B. Alan Snider had three minutes to cram 32 years worth of service into one speech.
On Oct. 9, the retired Penn State professor of agriculture education was inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame during a ceremony held in Chevy Chase, Md.
Surrounded by friends and family from as close as Massachusetts and as far as California, Snider was recognized for a lifetime’s worth of work that he has devoted to 4-H and its core values of head, heart, hands and health.
A bulk of that time has been spent specifically focused on health, advocating for the control of tobacco and helping to facilitate smoke-free environments.
“I just feel very strongly that I can have an influence,” Snider said.
While his professional affiliation with 4-H spans more than three decades, his association with the group stretches all the way back to his childhood.
His father taught vocational agriculture, and he was a 10-year-old boy coming of age in rural community — which meant 4-H was always going to be in his future.
“It was a fun thing to do and gave you a chance to meet a lot of different kids,” Snider said.
His involvement with the organization grew as he began his professional career, first as a 4-H youth agent at Michigan State, then as a 4-H specialist at Oregon State and finally as the state 4-H program leader in Pennsylvania.
The impetus for one of his biggest accomplishments came during a Penn State football game at Beaver Stadium.
Snider was headed to the restroom when he took notice of several smokers spread around the perimeter.
What may have been a periphery detail to most captured Snider’s attention immediately.
While serving as Pennsylvania’s state 4-H program leader, Snider had partnered with Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia to work with representatives from 19 different counties to establish tobacco prevention programs.
He has also spent more than a decade working to secure funding for tobacco prevention with the American Cancer Society.
“Unfortunately in Pennsylvania we have a lot of children and youth who use tobacco,” Snider said.
The threat that secondhand smoke posed to the lungs in Beaver Stadium didn’t sit with him.
That’s when I decided I was going to do something about it,” Snider said.
He met with Penn State’s director of design and construction to discuss the issue. In compliance with Pennsylvania’s Clean Indoor Air Act, passed in 2008, the stadium is now smoke free.
“We all appreciate a clean indoor air place,” Snider said.
National 4-H Hall of Fame honorees are nominated by their home states, National 4-H Council, the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents or 4-H National Headquarters. Snider was one of 16 people inducted during the ceremony.