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Honoring Excellence: AHS and N.C. Cooperative Extension Shine at NEAFCS Conference

Several members of the Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences and N.C. Cooperative Extension agents had the opportunity to present at the National Extension Association of Family & Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) conference held last week in Providence, Rhode Island. NEAFCS is dedicated to educating and honoring Extension professionals who contribute to enhancing the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through various means, including food safety, nutrition, financial management, healthy lifestyles, home and work environments, safety, and valuable relationship and parenting skills.

Mary Yavelak, a member of the Safe Plates team, took the stage to present “Safe Plates FSIC: A Social Media Education Approach.” Her presentation was a deep dive into how Safe Plates effectively utilizes social media interventions to fulfill its mission of elevating food safety knowledge and practices among consumers. By providing practical, science-based information for everyday situations, Safe Plates is making a significant impact in this crucial domain.

Mary Yavelak presenting at the NEAFCS Conference

Ellen Shumaker also made a presentation titled “Food Safety Extension Network: Supporting Consumer, Retail, and Home-based Businesses.” She shed light on the creation and purpose of The Food Safety Extension Network (FSEN), which has been established to meet the growing demand for food safety support across various sectors. This network extends its support to home food preservation, consumer food safety, retail food safety, and home-based businesses and cottage foods, making it a vital resource for diverse stakeholders. FSEN has 17 universities and colleges within its network.

Furthermore, Rhonda Peters had the opportunity to present a poster on her Teen Cuisine program, which leverages the resources of Virginia Cooperative Extension. This program collaborated with two schools to enhance health through comprehensive nutrition education, food preparation skills, and a focus on food safety—an exemplary initiative fostering healthier lifestyles among young individuals.

In addition to these outstanding presentations, our department’s members and N.C. Cooperative Extension agents achieved notable recognition and awards:

  • The Safe Plates team received the first-place award for Social Media Education, recognizing their pioneering efforts in leveraging social media for education. They also earned third place in Internet Education Technology, demonstrating excellence in the realm of online education and technology.
  • Rhonda Peters earned first place for the School Wellness Award, celebrating her exceptional work in promoting the physical, emotional, and social well-being of students, staff, and families within school communities. Her efforts encompass a broad spectrum of areas, from nutrition and fitness to character education and more.
  • Niki Maness earned the third place Marketing Package Award, honoring her exceptional marketing skills in promoting Family and Consumer Sciences issues and programs effectively.
  • Finally, we recognize the noteworthy achievements of Hayley Cowell and Olivia Patchel, both esteemed extension agents, who were honored with the Distinguished Service Award. This prestigious award recognizes their outstanding leadership, contributions to exemplary programs, and commitment to personal and professional growth within the field of Extension FCS Education.

We extend our heartfelt congratulations to all of our accomplished team members and agents for their dedication, innovation, and unwavering commitment to advancing the mission of our department, N.C. Cooperative Extension and NEAFCS. These achievements are a testament to the positive impact they are making in the lives of individuals, families, and communities across the nation.