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Faculty and Staff Win Award at Extension Conference

The NC 4-H Empowering Youth and Families Program (EYFP) won the Research Friend of Extension Award at this year’s NC Cooperative Extension conference. Amy Chilcote (PI) and Dr. Autumn Guin (Co-PI) co-directed the program. Anne Greenaway (Co-PI) serves as EYFP Instructional Coordinator, and Kimberly Allen (Co-PI) serves as Family Life Specialist. The Research Friend of Extension Award honors employees who have demonstrated accomplishments above and beyond their regular programming efforts. 

EYFP is a collaborative effort between 4-H, FCS, 15 Cooperative Extension Offices in North Carolina and Tennessee, East Carolina University, and multiple community organizations that use family-based youth-adult partnerships to improve outcomes for youth and adults and their communities. EYFP is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Rural Health and Safety Initiative and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration’s Rural Opioid Technical Assistance Grants. In 2017, EYFP began with three North Carolina Counties with $350,000 from the Rural Health and Safety Education (RHSE) Grant Program through NIFA. Since that time, EYFP has received $2,200,000 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) and an additional $350,000 from the RHSE Grant Program. 

NC 4-H EYFP is an educational series that aims to:

  • reduce the likelihood of youth substance use in NC;
  • improve caregivers’ abilities to assist youth in making healthy choices;
  • improve family relationships; and
  • empower families to lead community change.

EYFP incorporates a 10-week Powerful Families, Powerful Communities (PFPC) curriculum, created by the NC 4-H Curriculum Team, to include the adverse childhood experiences protective factors research as the basis for a program that builds unique family-based youth-adult partnerships to protect families and communities from opioid misuse. The program uses volunteers from multiple community organizations in each county where it is implemented, which has allowed them to host 12 community events to educate their communities about the impact of opioids locally; 14,535 people attended these events.

The continued achievement of the EYFP team across North Carolina and in Tennessee has attracted the attention of the SAMHSA regional administrator who was excited to share the work of EYFP at The Coalition for Healthy Youth’s Prevention of Youth Substance Abuse in Rural Communities Conference, which emphasized the challenges of providing youth prevention programs in rural Communities. After Chilcote and Guin received the word, they commented, “We are so proud of the work that the Empowering Youth and Program Team does normally but especially proud of their work to pivot the program to meet the needs of youth and families during the past year. The program team is made up of amazing professionals who are not only competent in serving youth, families, and communities but who put their heart and soul into the work. We feel blessed and honored to work with the EYFP team and community partners in building and implementing a program that is worthy of celebration! We were pleasantly surprised at the honor.”

Congratulations on this outstanding award and extended success with the program.

Additional members of the team include:

  • Maru Gonzalez, youth development specialist
  • Sarah Kotzian, community events specialist
  • Kenan Bridges, 4-H healthy living coordinator
  • Tabitha Barnes, 4-H communications specialist
  • Niki Maness, program assistant in Yancey and Mitchell Counties
  • Carla Adams, EYFP program assistant in Burke County
  • Alex Kissinger, EYFP program assistant in Ashe and Allegheny Counties*
  • Adrienne Williams, program assistant in Nash County
  • Sara Little, EYFP program assistant in Montgomery County*
  • Lee Stiles, EYFP program assistant in Onslow and Carteret Counties
  • Haylee Allen, EYFP program assistant in New Hanover and Brunswick Counties*

* Those who have left EYFP since the award was submitted.