Dr. Sweeten is originally from Kokomo, Indiana and his life-long passion for the outdoors and aquatic ecosystems was nurtured along the shores of Bruce Lake in Fulton County where his grandfather had a small fishing cabin. After graduating from Manchester College in 1975 with a degree in Biology and Environmental Studies, he worked for the State Department of Education in Environmental Education, taught science in Attica Schools and was Director of the Asherwood Environmental Science Center in Wabash County and owned by Marion Community Schools for 25-years. He earned a Masters in Natural Resources from Ball State University, and a Ph.D. from Purdue University where he studied the effects of suspended sediment on the early life stages of young fish and worked on one of the earliest research initiatives that quantified nutrient and sediment loads from agricultural nonpoint sources.
From 2004-2018 Dr. Sweeten was Professor of Biology and Director of Environmental Studies at Manchester College and was awarded Emeritus status at retirement. During his tenure, the Environmental Studies Program grew from six students in 2004 to 55 in 2015. Students were engaged in ecological restoration research across the Eel River watershed. Over $2,000,000 in grants was obtained to complete research that dealt with farmers to reduce nonpoint source pollution, fish and mussels, prototype fish ladder, augmentation of a state endangered fish (Redside Dace), reintroduction of a federally endangered mussel (clubshell) to the Eel River among many others. Dr. Sweeten along with Melinda led numerous travel courses to Alaska and Andros Island, Bahamas.
After retirement 2018, Dr. Sweeten along with his wife, Melinda, and Herb Manifold founded Ecosystems Connections Institute, LLC. Achievement recognition includes: Professor of the year, Carnegie Foundation for Advancement of Teaching, Indiana Distinguished Citizen, Environmental Stewardship Award: Manchester University, Distinguished Alumni Award, Ball State University, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management, and Outstanding Research, Indiana Chapter of the American Fisheries Society.