State 4-H agent Jeannette Rea-Keywood passed away at her home December 13, at the age of 56. She grew up on a lima bean farm in West Cape May, NJ with her parents Les and Diane Rea. Jeannette’s daughter Kiersten is a sophomore at Rutgers University.
As a young girl, Jeannette was involved in all aspects of 4-H from raising livestock, to sewing, to baking, to dog training, to arts ‘n’ crafts, to public speaking, to citizenship. Those childhood activities turned into a lifelong dream. According to her family, “She had such a passion for youth education and enrichment, she lived and breathed 4-H. Her heart was a four-leaf clover.”
After receiving her bachelor’s at Rutgers Cook College (CC ’87), Jeannette went on to earn her Master’s in ag & extension education at Ohio State University.
Jeannette joined the Rutgers Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development department in 1990 as the Cumberland County 4-H agent. Over the past decade, she served 4-H as a statewide agent. Jeannette believed deeply in the Cooperative Extension mission and was devoted to 4-H. The quality of her work in youth development, and the passion with which she performed it, were evident to all and reflected in numerous professional awards. Most recently she was a recipient of the Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE) faculty excellence award and the School of Environmental & Biological Sciences Team Excellence Award.
For the past few years, Jeannette worked with a colleague to build professional development and advance accessibility to Extension programs for those with developmental disabilities.
Throughout her accomplished career, Jeannette epitomized the spirit of service and leadership—within RCE, regional and national 4-H systems, and the Extension professionals’ organization, Epsilon Sigma Phi. She chaired the National 4-H Hall of Fame program for many years, deservedly sharing the stage with the nation’s most distinguished 4-H faculty, staff, and supporters. Her legacy of serving others is indeed humbling and will remain a source of inspiration for many.
Read more of Jeannette’s past accomplishments when she received the Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE) Award for Excellence–Extension Faculty in 2016: State 4-H Agent Jeanette Rea Keywood Honored With RCE Award for Excellence : Newsroom (rutgers.edu)
The viewing and funeral ceremony for Jeannette was December 20th at Spilker’s Funeral Home in Cape May, NJ. Jeannette “Missy” Rea-Keywood Obituary – Visitation & Funeral Information (spilkerfuneralhome.com)
In lieu of flowers, Jeannette’s family requests that donations be made to the New Jersey 4-H Gift Fund in her memory to support the 4-H programs she provided leadership to. Donations can be made online –Rutgers University – Foundation Online Giving – Gift Details (imodules.com).