Dr. Betty Crickard McCartney never intended to make a career in West Virginia University Extension Service, but she says “the bug” bit her, and 50 years later she is a “very thankful retiree.”

“If we are able, I believe those of us who are reaping the rewards of our careers in Extension should give back to the program that we know has changed the lives of youths and adults over the years,” McCartney said. “A commitment to do so provides a fulfilling and worthwhile feeling.”

McCartney has made a five-year commitment to support the 4-H Health Initiative through the Dr. Betty Crickard McCartney 4-H Health Initiative Fund. Her support will go directly to counties to provide training for club health officers and other county support as needed, including program supplies and travel costs for volunteers and WVU Extension Service personnel.

The 4-H Health Initiative, which affects about 20,000 youths throughout the state annually through 4-H clubs, increases knowledge about health and motivates 4-Hers and families to try new health habits and to improve others. Club health officers present lessons at each 4-H meeting to help their peers learn healthy habits. The theme each year varies, from healthy eating habits, to exercise, to the importance of brushing teeth.

The program and its goals resonated with McCartney, who has a bachelor degree in dietetics and who spent much of her career working with youth throughout the state. She began her career with Extension in September 1951 as a 4-H agent in Upshur County and retired in 1990 as the state director of home economics and 4-H programs. During her tenure with Extension, she worked in Randolph and Cabell counties, as well as serving as an area program coordinator based in Charleston.

“I have had a longtime interest in the problem of obesity in pre-teen children,” McCartney said. “Obesity is a major problem in our state, and I believe it is possible to change family eating habits through education with children.”

McCartney also thought it was important to focus her funding on helping the program at the county level.

“The real work of Extension is carried out at the county level,” she said. “It is at the county level that one has the opportunity to see results firsthand. People grow and develop, young people go to college and succeed, lives change. The county agent is on the cutting edge of what happens to people and probably has the most satisfying job in Extension.”

McCartney earned her bachelor’s from Berea College, her master’s in human development from the University of Maryland, and her doctorate in educational administration from Walden University. She also served as a National 4-H Fellow for one year through the United States Department of Agriculture.

“I grew up in an Extension family and 4-H was an important part of my life. I attended National 4-H Club Congress while I was in college,” she said. “When I graduated, jobs in my field were very plentiful and many opportunities availed; however, my father was very ill and I needed to be somewhere in West Virginia.”

McCartney said she had a wonderful career in extension.

“My job provided good benefits, opportunity for educational advancement, challenging and creative opportunities, and wonderful friendships. Above all, I believe Extension has positively affected the quality of life of scores of West Virginia families—and that’s what it is all about.”

McCartney said being an Extension professional requires a commitment to helping people grow and develop to their potential.

“Therein lies the satisfaction that is so rewarding,” she said.

McCartney’s gift was made through the WVU Foundation, a private non-profit corporation that generates and provides support for West Virginia University.


CONTACT: Julie Cryser, West Virginia University Extension
304-293-5691, ext. 3307, Julie.Cryser@mail.wvu.edu