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Cooperative Extension Awards Top Honors in Excellence and Diversity

November 10, 2013—Recognizing visionary leadership and diversity in educational programming, Cooperative Extension today honored Jeffery T. Edwards of Oklahoma State University with the National Excellence in Extension Award, Susan Given-Seymour of Northwest Indian College with the National Extension Diversity Award, and five regional honors during the 2013 Food and Agriculture Excellence Awards at the 126th APLU Annual Meeting now underway in Washington, DC. The Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP), the representative leadership and governing body of Cooperative Extension, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture have sponsored the awards since 1991.

The National Excellence in Extension Award is given annually to one Cooperative Extension professional at an APLU institution who excels at educational programming, provides visionary leadership, and makes a positive impact on the constituents they serve. The five regional awards were presented to Marion F. Simon of Kentucky State University; Kimberly A. Greder of Iowa State University; Elaine P. Bowen of West Virginia University; Denise M. Holston-West of Louisiana State University; and Brian J. Higginbotham of Utah State University. The National Diversity Award recognizes significant contributions and accomplishments in achieving and sustaining diversity and pluralism in Cooperative Extension.

“The nationwide Cooperative Extension System applauds the outcomes-based programming of these exemplary educators,” said Daryl Buchholz, chair of the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy, and associate director of Kansas State University’s K-State Research and Extension. “Their work of translating research for practical application, engaging learners to take positive action, and transforming lives, businesses, and communities through education provides a shining example of Cooperative Extension’s relevance and impact.”

Edwards serves as the small grains Cooperative Extension specialist and Warth Distinguished Professor of Agronomy at Oklahoma State University (OSU). Since 2004, Edwards has supervised Extension and research programs focused on increasing productivity, profitability, and end-use quality of the Oklahoma small grains industry through improved management practices.

As the information exchange lead for OSU’s Wheat Improvement Team, Edwards worked to increase adoption of improved wheat cultivars and IPM practices. In 2010 alone, the adoption of a disease and Hessian-fly resistant cultivar on eight percent of Oklahoma’s wheat acres equated to a roughly 4.2 million bushels of wheat increase statewide with a market value of approximately $40 million. Edwards has received more than $4.5 million in external awards from both nationally competitive programs and commodity-based support. He served as the Crop Science Society of America Division C3 Chair and was named the 2007 Wheat Promoter of the Year by the Oklahoma Wheat Growers Association.

“It has been an honor to serve the people of the great state of Oklahoma over the past decade,” Edwards said. “This award not only recognizes my program, but also the outstanding support provided by the Oklahoma wheat industry and the programmatic freedom within the Oklahoma State Cooperative Extension Service that has allowed me to incorporate social media and new technologies into my program.”

For more than two decades, Northwest Indian College Cooperative Extension has initiated and expanded programs and conferences for Native Americans from Pacific Northwest tribes, including individual and family health and wellness; revitalization of traditional culture and arts; financial literacy; tribal museum studies; positive parenting; youth development; life skills; job readiness; and professional development. Conference topics included healthy lifestyles through traditional foods and medicines; weavers teaching weavers; family strengthening through culture; financial literacy; best practices among native language teachers; diabetes control and prevention; healing from historical trauma; fetal alcohol syndrome/effects prevention; and addictions recovery. Northwest Indian College is a member of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), which is a member of APLU.

Susan Given-Seymour leads the Northwest Indian College Cooperative Extension team as director of outreach and community education and director of Cooperative Extension. She gives credit for all the work of her department to her team and her husband, David, who served as the department’s grantwriter for the past 12 years.

“It is an honor to be recognized by the wider land-grant university body of institutions for our work in Extension,” Given-Seymour said. “Every year Northwest Indian College serves students from over 100 different sovereign nations. Through Cooperative Extension we promote the diversity of cultural knowledge within these nations, working with family wellness, food sovereignty, financial independence, and ecosystems, to promote a better quality of life.”

The recipients of 2013 Regional Awards for Excellence in Extension are:

  • 1890 INSTITUTIONS REGION: Marion F. Simon, professor and state Extension specialist for Small Farm and Part-time Farmers and interim chair of the Division of Food and Animal Sciences at Kentucky State University, for the creation of programs that benefits thousands of Kentucky farmers each year including The Socially Disadvantaged Farmer Outreach Program and theThird Thursday Thing;
  • NORTH CENTRAL REGION: Kimberly A. Greder, associate professor and family life state program specialist in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Iowa State University, for focusing on family resiliency, with an emphasis on family health and well-being and parenting including her efforts on the multi-state research programs, Rural Families Speak about Healthand Partnering with Parents;
  • NORTHEAST REGION: Elaine P. Bowen, associate professor, Extension specialist for health promotion at West Virginia University Extension Service, for work as West Virginia University Extension’s health promotion specialist focusing on tackling chronic health issues, including dental health, heart disease, women’s health, and childhood obesity;
  • SOUTHERN REGION: Denise M. Holston-West, instructor and Smart Bodies program director in the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service at the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, for directing LSU’s AgCenter’s Smart Bodies program, a comprehensive, school-based, nutrition education and physical activity program for elementary children;
  • WESTERN REGION: Brian J. Higginbotham, associate vice president and associate director of Utah State University Cooperative Extension, for statewide leadership in directing Extension programs, including the Stepfamily Education program, a 12-hour course offered in English and Spanish to educate stepfamilies on parenting and relationship quality.

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