension Education. In July 2011, she became interim associate dean for undergraduate education in the College of Agricultural Sciences, and the following year she was named to the post on a standing basis.

The Hoovers' older daughter, Meghan Hoover Baker, graduated from the College of Agricultural Sciences in Community, Environment, and Development in May 2010 with minors in Civic Engagement and Communication and in Human Development and Family Studies. Currently the program director at the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington branch in Arlington, Va., she is enrolled in the Community and Economic Development distance-education master's program offered by the Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education at Penn State.

Younger daughter Allison Hoover is a student in the Agricultural and Extension Education major at Penn State, pursuing minors in Spanish, International Agriculture and Sustainability Leadership. Upon graduation, she hopes to focus on global agricultural development through education and extension, especially in Spanish-speaking parts of the world.

While in Florida, the Hoover family was active in 4-H, the youth development program offered through the cooperative extension system administered by land-grant universities such as Penn State. Tracy and Ron served as co-leaders of a county 4-H club, and Meghan and Allison were 4-H members who participated in several leadership and animal projects.

The Trustee Matching Scholarship Program maximizes the impact of private giving while directing funds to students as quickly as possible, meeting the urgent need for scholarship support. In this groundbreaking philanthropic model, Penn State matches a percent of the total pledge or gift at the time a Trustee Scholarship is created, making funds available immediately for student awards.

This University match, which is approximately equal to the endowment's annual spendable income, continues in perpetuity, multiplying the support available for students with financial need. The Trustee Matching Scholarship Program originally offered a 5 percent match, roughly equivalent to the spendable income from an endowment, but Trustee Scholarship endowments created through the end of For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students will receive a 10 percent annual match.

The Hoovers' gift will help the College of Agricultural Sciences to achieve the goals of For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students. This University-wide effort is directed toward a shared vision of Penn State as the most comprehensive, student-centered research university in America.

More information about the campaign can be found online at

Tracy (left) and Ron Hoover, whose family is on track to earn six Penn State degrees, have established a Trustee Matching Scholarship in the College of Agricultural Sciences. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated July 10, 2013