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Crawford, Harold R.

Published onJul 30, 2021
Crawford, Harold R.

(February 9, 1925 - May 27, 2020)

Quick Facts

Harold Crawford, a World War II veteran, served as an instructor of agricultural education, and associate dean and director of international programs for the College of Agriculture at Iowa State University.

Harold Crawford, Iowa State University agricultural education and studies professor, speaks at the dedication for the Harold and Rachel Crawford Agricultural Teacher Education Complex. Source:

Crawford, born February 9, 1925, worked on his family’s farm in Pennsylvania before enlisting in the Navy at the age of eighteen. After attending basic training and gunnery school, he was stationed on an amphibious assault ship in the South Pacific during World War II. His vessel rotated between Leyte and the island of Okinawa, where he was located when the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan. With the end of the war, Petty Officer 2nd Class Crawford returned home to Beaver County, Pennsylvania in 1946 where he found a job working for a local civil engineer.1

With the benefits he received from the GI Bill, Crawford enrolled in the pre-veterinary medicine program at Tarkio College in Missouri, where he would meet his future wife, Rachel McGowan. In the fall of 1948, he enrolled at Iowa State College (now University) and decided to pursue a career in vocational-agricultural education. Crawford graduated with a degree in agricultural education in 1950 and began teaching vocational-agriculture at the high school level in Story City and Sac City. While teaching, Crawford continued his education, and received his master’s degree in agricultural education in 1955, and ten years later began teaching in the agricultural education department at Iowa State. Crawford earned his PhD in agricultural education in 1969 and was promoted to head of the Department of Agricultural Education in 1971. In 1981, Crawford was appointed as associate dean in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and became director of international agriculture programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in 1983. He served his passion of helping students achieve their goals as a teacher for over 50 years before his retirement in 2007.2


Crawford was an effective and innovative teacher who took a deep personal interest in his students and was dedicated to developing the next generation of agricultural educators. Crawford’s motto as a professor was, “Teaching is to serve, serving is to give, and giving is to live.” He developed a mobile microcomputer lab for off-campus instruction, a dozen of which he hauled in a van across Iowa to educate teachers about the developing technology of computers. Crawford recognized the value in providing distance education for students who were unable to travel to Iowa State’s campus, and still today the college assists students who are pursing both bachelor’s and master’s degree by providing distance education classes.3 In his role as director of international programs, he was a major facilitator in the establishment of a Partnership Educational Center in Costa Rica, as well as the Brenton Center for Agricultural Instruction at ISU.4 He coordinated grant proposals totaling $21 million for partnership projects, and worked to help tribal colleges through a program funded by a United States Department of Agriculture Initiative which produced over $4 million in for aid National Resource Education to four tribal colleges in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska.5

During his long career at Iowa State, Crawford was the recipient of numerous prestigious awards. He received the George Washington Carver Distinguished Service Award from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences for his outstanding achievements in the fields of agricultural, food, environmental, social, and life sciences. Crawford also received the Outstanding International Service Award, an alumni medal for distinguished service to Iowa State University, as well as lifetime achievement awards from the Regional, State, and National Associations of Agricultural Educators.

On October 21, 2011 he and his wife were honored Iowa State’s dedication of the Harold and Rachel Crawford Agricultural Teacher Education Complex in Curtis Hall.6 Even after retirement, Crawford continued to encourage students in agricultural education by writing grant proposals and working on historical projects.7

Perhaps no motto was more important to Harold’s philosophy and passion for teaching than this: “To teach is to serve. To serve is to give. To give is to live.”

Crawford passed away May 27, 2020.

Selected Sources

Harold Crawford Papers, RS 9/6/12, University Archives, Iowa State University Library, Ames, Iowa.


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