Each month, we highlight an Ohio 4-H alumnus with amazing stories to share—from their personal experience in 4-H to how they have given back to the program. This month we are featuring Susan McDonald, an alumna of Muskingum County 4-H who practices estate planning, probate, and real estate law at Gottlieb, Johnston, Beam & DalPonte, PLL.
The child of two 4-H volunteers, McDonald attended her first 4-H meeting when she was just a few weeks old. “At the time, my parents were both volunteers with the Muskingum County 4-H Junior Leadership Club. They met as staff members at 4-H Camp Ohio in 1948, and at 91, my mom Dorothy, is still a 4-H volunteer. It’s safe to say 4-H has always been in my blood!”
When she was old enough to join as a member, McDonald was quick to try many projects. “I showed market steers and completed sewing projects every year, but also tried my hand at woodworking, photography, leadership, and rabbit projects.” McDonald’s dedication to her project work was recognized at the Ohio State Fair, where she was selected to receive one of the coveted Outstanding of the Day ribbons for her work on her senior prom dress.
In addition to project work, McDonald benefited from participating in a variety of camps and trips offered through 4-H. She attended Ohio 4-H Conservation Camp and Leadership Camp, was on the State 4-H Fashion Board, participated in Ohio 4-H Club Congress and Citizenship Washington Focus, and went on exchange trips to Australia and Europe. McDonald also received the Consumer Science Achievement Award in 1990 and had the opportunity to attend National 4-H Congress in Chicago.
“These experiences have been invaluable to me,” said McDonald. “My parliamentary procedure just flows, whether I’m leading the county bar association, a board meeting at church, or a conversation at the law firm. Participating in International 4-H Youth Exchange trips also helped me develop a world view I would not otherwise have had.”
After graduating high school, McDonald continued her education at Muskingum University and Capital University Law School before moving home to Muskingum County and marrying her husband, James. Like her parents, McDonald also met her husband through 4-H. “He was a product of Muskingum County 4-H too, and we grew up several fence posts apart! We spent our summers at 4-H Camp Ohio, served on the Junior Fair Board, and showed beef cattle at the county fair.”
Every year, Susan and James are proud to welcome generations of 4-H families to their farm, McDonald’s Greenhouse & Corn Maze, through 4-H club tours, Cloverbud Day Camp, volunteer recognition nights, and wedding receptions for 4-H alumni. “We even celebrated the 100th anniversary of Extension in 2014 with a four-leaf clover maze design,” said McDonald.
She and James have followed in her parents’ footsteps as volunteers with the Muskingum County 4-H Junior Leadership Club and are continuing the tradition by raising their sons to be active 4-H’ers. “We cannot be more pleased that they caught the 4-H fever,” said McDonald. “Our county fair is truly a national holiday in their eyes!”