Award for Excellence in Extension

Definition of Excellence in Extension

The annual National Award for Excellence in Extension is presented to individuals who have strived throughout their careers through their local, state, regional, or national responsibilities to achieve the benchmarks reflective of excellence in Extension educational programming. These include, but are not limited to, demonstration of high impact of programs; visionary leadership and anticipation of emerging issues for clientele and the system; commitment to diversity; and integration of programs in partnership with university colleagues and outside clientele. Awardee should be recognized as a leader at his or her university, the communities served, and in the respective field of expertise. They should demonstrate the ability to garner a continual flow of resources for sustainable Extension programs and use innovative teaching methods.

Nomination and Review Process

Award nominations must be submitted using an online form by May 1, 5:00 p.m., Pacific Time. Committees formed by regional Cooperative Extension director/administrator associations (AEA, NEED, NCCEA, ASRED, WEDA) will review nominations from their respective region and recommend nominees to the ECOP Professional Development Committee. The ECOP Professional Development Committee will review regional recommendations and select recipients of the National and Regional awards as described below. All nominees, recipients and non-recipients of awards, and their nominators will receive letters as to the outcome of this process by the third week of July. The award letters from the Chair/Co-chairs of the ECOP Professional Development Committee will include details of receiving cash awards, media guidelines and travel to the APLU Board on Agriculture Assembly awards presentation at the APLU Annual Meeting in November.


Regional – An Extension professional selected from any of the regions, as defined below, deemed by a regional selection committee to exhibit sustained and meritorious Extension programming, and who has maintained at least five consecutive years of work experience in Extension.

  1. 1890s Region (including all 1890 US Land-grant institutions)
  2. North Central (IL, IN, IA, KS, MI, MN, MO, NE, ND, OH, SD, WI)
  3. Northeast (CT, DE, ME, MD, MA, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT, WV, DC)
  4. Southern (AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, OK, SC, TN, TX, VA, PR, USVI)
  5. Western (AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NV, NM, OR, UT, WA, WY, American Samoa, Guam, Micronesia, Northern Marianas

National – An Extension professional selected from the pool of regional award honorees described above, and deemed by the ECOP Professional Development Committee to exhibit sustained, meritorious and exceptional Extension programming.

Awards & Recognition

Honorees receive a cash award from the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP). A plaque from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Director is presented during the Awards Program at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) Annual Meeting in November. Travel stipends are typically provided by NIFA. Summaries of honoree’s excellent work are released to the national news media and published in the Food and Agricultural Sciences Excellence in College and University Awards Program: A Community of Scholars Honoring Excellence along with their professional portraits. Honorees are expected to submit an impact statement for the database which portrays Cooperative Extension impacts publicly (landgrantimpacts.org).


The nominee must be an active Cooperative Extension System professional (state, regional and/or county) with at least 50 percent EFT/FTE university appointment in Extension (Administrative EFT/FTE in these areas does not qualify) as of the deadline of the nomination. Further, the nominee must have responsibility for Extension programming for a minimum of five consecutive years.

Nominations may be submitted by a nominee, supervisor, or peer. However, nominations must include endorsement by the nominee’s institution Extension Director or Administrator or his or her designee, conveyed via signatures.

National award recipients are not eligible for renomination. Regional award honorees may be renominated for the national award three years or more after receiving the regional award. CLICK HERE to review the list of previous recipients. Current members of the ECOP are not eligible.

How to Prepare a Nomination

Specially designed blank forms provide assistance to organize and submit the following elements. The links to download these forms are found at the bottom of this page.

  1. Verify eligibility of nominee as identified above.
  2. Collect name, title, full address, phone number and email address of nominee to be submitted with the nomination.
  3. Draft wording for an award citation (15 words or less).
  4. Obtain electronic version of nominee’s curriculum vitae (CV).
  5. Draft a narrative of background information, including education, professional development, and experience that specifically relates to nominee’s Extension appointment (max. of 375 words).
  6. Obtain an electronic version of a signed letter of endorsement by the institution’s Extension Director or Administrator or his or her designee.
  7. Draft narratives to address each of the 5 evaluation criterion listed below (max. of 500 words each).

Evaluation Criteria

500 words or less for each criterion

  • Demonstrated high impact of programs, described by the following. Weight – 40%
    • The formal process by which needs that impact the public good were identified (10%)
    • How the educational program was established to meet these needs (15%)
    • Assessment of the program, specifically how the public good indicated by economic, social and/or environmental impact was evaluated (10%)
    • How innovation was used (5%)
  • Recognized excellence in one’s field of expertise as demonstrated by sustained external funding, awards, recognition, and request for regional/state/national addresses and speaking engagements; development of webinars, learning circles, online programs and resources, and appropriate publication of scholarly work, including journal articles, electronic fact sheets, and newsletters. Weight – 20%
  • Demonstrated innovation through impact data in regards to partnerships, funding, and educational program delivery. Weight – 20%
  • Ability to engage university colleagues in Extension programming with evidence of teamwork both within and outside of Extension. Weight – 10%
  • Demonstrated conveyance of cultural sensitivity and appreciation for diversity. Weight – 10%


  • Incomplete applications or applications in excess of the word limits may not be reviewed.
  • Normally no more than two nominations per institution are considered.
  • Only nominations submitted using the online forms will be considered in this process.


The due date for nominations is May 1st at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time. To be considered, nominations, submitted online, must be completed by this date and time.


Please contact Sandy Ruble, Assistant Director, Cooperative Extension/ECOP at 202.478.6088 or sandyruble@extension.org if there are questions.


Use links below to download Prep Forms according to region.

1890’s Extension Institutions

North Central Region

Northeast Region

Southern Region

Western Region

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