UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A new scholarship created by an alumnus of Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences and his wife will benefit students in the college with demonstrated financial need, with first preference going to those from the northwestern Pennsylvania counties of Crawford, Erie, Mercer and Warren.
With a $50,000 gift, Les and Elaine Firth, of Mercer, established the Firth Family Trustee Scholarship.
Les Firth, a long-time educator and administrator for Penn State Extension, earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in animal industry and agricultural economics at Penn State in 1958 and 1961, respectively.
During his undergraduate years, Les was active in Delta Theta Sigma fraternity and various animal science student activities. He was named Mr. Agriculture during his senior year.
In 1957, Les served as an Extension summer assistant in Erie County. With that experience, he set a goal to work as a county Extension agent upon graduation.
Thus began a career of 38-plus years working in Extension, first in Erie County and later as county extension director in Mercer County from 1965 until his retirement in 1996. The Mercer County office of Penn State Extension is named for him.
He was a member of the board of the College of Agricultural Sciences Alumni Society, for which he also served as president. He was elected twice to the Penn State Alumni Association executive committee and served all six years as chair of the association’s Grass Roots Committee In 2003, Les received the Outstanding Alumnus Award from the college, which also inducted him into its Armsby Honor Society.
After receiving her bachelor’s degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Elaine Firth worked as an educator for Penn State Extension in Butler County until she married Les in 1960. While a full-time mother, Elaine also served as a 4-H leader, church board member and foods judge at several county fairs.
She later became a home economics teacher and is now retired. The Firths have three daughters, all graduates of Penn State.
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