Two CALS Extension faculty honored for their programs

Two College of Agriculture and Life Science faculty members were among nine faculty and professionals from N.C. State University recently inducted into the university’s Academy of Outstanding Faculty Engaged in Extension.

Dr. M. Cassandra Wiggins, Extension specialist in the Department of 4-H Youth Development and Family & Consumer Sciences, and Dr. Richard McLaughlin, professor and Extension specialist in the Department of Soil Science, also received an Outstanding Extension Service Award at the Ninth Annual Extension, Engagement, and Economic Development “Celebrating the Engaged University” awards ceremony.

The ceremony was held April 18 at the McKimmon Center for Extension and Continuing Education. The evening featured award presentations and the induction of the newest members of the academy.

Wiggins has been instrumental in protecting the health of children, their homes and environment through the Children’s Environmental Health Interdisciplinary Program, established in 2006. Since 2009, she has served as N.C. Cooperative Extension’s state program leader for the N.C. Healthy Homes Partnership. Through this partnership between U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Institute for Food and Agriculture, state land-grant universities and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Wiggins brought in funding for education to address housing deficiencies and environmental health risks associated with childhood diseases and injuries.

Sandy Wiggins award photo
Sandy Wiggins, center, receives her award. With her are Dr. Jim Zuiches, vice chancellor for Extension, Engagement, and Economic Development; Margery Kearney; Dr. Carolyn Dunn, program leader for family & consumer sciences; and Dr. Tom Stafford, vice chancellor for student affairs.

As a cornerstone of this effort, Wiggins helped establish the N.C. Healthy Homes Training Center (NCHHTC) at N.C. State University, in partnership with the Advanced Energy Private Research Consortium and the National Healthy Homes Training Center. NCHHTC offers the Essential Healthy Homes Practitioners Course and administers the credentialing exam from the National Environmental Health Association for Healthy Homes Specialists.

As one of four southeastern U.S. centers, NCHHTC serves North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. Wiggins serves as co-director, trainer and received the Healthy Homes Specialist Credential in 2008. In support of her work in home environmental health, Wiggins has received more than $1.8 million in external grants.

For the Healthy Homes Training Center, Wiggins conducted seven Essential Healthy Homes Practitioners courses in 2008-09 for 165 participants, 120 of whom completed the course and 108 passed the National Environmental Health Association’s exam.

Wiggins’ programs regarding asthma and environmental health issues in schools have reached 85 percent of North Carolina’s school districts. Those participating have included principals and vice principals, coaches, school maintenance personnel, custodial staff and local health department personnel.

More information about the N.C. Healthy Homes Training Center can be found at the website:

Since 1999, McLaughlin has been involved in research to improve sediment and erosion control on construction sites, a major source of sediment and turbidity in North Carolina’s streams and lakes focusing on simple, inexpensive methods known as “passive treatment systems.”

Rich McLaughlin award photo
Dr. Rich McLaughlin, center, receives his award from Dr. Jim Zuiches and Dr. Tom Stafford.

McLaughlin developed a research and training facility at N.C. State’s Lake Wheeler Field Laboratory where engineers, designers, contractors, and government regulators and inspectors can learn about and practice installing these “passive treatment systems.” Since 2005,McLaughlin’s group has collaborated with colleagues in Biological and Agricultural Engineering to train more than 7,000 N.C. Department of Transportation employees, contractors, designers, and engineers at the facility and elsewhere around the state. As a result, DOT reports that its water quality violations and fines have declined dramatically.

McLaughlin’s practices have been recognized in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations. In 2008, the EPA released a draft Effluent Limit Guideline standard regarding control of stormwater discharged from construction sites. The draft standard included three options, but after visiting the Sediment and Erosion Control Research and Education Facility and reviewing
McLaughlin’s research, the EPA officials added a fourth option — passive treatment systems — as the technology of choice to achieve turbidity reduction. McLaughlin’s work is extensively cited in the EPA final rule, and his techniques will be used throughout the country to improve runoff from construction sites.

McLaughlin has incorporated principles of the training into a part of a team-taught undergraduate course, The Role of Soils in Environmental Management (SSC 361), which covers septic systems, land application of wastes, as well as erosion, sediment and turbidity control. As a member of the Technical Advisory Committee for the N.C. Sedimentation Control Commission, McLaughlin has helped make significant changes to the state practices manual, including new technology practices developed at the Sediment and Erosion Control Research and Education Facility.
More information on McLaughlin’s program is available at the website:

-N. Hampton

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