UConn Extension and collaborators were recently recognized with the 2022 Top Honors in Extension Excellence and Diversity. The University’s premier outreach organization was part of a regional team honored with the Inaugural National Excellence in Extension Team Award by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), and Cooperative Extension. USDA-NIFA, APLU, and Cooperative Extension have sponsored the awards since 1991.
“Congratulations to the outstanding Extension professionals who are honored on today,” says Beverly Durgan, chair, Extension Committee on Organization and Policy and dean of extension at the University of Minnesota. “These leaders are making a difference by connecting community needs and university resources to address critical issues across the nation.”
The inaugural award was given for UConn Extension’s visionary leadership and diversity in educational programming. Specifically, this award recognizes excellence and leadership of an Extension team in performing the work of Extension research, technical assistance, and outreach education. UConn Extension was part of an agricultural experiment station multistate research group that led a program entitled “Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program’s (EFNEP) Related Research, Program Evaluation, and Outreach.” The team works to strengthen the evidence base of EFNEP, Extension’s flagship nutrition education program.
The group is developing and testing critical and culturally relevant evaluation tools to assess EFNEP’s program effectiveness. Integrating the land-grant mission of Extension, research, and education, the team includes 23 university researchers, practitioners, and graduate students and represents 16 land-grant institutions. Membership reflects the diversity of expertise needed to address research needs including nutrition, physical activity, education, economics, food safety, public health, sociology, and statistics. The group engages 1862 and 1890 institutions in vital community based participatory research.
“EFNEP supports families across the country and strives to empower participants to improve their health now and in the future,” says Mike O’Neill, associate dean of UConn Extension. “We’re grateful to USDA-NIFA, APLU, and Cooperative Extension for recognizing this team’s work and our commitment to enhance health and promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice through EFNEP.”
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