Harold Swanson, a native of Maple Lake, Minnesota, was born March 2, 1917. He received a bachelor's degree in journalism (magna cum laude) in 1939 and a master's degree in agricultural economics in 1949, both from the University of Minnesota. He also received a doctorate in extension administration in 1965 from the University of Wisconsin.
He joined the Minnesota staff in 1939 as a bulletin editor. Following more than three years in the Army during World War II, he returned to the university in 1946 as news editor in the Department of Information and Agricultural Journalism. From 1948 to 1974, he was head of the Department of Agricultural Journalism and director of communications for the extension service. He also worked as advertising manager of the Plainview (Minnesota) News and as a writer for an Army newspaper.
He retired from the extension service in 1980, but continued to teach part time until 1984, when he retired completely. Since retiring, he has been executive secretary of the North Central Chapter of the National Agri-Marketing Association.
Swanson has also served as president of Gamma Sigma Delta and Epsilon Sigma Phi. He is active in the Kiwanis Club, his church and other organizations.
His honors include a Superior Service Award from the U. S. Department of Agriculture (1963), the Minnesota Adult Educator of the Year Award (1974), the ACE Professional Award (1977), and the ACE Teaching and Training Award (1982).