Washington, DC – 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 Matthew Devereaux of the University of Tennessee will receive the 2019 Excellence in Extension Award and two Iowa State University-led teams will receive the National Extension Diversity Award. Both awards, along with Regional Excellence in Extension Awards, will be presented at a ceremony on Nov. 10 in San Diego, California during APLU’s 132nd Annual Meeting. NIFA and Cooperative Extension have sponsored the awards since 1991.
“NIFA is proud to support the national network of extension experts and educators through our land-grant institution partnership,” said NIFA Director J. Scott Angle. “This collaboration brings science-based knowledge to farmers, ranchers and community members to help them grow their businesses, raise healthy families and support their communities.”
“We applaud this year’s Excellence in Extension and National Extension Diversity Awards winners,” said Ed Jones, Associate Dean and Director of Extension, Virginia Tech, and Chair of the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy. “Their work stands as an exceptional example of the impact of Cooperative Extension for the people in all 50 states and five U.S. territories where more than 32,000 Cooperative Extension professionals serve.”
National Excellence in Extension Award
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.
Matthew Devereaux is Interim Assistant Dean and Department Head for Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Tennessee Extension. Much of Devereaux’s work has centered on developing innovative and highly impactful youth programs. Specifically, his research has focused on best practices for positively developing youth in after-school settings.
His findings show the importance of focusing heavily on a student’s social/emotional development during the beginning of the school year to improve learning as the year progresses. Devereaux’s research has shown students have greater gains in grades and standardized test scores when incorporating significant social/emotional learning programming that teaches students how to recognize, understand, label, express and regulate emotions. He’s also focusing on developing resources on adverse childhood experiences (ACES), mindfulness, quality childcare and early brain development. He’s aiming to examine the impact of positive fathering in future research.
National Diversity in Extension Award
The National Diversity Award recognizes significant contributions and accomplishments in achieving and sustaining diversity and pluralism.
Kimberly Greder, Professor of Human Sciences Extension and Outreach Family Life Specialist, leads efforts in Iowa to implement and evaluate extension programs to reduce educational and health disparities facing Latino families. Using Juntos Para Una Mejor Educación (Together for a Better Education), Greder and her teams helped 1,300 Latino youth and parents gain information, develop skills, access resources and broaden networks to help youth identify paths to post-secondary education.
In partnership with the University of Illinois, Iowa faculty engaged 262 parents and children of Mexican heritage in an extension research study focused on testing the efficacy of Abriendo Caminos, a curriculum designed to promote healthy lifestyles and reduce obesity risk. Preliminary findings revealed that families who participated had larger increases in good cholesterol levels, and larger decreases in bad cholesterol and blood inflammation, suggesting improved lifestyle behaviors reducing obesity risk. These efforts led to significant strides in expanding extension’s capacity to engage with and provide responsive programming to Iowa Latino families.
NIFA, Cooperative Extension, and APLU will also present four regional awards for excellence this year. The 2019 Regional Excellence in Extension recipients are:
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