For Stephen Cassell, 4-H meetings, camps and events took him to new places, introduced him to new people and taught him lessons he would carry with him for the rest of his life.
It was a growing experience for me and I wanted to pass that experience on to others,Cassell said.
To ensure that other youngsters would experience the same growth, Cassell created a West Virginia University Extension Service 4-H endowed scholarship fund for Pendleton County youth. The $25,000 endowment will support county and state camping as well as travel and training expenses for judging teams from the county.
My experience in county camps, livestock and horticulture judging, Older Members Conference, and Alpha Camps on the state level, and the Leadership Academy at the national 4-H facility in Chevy Chase, Md., definitely had an impact on my willingness to explore career opportunities that were presented to me,he said.
The son of Grey and Mary Catherine Cassell of Brandywine, the 37-year-old Cassell grew up in Pendleton County. His father served as superintendent of schools in both Pendleton and Hampshire Counties. For a time his mother was his 4-H club leader for the Shenandoah Stars 4-H Club in Brandywine.
Growing up in Pendleton County, 4-H was a natural part of community life and was a part that Cassell relished. During his 4-H career he was somewhat of anoverachiever�€completing 20 projects a year, covering nearly every 4-H discipline.
He has explored new things and met new people in his life. He earned a bachelors in music and economics at Bates College in Maine and a masters in business administration at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. His career path has taken him from Miami, to Brazil, to his current home in Mexico City, Mexico. For the past two-and-a-half years, he has been the general manager for the Mexico Division of Stryker Corp., a leading, worldwide producer of medical products and services.
4-H gave me my first opportunity to explore the possibilities and experiences that existed outside of my life in Brandywine. It was a growing experience that taught me to value and experience new people and new things, which is what I have done on a larger scale in my personal life,Cassell said.
Creating an endowment for camping scholarships for Pendleton County 4-Hers seemed only natural to Cassell.
Im part of a generation that believes it is important to be supportive of other people and to give back wherever you can,he said. Cassell has created an endowment while only in his 30s, a fact that he sees as only natural.I think,why not give back now, so I can see some of what is going to happen with this scholarship program.There was no reason to wait.
Creating the scholarship endowment will ensure that more youths are able to experience camps and competitions on the state and national level, he said.
The financial expense shouldnt be a barrier to experiencing Alpha Camp which expands horizons and allows participants to see the world in a different perspective,Cassell said.
I would definitely recommend that others create endowments to support the mission and programs of 4-H. In 4-H there is so much to do to keep the interest of youth, to help expand their interests,he said.
Living such a great distance from West Virginia, Cassell created his endowment entirely through e-mail and over the internet and was impressed with the ease of the on-line process.
I just happened to see the WVU Extension Service Development Quarterly newsletter and realized that I could donate on-line via credit card. It certainly made the process easier for me, and added a level of flexibility that I think will be key to the future of fundraising for the university,Cassell said.
Cassells gift was made through the WVU Foundation, a private, non-profit corporation that generates and provides support for WVU .