Her Life of Influence

Bea Cleveland was widely known for her caring, generous, and tenacious nature—and her passion for 4-H.

Bea Cleveland

Bea Cleveland

Beatrice “Bea” Cleveland believed in reaching for the stars. Young people were her passion, making her life’s work with the Ohio 4-H a perfect match. In this role, Bea—who passed away in February 2012 at the age of 91—shared her time and experiences to improve the lives of boys and girls, inspire volunteer leaders, and ensure 4-H opportunities for future generations.

Bea graduated from what is now the College of Education and Human Ecology in 1942. Her legendary 65 years as a 4-H supporter, advocate, and educator included 32 years as a faculty member of Ohio State University Extension, with many of those in the state 4-H office. She also served at the national level by participating in the National 4-H Policy Committee, the National 4-H Foods and Nutrition Development Committee, and the National 4-H Foundation.

A successful fundraiser for 4-H, where she helped to establish the Madison County 4-H Endowment, Bea contributed the initial $500 for its launch. In addition to raising more than $1.5 million for the 4-H Foundation endowment, she made annual gifts to Ohio 4-H beginning in 1951. This created the Bea Cleveland 4-H Scholarship Award for high school students and grants for county 4-H advisor training. She also was recognized by The Neil Legacy Society for creating a bequest and funding charitable gift annuities to benefit Ohio State.

During her retirement years, Bea strongly supported organizations and groups, receiving numerous awards and recognitions for her work. She was inducted into the Ohio 4-H Hall of Fame, the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame, the Ohio State Fair Hall of Fame, and the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame. University honors included the Everett D. Reese Medal, the highest recognition awarded to fundraising volunteers, and the College of Education and Human Ecology Diamond University Award. In 2011, the Ohio 4-H Foundation Board announced the honorific naming of the Bea Cleveland Board Room in the Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center.

Dan Moore’s first memory of Bea was when he was 5 years old. At that time, Dan’s father, John, was the agricultural extension agent for Madison County and worked closely with Cleveland, who was the home economic extension agent. The pair changed lives and created programs that still exist.

In 1964, Dan was one of four Ohio delegates to the National 4-H Conference in Washington, D.C. He recalled the pride that Cleveland—who was a chaperone for the Ohio 4-H office—showed when Ohio students played a major role in the program. Nearly 40 years later, Dan again traveled to Washington to help honor Cleveland as she was inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame.

“Bea’s influence will live on through the happy memories that she gave to us,” he said. “She did more than give and raise money. For her, it was about the time she gave and the relationships she built, as well as the inspiration and love she shared with us.”

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