Farm and Dairy Editor receives the National Friend of Extension Award
COLUMBUS, Ohio — When Susan Crowell first started reporting about farm and rural issues in the mid-1980s, she knew where to turn for information.
“As a reporter, I am always looking for sources — people who have the best information and can be objective,” she said. “So, naturally, whenever I’ve written about anything rural, environmental or agricultural, even as a newbie reporter, my first go-to was always Extension.
“Then I quickly learned the depth and breadth of programming, knowledge and research that Extension has to offer.”
Over the years, Crowell began volunteering her time and energy to serve on Ohio State University Extension advisory boards and committees, first at the county level and then at the state and national levels.
Now the longstanding editor of Farm and Dairy, a regional newspaper based in northeastern Ohio, is being honored along with two other recipients with the National Friend of Extension Award from Epsilon Sigma Phi for her outstanding support and personal involvement in Extension efforts.
The award is the highest recognition for non-Extension laypersons, companies or organizations presented by ESP, the national Extension professional organization. Every state in the U.S. has an Extension program through the land-grant university system.
Crowell will attend ESP’s national conference Oct. 4-7 to receive the honor.
“Susan is very well respected, not only within her own professional circles, but I can tell that members of the state OSU Extension Advisory Committee look up to her quite a bit,” said Greg Davis, interim director of OSU Extension. “She has also been a key voice for stakeholder input on our (college) vice president’s Conversations on the Future of Extension.” OSU Extension is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
Besides being “super polite,” Davis said, Crowell is both tough-minded and passionate about Extension and is strongly committed to the organization.
“I think that’s what makes her such a good advocate,” he said. “She’s just a big believer in what we do, bottom line. She is the epitome of a ‘friend.’”
When she was young, Crowell was a member of 4-H — the youth development arm of Extension. But she said she isn’t sure she realized then that 4-H is associated with Ohio State as part of Extension.
Later, as she became an adult and her involvement in Extension increased, she grew aware of programs “that I might not necessarily be writing about — things like urban programming or youth-at-risk programming.
“It seems like there’s someone in Extension nationwide working to solve almost any problem,” Crowell said. “To me, that’s just amazing. For the most part, it’s free information. It’s reliable. It’s unbiased. I can trust it as being legitimate information for my readers.”
She encourages new Farm and Dairy employees to make use of Extension’s resources.
“I have a stump speech for my new employees,” Crowell said. “On their first day, I tell them that there’s somebody with Ohio State or Penn State University Extension who can address almost anything they’ll be writing about.”
Crowell has served Extension in numerous ways, including:
- Member of the Columbiana County Extension Advisory Committee.
- Member, secretary/treasurer, vice president and president of the OSU Extension State Extension Advisory Committee, on which she has served for two decades.
- Member of the advisory council to Bruce McPheron, vice president for agricultural administration and dean of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
- Ohio representative to the national Lay Leaders Conference of the National Association of Public and Land-grant Colleges, now known as the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, advocating on behalf of Extension to federal legislators.
- Delegate to the national Council on Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching. She currently serves as CARET’s liaison to the national Extension Committee on Organization and Policy, the governing body for Extension directors across the U.S.
- Founding member of the National eXtension Foundation National Leadership Council.
The time and energy Crowell spends on Extension efforts is well worth it, she said.
“I do it because I believe in Extension,” Crowell said. “I tell people in Extension all the time that they are rock stars. And they don’t believe it — they’re just too close to it, they’re right in the middle of it. But I’m going to continue to say it until they start to believe it.”