ESP presents awards at annual meeting

North Carolina’s Xi Chapter of Epsilon Sigma Phi professional development society presented awards to Extension professionals at its annual meeting in Raleigh Nov. 17. Award winners, along with a description from their nominations, are listed here.

Meritorious Support Award – Susan Johnson, Cumberland County

For 14 years, Susan Johnson has assisted the Cumberland County Extension staff with a variety of tasks and activities. In doing so, she developed a rapport with local residents, customers and county officials. She is always smiling and eager to help anyone and everyone with whatever they might need when they call or walk through the Extension office doors. She is a true ambassador of North Carolina Cooperative Extension.

Early Career Service Award – Kelly Beasley, FCS Agent, Craven County

Kelly Beasley continues to develop a family and consumer sciences program that is diverse, addresses identified needs in the county and incorporates the guidance of her advisory group. Beasley makes excellent use of the programs and resources available from Extension specialists, while using her creativity and imagination to provide a local touch to her program delivery. She also demonstrates a commitment to professional improvement through in-service training and pursuit of her graduate degree.

Mid-Career Service Award – Crystal M. Smith, Hertford County Extension Director

Crystal Smith is a dedicated Extension professional who is devoted to the mission of North Carolina Cooperative Extension. For the past 15 years, she worked as a 4-H youth development agent and enjoyed seeing the rewards of her tireless efforts. In her new role as county Extension director, she is pleased to work with a team of dynamic Extension professionals who are embrace the mission of North Carolina Cooperative Extension.

Bernadette Watts Professional Improvement Scholarship Award – Sam Groce, Chatham County Extension Director
Sam Groce will use the Bernadette Watts Professional Improvement Scholarship award in 2012 to conduct a professional development tour of several northeast Texas counties to see innovative initiatives developed to support agricultural economic development. This professional development tour will feature specialty ranches and allow Groce to observe the historic drought along with recovery efforts being made by farmers and ranchers, as well as the Texas Agri-Life Extension Service.

Visionary Leadership Award – Dr. David Green, Department Extension Leader, Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences
David Green spearheaded efforts on behalf of other faculty and staff members to establish the NC Entrepreneur Initiative for Foods in 2011. He was awarded $1.2 million from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to provide regulatory training in acidified food products. His passion for delivery of science-based educational programs and fostering standards of excellence in the Extension system, Extension profession, food industry and citizens of North Carolina is exemplary.

Team Award – NC Fresh Produce Safety Task Force – members: Ben Chapman, Diane Ducharme, Chris Gunter and Trevor Phister
Since it was established in 2007, the N.C. Fresh Produce Safety Taskforce has helped more than 400,000 people learn about produce safety and helped them develop the skills through research and education to produce safer product and compete in the marketplace. The group’s first goal was to train Extension agents in Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs). Since then, the team has developed a curriculum and trained 152 Extension agents and more than 650 growers. Through outreach to other states, the team has touched many more people. The teams’ economic impact in North Carolina alone is believed to be nearly $200,000.

Distinguished Service Award – Spring Williams-Byrd, Burke County Extension Director
Spring Williams-Byrd has been a committed and dedicated Extension professional for the past 22 years. She has continued to share her knowledge, skills and experiences with colleagues and citizens throughout the United States in an effort to provide opportunities that will help them grow and be successful. Williams-Byrd has taken on a variety of leadership roles to help move our organization forward.

County Performance Awards:
Southeast District – Brunswick County

The entire Extension staff in Brunswick County is involved in the Life on the Farm program, a field trip for 3rd graders geared towards the standard course of study. The Life on the Farm program offered by Brunswick County 4-H, Cooperative Extension staff, Master Gardener volunteers and Funston Farms a local farm), gives students a chance to experience a “day of life on the farm” with hands-on learning that helps students learn and results higher test scores in plant physiology.

Northeast District – Hertford County
In Hertford County, the Extension staff held its first ever open house for county residents and assessed the impacts of the local Farm to Fork initiative relevant to the community. The Extension team is “Empowering People and Providing Solutions” to the citizens of Hertford County. They pride themselves in providing research-based information to youth and adults that is making an impact. Often times, they hear clients say, “I didn’t know Extension did that!” They smile with gratitude and reply, “Are you interested in any other opportunities we offer?”

South Central – Montgomery County
The Montgomery County staff graduated its first ever class of Master Gardener volunteers with nine members. The staff is a very enthusiastic group that believes in the team approach. As the needs of the community have grown and the resources to meet these needs have declined, this team has pulled together with enthusiasm, applied for grants and partnered with non-traditional sources to continue to grow their programs and make huge impacts in Montgomery County.

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