National 4-H Hall of Fame inducts two retired Penn State 4-H educators

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A retired Penn State 4-H extension educator and a retired faculty member were inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame on Oct.12 for their lifetime achievements and contributions to 4-H. 

Carol Schurman, a retired Penn State Extension 4-H educator from Indiana County, and Jan Scholl-Kennedy, associate professor emerita of agricultural and extension education in the College of Agricultural Sciences, were two of 20 people inducted during the ceremony held in Washington, D.C. Honorees received a National 4-H Hall of Fame medallion, plaque and memory book.

“We are proud to recognize the 2021 National 4-H Hall of Fame honorees for the passion, dedication, vision and leadership they have shown toward young people during their many years of service to 4-H,” said Jeannette Rea Keywood, National 4-H Hall of Fame committee chair.

Schurman launched her 40-year career with Extension in 1977. She retired in 2017. 

Schurman’s devotion to positive youth development radiates through her tireless attention to opportunities, mentoring, sponsorship and teaching, according to a statement from the National 4-H Hall of Fame. “Carol’s 4-H members were her children,” the statement said. “Carol practiced what she preached and was respectful, kind and attentive to every youth and adult she worked with.”

Scholl-Kennedy became involved in 4-H at a young age as a junior 4-H leader. She then worked as a 4-H family and consumer science curriculum specialist in Wyoming and Pennsylvania before becoming a tenured professor with the college in 1996. She retired in 2017. 

“Jan came to the Penn State Extension 4-H Youth Development program at a time when there was a great need for subject matter specialists,” said former state 4-H leader Christy Bartley. “Her project books were used by states across the country.”

Penn State published more than 50 of Scholl-Kennedy’s state 4-H projects, reaching an average of 10,000 youth and adults per year. Among her most popular projects were the “Portable Kitchen” and “Food Demonstration” guides. She shared her curriculum at conferences in 20 countries.

According to the National 4-H Hall of Fame, “Jan was a popular workshop presenter at regional and state volunteer educational events. She was always willing to share many resources with volunteers, and they loved her for that — her car was always full when it came to volunteer training and empty when it left!”  

Both women left a lasting impact on 4-H. Schurman implemented programs that continue today, including horse bowl, hippology, animal science skillathon, embryology and communication contests. 

Building young people’s communication skills was a key goal for Schurman. She taught more than 80 workshops on topics such as public speaking, interviewing and making a good impression.  

"Carol Schurman is the epitome of 4-H,” said Connie Bruner, a 4-H volunteer and former member under Schurman’s guidance. “She built Indiana County 4-H from the ground up into the dynamic, powerhouse program that it is today, cultivating generations of 4-H members into thriving, contributing members of the community."

During her 35 years as co-director of Southwest 4-H Camp, Schurman managed 25 counselors and 60 campers yearly. She also coordinated the annual Southwest Pennsylvania 4-H Leaders’ Symposium, involving 75 volunteers from 10 counties. At the agricultural science day camps she conducted, hundreds of children learned about where their food comes from. 

Scholl-Kennedy is known nationally for documenting the research that undergirds 4-H youth development programs. Determined to prove that 4-H programs have a strong research base, she spent 20 years creating and updating an online database of all known graduate and professional studies about 4-H and the results of 4-H programs. The 8,000 4-H studies range from 1912 to the present and have been accessed by more than 12,000 researchers, legislators, administrators and extension educators. 

The project resulted in several grants, two books, a dozen journal articles and many national awards. Now housed in the Penn State University Libraries, Scholl-Kennedy’s database continues to help extension educators plan programs. 

Both Scholl-Kennedy and Schurman continue to serve Penn State after retirement. Schurman and her husband have established two scholarships at the University: the Eugene and Carol Schurman Trustee Scholarship, which benefits animal science students, and the Carol and Eugene Schurman 4-H Annual Scholarship benefiting 4-H members who enroll in the college.

Scholl-Kennedy continues to research the history of 4-H. Since her retirement, she has published several biographical articles about early extension workers and their programs, led presentations on the history of extension, and studied the life of Martha Van Rensselaer, a National 4-H Hall of Fame laureate.

Last Updated November 09, 2021