Penn State chemistry instructor named 4-H Northeast Volunteer of the Year

Alumna Susan Swope is a volunteer 4-H leader for Penn State Extension's 4-H program in Clearfield County
4-H Northeast Volunteer of the Year Susan Swope

The National 4-H Council recently recognized Susan Swope, lecturer in chemistry at Penn State DuBois, as 2022 Northeast 4-H Volunteer of the Year.

Credit: Courtesy of Jessica Mondi/Penn State DuBois

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Susan Swope, an adjunct chemistry instructor at Penn State DuBois and a Penn State alumna, was named 4-H Northeast Volunteer of the Year in the annual 4-H Salute to Excellence Awards announced recently by the National 4-H Council.

The award includes a plaque and a $200 donation in Swope’s name to the 4-H organization of her choice: the 4-H program administered by the Clearfield County office of Penn State Extension

“Empowering youth is second nature to Susan,” said her nominator, Hannah Alexander, a 4-H youth development extension educator based in Clearfield County.

As a Clearfield County volunteer since 2015, Swope has served as both a club organizational leader and as a member of the county’s 4-H program development committee. In this role, Swope seeks to promote the program, express the needs of volunteers and engage new youth. Over the last two years, her efforts within the committee have ushered more than 20 new families and four volunteers into the county program.

Leading a club with more than 40 members, Swope fosters a welcoming environment for youth and families alike. She encourages her members to learn and work together and values their input when planning activities. Swope incorporates hands-on activities to challenge and teach youth about livestock skillathons, feed ingredients, butter making, thank-you notes, meat cuts, biosecurity practices and other topics.

A top priority for Swope is encouraging youth to become good citizens who seek to “Make the Best Better” in collaboration with fellow 4-H’ers. Other goals include promoting social skills, record-keeping skills and outreach to the public about agriculture. 

Alexander noted that Swope continually aims to develop her own skills as a leader through 4-H leadership training and professional development opportunities. 

“I have witnessed Susan improve and expand the quality of learning through different programs within and outside the club environment,” Alexander said. “She strives to provide youth with intentional learning experiences that transfer to real-world skills.”

Swope surpasses expectations of a club leader by devoting additional time to complete surveys, assess curriculum or programs, and offer meaningful impact statements for the county and state.

“She is a trusted and valuable resource that other volunteers and I go to for constructive feedback and guidance,” Alexander added.

Before her position as a 4-H volunteer, Swope participated in 4-H as a youth member in Tioga County for 10 years. She held numerous leadership and officer positions during her time as a member. 

Swope earned a master’s degree in chemistry from Penn State. She currently teaches the organic chemistry series and second-semester general chemistry at Penn State DuBois.

Administered in Pennsylvania by Penn State Extension, 4-H is a community of more than 6 million young people across America learning leadership, citizenship and life skills. Penn State Extension 4-H youth development educators in all 67 counties administer local 4-H programs through nonformal education and outreach. More information about Pennsylvania 4-H and local county programs is available on the Penn State Extension website.