CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Robert Kessler grew up on a dairy farm and always felt a connection to farming, but severe hay fever factored into his career decisions.
"I knew going back to the farm wasn't an option," he said.
Instead, Kessler turned to a career in agriculture education and in the process changed the way young people relate to farms in Franklin County, Pa. Thursday is his first day of retirement after 41 years with the Penn State Cooperative Extension in Franklin County.
"He touched almost 30,000 lives through 4-H," Franklin County Commissioner Bob Thomas said.
Kessler started working with the 4-H dairy clubs early in his time with the cooperative extension, then made that his full-time focus starting in 1972.
"I really enjoyed working with the kids," he said.
Kessler, who holds academic degrees in business, extension education and agronomy, fondly remembers exchange trips with other states. Youths in 4-H could spend a week with a family to participate in their routine activities and special ones planned for the group.