Larry Hageman: Cultivating food access through 4-H endowment

Photo of Larry Hageman speaking at a podium.
Larry Hageman

Larry Hageman is wrapping up his career by giving back to the organization that played a pivotal role in his personal and professional development: 4-H. His recent gift to create an endowed 4-H State Award will provide an annual scholarship to support Illinois 4-H members engaged in programs related to food access, food production, or agronomy.

“Larry has left an indelible mark both through his successful, decades-long career and now as a donor supporting future generations of 4-Hers who will go on to ensure our food supply,” said Angie Barnard, executive director of the Illinois 4-H Foundation

By endowing the scholarship, Hageman has created a perpetual source of funding to support Illinois 4-H, part of University of Illinois Extension and the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at U. of I. “I firmly believe in the power of an endowment — people come and people go, but an endowment goes on forever,” he said.

Hageman said it would be “grand” for others to follow suit to endow scholarships related to  4-H project areas that span nearly 80 topics such as aerospace, beef, computer science, interior design, welding, and much more. 

“Those of us who grew up in farm families are hyper-aware of the boom and bust aspect to this industry,” Hageman said. “What we can provide is an even-keeled, always-there-for-you, dependable support that this organization can count on.” 

He was inspired to give back to show his appreciation for the formative influence of the 4-H organization as well as his 4-H advisors John Bushman and Doris Kelley Christopher, who went on to found Pampered Chef and create the Doris Kelley Christopher Illinois Extension Center that will soon house Illinois 4-H. 

“Without 4-H, I am not sure that I would have achieved a Ph.D. and a 40-year career in crop protection,” said Hageman, who graduated from the College of ACES in 1978 and went on to earn his master’s and doctorate from the University of Minnesota. “I had a wonderful career that I greatly enjoyed, and the seeds for my success were planted through 4-H — there’s no doubt in my mind about that.”

With this scholarship, Hageman aims to help shape the future of the industry that he served for decades as a research field station manager for DuPont and the FMC Corporation. He played an instrumental role in the development of several well-known herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides and helped move the needle toward ever safer and environmentally sound crop protection practices. 

“One driver of this scholarship is to encourage more 4-H members to consider food access and higher education as part of their career path,” he said. “I also want to reward students who will play an active role in expanding our crop enterprise.” 

4-Hers can apply online to be considered for the Larry Hageman 4-H State Award. To invest in Illinois 4-H members and programs, contact the Illinois 4-H Foundation at or 217-333-9295.