“He was a 4-H educator that really allowed teens to take on leadership roles, who supported us and helped us believe in what we could do and see how we could grow and develop and reach and serve others in our community,” she said. When Becky Cropper reflects on the course of her life, she notes the influence former educator John Fark had on her early years in 4-H in Marion County.
Cropper, Ohio Farm Bureau’s 2020 Cooperative/Agriculture Educator Award winner, has emulated that type of commitment to both teens and the community for decades. Having grown up on a small crop and livestock farm in Marion County, she took a job as a 4-H educator in Brown County in 1978. There she met her husband, Harold, a dairy farmer who has served as a long-time member of the Brown County Farm Bureau board.
It was the Brown County Farm Bureau who nominated her for the award, noting in its nomination letter that “During her 33 years with OSU Extension, Becky was instrumental in the development of several programs for the youth….Becky’s love and support for her community, especially the youth, did not stop when she retired.”
Though Cropper retired in 2012, she hasn’t stopped working. For the past eight years she has been employed through the Brown County Educational Service Center as the 40 Developmental Assets coordinator. In this role, she oversees nine coordinators in each of the five school districts in Brown County to help children understand their strengths, build resilience and focus on social and emotional well‐being.
She serves on the grant writing team to fund programs that support the whole child and is also the Brown County representative for GRIT (Growing Rural Independence Together Through Jobs), a program in conjunction with Adams, Pike and Scioto counties. The program works with high school students to find careers that correspond to students’ strengths.
Cropper also has served as the secretary for The Coalition for a Drug Free Brown County since its inception and continues to promote education, prevention, harm reduction and treatment of addiction.
It’s the people she has had the chance to work with over the years that keep her motivated, Cropper said.
“(It’s) the over 300 volunteers I have the opportunity to work with over the course and longevity of my career — their dedication, the talents that they were willing to share, their commitment to youth, to seeing that youth become leaders, that youth learn about community service,” she said. “So many individuals, so willing to give anytime, anywhere, any place to make this world a better place.”
Cropper also has served as a supervisor for the Brown County Soil and Water Conservation District for the past seven years and volunteers her time with the county Farm Bureau.
“I truly believe in the mission and the values that Farm Bureau sets forth in terms of providing the foundation for Ohio’s agriculture and also promoting education, also promoting mental health and safety as well,” she said.
She and her husband, who are looking forward to their family farm in Brown County becoming a century farm in 2025, have a daughter, son and daughter-in-law and two grandchildren. After a lifetime of service, Cropper said she doesn’t plan on slowing down any time soon — it’s not who she is.
“Always look at what’s ahead of you and how you can use talents and skills you have to make somebody’s life a little better along the road,” she said.