Annual Extension awards recognize excellence in programs and outreach

Colorado State University Extension recently highlighted the work of professionals from across the state with six awards as part of Forum, an annual week-long professional development opportunity. Forum is an opportunity for Extension agents and on-campus specialists to meet and discuss upcoming issues and develop strategies for tackling them.

F.A. Anderson Award

The F.A. Anderson Award recognizes outstanding performance by a state Extension employee throughout their career. F. A. Anderson was a college financial administrator who served as assistant to the Extension Director starting in 1921, and then as Extension Director from 1929 to 1952.

Cary Weiner, who received the award recently, leads the Extension Energy Planning and Reporting Unit (PRU). Their educational efforts reach over 2,000 Coloradans directly each year. His leadership has facilitated group events, individual consultations, kit loans, and assessments that extend the reach of energy education.

Weiner served as Chair of the inaugural National Extension Energy Summit in 2013, with 68 attendees from 28 states. This has become a biannual event at locations across the country that brings Extension energy professionals together for professional development.

“As an active participant in the Program Leadership Team, Cary co-led the establishment of the PRU system,” said Lou Swanson, Extension Director and vice president for Engagement. “His perspective helped to craft shared reporting outputs for Extension educational efforts.” Weiner continues to serve on the team that is reviewing and updating the measures.

The CSU Center for Collaborative Conservation awarded Weiner a fellowship in recognition of his efforts to bring various stakeholders together to meet the energy needs of small towns in rural Colorado. During each of six community energy assessments, he brought together local businesses, realtors, utilities, local governments, agricultural representatives, non-profits, and others to understand the challenges and opportunities of those communities related to sustainable energy.

Alton Scofield Award

The Alton Scofield Award recognizes outstanding performance by an Extension professional throughout their Extension career. Alton Scofield was a long time executive director of the Colorado Cooperative Council. This prestigious award by Extension for members of Extension is sponsored by the council.

This year there were two awardees of the Scofield award. “Tommy and Glenda both show levels of engagement among their county clientele that is a model for others,” said Swanson. “They are  valued by their communities and their willingness to serve is evidenced by their collaborative natures, selfless leadership and dedication.”

Tommy Covington, county director and Extension agent in Fremont County, was a lead team member bringing Ag Fest to the Peaks and Plains Region. Ag Fest occurs once a year, over four days, providing educational opportunities to fifth and sixth graders across the region. Covington has mentored many Extension agents, in addition to his work for Fremont County residents.

Glenda Wentworth is the county director in Eagle County, and her work in family and consumer sciences has garnered her the respect and confidence of her peers, CSU Extension administrators, county colleagues and clientele.

Her work with the Family Leadership Training Institute, Estoy Sano Project, WIN the Rockies, Wellness in Kids, the ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certification Training for restaurant workers and various personal financial management programs have specifically targeted the various needs of her county residents. Wentworth is highly regarded in her county, throughout the Western Region and as a strong collaborator in her PRU’s at the state level.

Team Award

The Extension Team Award recognizes a team of county, area, regional, state and/or interdisciplinary program employees. The CSU Extension Distinguished Service Team Award goes this year to the Collaborative On-Farm Test, or COFT, team.

The team supports Colorado growers, who depend on Colorado State University to provide unbiased, data-driven analysis and recommendations for adoption of new crop varieties. Team members work in collaboration with participating wheat farmers, which provides real-world test results of new varieties.  The Colorado Wheat Research Foundation contributes all of the seed, and Extension agents are on the ground to plant, cultivate, monitor fields and harvest.

Jerry Johnson initiated the COFT program in 1996. Over the course of the past 21 years, several generations of Colorado farmers have been able to see the results of varieties in the ground and to market, to make informed choices about their planting strategies.

 Community Engagement Distinguished Service Awards

The Community Engagement Award recognizes an individual or group exhibiting excellence in creating mutually beneficial and transformational relationships that address a public concern. There were four awards given out this year, in four distinct categories.

“The statewide awards were designed to recognize Extension agents and specialists working to address community need,” said associate vice president for Engagement, Kathay Rennels. “Nominators submitted work in their communities that was prompted through specific engagement opportunities.”

Gus Westerman, from Dolores County, was recognized for exceptional service in the area of RESILIENCY

Dolores County struggled for years to upgrade its public facilities due to a lack of funding and specifically the Road and Bridge County Shop. The County Shop was originally built in the 1950s and could not accommodate new (and old) equipment or have the ability to properly and safely service them. This was especially true during the winter months where much of the equipment was serviced half in/half out of the shop.

Since the 1990s, the County has been trying to replace the shop and Gus was tasked by the Commissioners to figure out how and if the project could move forward in a timely manner. Working with the commissioners, Westerman contracted with an architect to draw up preliminary plans and cost estimates, and worked with the Department of Local Affairs to secure a planning grant for the project.

The final project included and incorporated other county offices/facilities into the project including the GIS Addressing Department, Emergency Services with an Emergency Operations Center and a public meeting room.

Joy Akey was recognized for exceptional service to Golden Plains Area in the area of IMPACT.

Due to the rural nature of Yuma County, there are very limited resources related to youth nutrition education. Research shows developing healthy eating and activity habits at an early age will lead to those habits continuing into adulthood and reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases (such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease and cancer) linked to a person’s eating and exercise patterns.

Starting in 2004 Joy Akey worked with the Integrated Nutrition Education Program (INEP) coordinators from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center (UCHSC) to partner with the Wray Elementary School teachers to provide weekly nutrition lessons. The curriculum was tied to science and literacy standards and offered opportunities to try new foods, taught food preparation skills, encouraged team work through small group activities, and ultimately lead to increased fruit and vegetable consumption and physical activity.

Kid PHIT is a six-week, after school program series held each fall and spring at the WRAC where meeting rooms, kitchen facilities, an inside gym, and outside lawn areas are available. The goal is to teach children how to choose and make healthy snacks and encourage them to be active by exposing them to fun games and activities that can easily be done at home, at the park, on vacation, or wherever they may be. Each week is a one and a half hour program with 45 minutes of physical activity and 45 minutes of nutrition. Kid PHIT has become popular among numerous children who attend multiple sessions so the curriculum is ever changing. The mainstay topics include the food groups, food safety, and ways to be physically active, but these topics are presented differently.

The relationships built through these partnerships have opened other doors for collaboration as well. It creates a win-win situation and helps reinforce the benefit of working together to make a greater impact than could ever be achieved doing it alone. In addition, Extension is recognized as a valuable resource for nutrition and health information and has reached a multitude of non-traditional customers.

Carla Farrand, from Garfield County, was recognized for exceptional service to Garfield County in the area of RELATIONSHIP OUTCOMES.

In October 2015, Garfield Healthy Communities Coalition (LiveWell Garfield County) was selected as one of 19 Colorado Communities to participate in the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Inspire Initiative. The communities that were selected to be a part of this planning process were Parachute, Rifle, Silt and New Castle.

The goal of the GOCO Inspire Initiative is to provide youth with the opportunity to experience a diversity of outdoor places and activities. The barriers identified in western Garfield County to youth engagement with the outdoors included underfunded parks, poverty, limited informal and formal outdoor recreational opportunities, limited infrastructure for walking and biking and disconnects between and among programming organizations. The purpose of the planning process was to engage youth to identify and diminish, if not eliminate, the barriers to provide equitable opportunities for outdoor access.

Each community around the high schools recruited students to be a part of the youth advisory council. These youth council members surveyed other youth, parents and community members to see what the need was for natural areas, parks, trails and programming.

The youth presented the results in a community meeting. The community provided input into what the youth saw as the vision for new places, new programs and career pathway opportunities. This information was formulated into a proposal for community partners to submit their ideas for places, programs and pathways for an implementation grant. CSU Extension was one of many partners who worked together to review the submission ideas and work as a partner on the writing of a 2.9-million-dollar grant for three years for implementation of these ideas.

The benefits that the community has received because of the engagement with CSU Extension is a better understanding of the reach, breadth and programming that CSU Extension offers. These benefits have been extended by Garfield County providing Garfield County CSU Extension with additional funding, $88,000 per year with annual increases, to hire a 4-H STEM Program Associate and implement additional school enrichment and afterschool education. Kaycee Manuppella accepted the position this June and has extended the youth program for outdoor education and STEM education through the schools and her work with the STEM AmeriCorps volunteers. This partnership has shown that by working together we can expand our resources to meet the needs of our community. Garfield County and the communities within are very diverse, from economic status, educational background, language and cultural influences and the wants expressed by the youth councils across the county.

CSUE has taken on a facilitator role in many instances in order to lead the efforts of the GOCO Inspire grant writing committee, as well as other community outreach efforts. The community and its partnerships with CSU Extension have opened a wide variety of programs and partnerships to grow and build within each community. Through the partnership with CSUE, youth in the community with the assistance of the 4-H STEM Program Associate, AmeriCorps members, and Colorado Master Gardeners have been offered many opportunities, including to be trained as Junior Master Gardeners to work with their school gardens. With an eye on the future, Extension has in mind continuing to build the possibilities of school gardens and the Farm to School initiative through USDA and MyPlate.gov.

Morgan County Youth Safety Program, in recognition of exceptional service to Morgan County in the area of LEARNING & WISDOM.

Team Members:

Colorado State University Extension Agents
 Jennifer Cooney, Family and Consumer Science/ 4-H Youth Development Marlin Eisenach, Livestock/4-H Agent
, Aimee Kanode, Horticulture/Youth Agent
, Wilma Trujillo, Agronomist
, Jamie Dixon, Administrative Assistant
, Conner Gerken, Intern
, Janice Dixon, Morgan County Director/4-H and Youth

Community Members:
 Morgan County Schools: Brush, Fort Morgan, Wiggins and Weldon Valley Morgan County FFA Chapters, Advisors and Members
, Brush Recreation Department, 
Fort Morgan Fire Department
, Jackson Lake Rangers
, Morgan County Ambulance
, Morgan County REA, 
Operation Lifesaver
, Wickham Tractor Company

Farm machinery accidents were the most common cause of these fatalities in Morgan County.

In an effort to change this statistic, the Morgan County Extension staff developed youth educational program which included about safety in their home and on the farm. Partnering with county elementary schools, they developed a pilot program

Farm safety programs were presented in 1993 and 1996 to all 3rd – 5th grade youth in Morgan County. In 1999, the emphasis was broadened from farm safety to include general safety issues facing youth. Train, food and sun safety workshops were added. In 2002, schools were contacted to see which workshop offerings would fit the needs of their students. New safety workshops were also added to our program when the community dealt with accidents related to train, water and ATV safety. We have considered national statistics related to skin cancer and food poisoning and we added that content to the programs. Ten to fifteen workshops were offered at each school and continued to be offered in 2005, 2008, 2011, 2014 and this spring, 2017.

Youth receive information to take home to their parents and are encouraged during the workshops to share the information they learn during the day with siblings, parents and extended family members.

Current workshops include: Animal Safety, ATV Safety, Chemical Safety, Electrical Safety, Fire Safety, First on the Scene, Food Safety, Grain Entrapment, Lawn and Garden Safety, Power Take-Off, Sun Safety, Tractor Safety, Train Safety and Water Safety

A side benefit was that schools and collaborators learned that Extension could offer more than agriculture and 4-H programs. Extension gained a solid reputation for delivering high quality programs, by our collaborators and within the local schools.

In the 24 years since its inception, Morgan County staff has delivered 72 day long workshops at schools (every 3 years) for 3rd – 5th graders, reaching over 10,000 youth. Safety topics include grain entrapment, tractor rollover, power takeoff entanglement, ATV safety, chemical safety, lawn and garden safety, food safety, sun safety, water safety, train safety, seatbelt safety and safety around animals. Collaborators have included all Morgan County Elementary Schools (public and private), Morgan County FFA Chapters, Morgan County REA, Morgan County Ambulance Department and EMTs, Red Cross, Jackson Lake staff, City of Brush, Colorado State Patrol, and Operation Lifesaver.

Diversity Award

This year’s Diversity Team award goes to the Children, Youth and Families at Risk (CYFAR) Family Leadership Training Institute (FLTI) Colorado Team.

FLTI is designed to bring together people from all walks of life to explore the civic process and enhance leadership competencies. Participants grow in their leadership skills through an expanded understanding of the civic tool necessary to address health and social inequities. Participants in CYFAR FLTI include parents, family members, and adult mentors and their youth partners, ages 12-14.

The team members include community and campus partners. Through their work, participants have become change agents in their communities and in the state.

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