There were gifts signifying agriculture and North Carolina Cooperative Extension’s influence across the state: bottles of wine and honey, jams and jellies, pickles and candies, a beautifully handmade Cherokee basket and more, all given by members of Extension’s State Advisory Council (SAC) in recognition of retiring state Extension director Dr. Joe Zublena’s service and dedication.
Among the other gifts bestowed at the council’s May meeting in Raleigh was a replica of Grant Wood’s iconic American Gothic painting featuring the faces of Zublena and his wife, Lisé. Council members wrote notes of congratulations and appreciation on the back of the framed portrait.
SAC members not only brought gifts for Zublena, they also announced the establishment of an award in the retiring director’s honor. State Advisory Council Chair Brenda Gilbert said the Joe Zublena Advisory Council Award is designed to encourage exemplary leadership at the local level. For each of the next five years, 2016 to 2020, $500 will be awarded to a local advisory council that demonstrates such leadership.
Gilbert praised Zublena’s support of the council and its members, noting that he “made sure that we were well-prepared for our advocacy roles. …There was always time for us, and he promptly answered phone calls or email and attended and participated in all of our meetings.
“And always, he made us feel that our work was valued and important,” she said.
Zublena has served at NC State since 1988. For the past five years, he has served as director of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service at N.C. State University and associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He plans to step down effective July 1.