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News & Media

USDA, Cooperative Extension & APLU Award Top Honors in Extension Excellence and Diversity

November 1, 2021

Recognizing visionary leadership and diversity in educational programming, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Cooperative Extension, and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) today announced that Ann Allgood Berry of the University of Tennessee will receive the 2021 Excellence in Extension Award while the Coming Together for Racial Understanding Team will receive the National Extension Diversity Award. USDA-NIFA and Cooperative Extension have sponsored the awards since 1991.

The Excellence in Extension Award is given annually to one Cooperative Extension professional who excels at programming, provides visionary leadership and makes a positive impact on constituents served. Ann Allgood Berry is an Extension specialist at the University of Tennessee, where she is responsible for developing, implementing and evaluating consumer economics programs to support outreach through the University of Tennessee’s network of family and consumer science and 4-H youth development agents in 95 counties across the state. By conducting 124 teacher workshops, personal finance instruction reached 1.2 million high school students. The estimated impact of this Consumer Economics programs is $297,261,026

“Each year, these awards showcase the fundamental, transformative difference Cooperative Extension continues to make in our society,” said NIFA Director Dr. Carrie Castille. “This important partnership and excellent programs like these are a testament to the true value of Cooperative Extension capacity funds more than a century after the Smith-Lever Act created this unparalleled system of outreach and education that enriches every community across the nation.”

National Diversity in Extension Award
The National Diversity Award recognizes significant contributions and accomplishments in achieving and sustaining diversity and pluralism.

The Coming Together for Racial Understanding Team, comprised of Extension specialists and administrators from 22 land-grant universities from 17 states, and other national representatives, is the winner of the National Diversity Award. The team helped train facilitators who guided community dialogues across the country around issues of race and discrimination.

The effort involved 29 states sending teams for national training, with more than 100 participants completing train-the-trainer workshops. All told, over 900 Cooperative Extension System staff completed some portion of the trainings.

Regional Awards
NIFA, Cooperative Extension, and APLU will also present five regional awards for excellence this year. The 2021 Regional Excellence in Extension recipients are:

  • 1890 Institutions Region: Michelle L. Eley, Community and Economic Development Specialist, North Carolina A&T State University, for communication and economic development for underserved agricultural and rural audiences.
  • North Central Region: Ashley L. Mueller, Extension Specialist, Disaster Education Coordinator, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, for disaster education leading to increased community preparedness and resilience.
  • Northeast Region: Harry Crissy, Business and Community Vitality Extension Educator, The Pennsylvania State University, for promoting access to broadband Internet.
  • Southern Region: Robert C. Kemerait, Jr., Extension Specialist, Plant Pathology, University of Georgia, for advancing public understanding of managing major disease threats to Agronomic Crops.
  • Western Region: Ana Lucia Fonseca, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Specialist, Oregon State University, for advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion for all learners.

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