Colorado State Cooperative Extension Employees Honored by Epsilon Sigma Phi

Outstanding employees of the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension Service Agency recently were honored for their work by the Colorado chapter of Epsilon Sigma Phi, an organization of extension professionals.

Early Career Service Award

The Early Career Service Award, which recognizes exceptional contributions to the organization and is presented to people with less than 10 years of service, was presented to Andrew Seidl, a Colorado State associate professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and an extension specialist.  Since joining Cooperative Extension and Colorado State in 1997, Seidl has consistently and successfully provided his leadership to identify and communicate pressing public policy issues. From Farm Bill programming to agricultural land preservation and growth issues to natural resource-based economic development, Seidl has provided his analysis in a clear and objective manner. He has delivered more than 250 professional presentations across the United States and in 10 countries while here at Colorado State. He is considered by his peers to be a rising star in public policy and outreach in the United States, and the breadth and depth of his work illustrate his awareness of important issues and his desire to inform and educate.

Mid Career Service Award

The Mid Career Service award is given by Epsilon Sigma Phi to people who serve exceptionally for 10 to 20 years. The award recognizes the continuing leadership and excellence in program planning, delivery and evaluation. This year’s recipient of the Mid Career was Dan Fernandez, president of the Colorado Zeta Chapter of Epsilon Sigma Phi. Fernandez works for the Dolores County Cooperative Extension office. Since 1991, Fernandez has submitted 113 grants and has successfully received funding for 91 of them. These grants total more than $2.5 million in direct funding with a current value of more than $6 million. Fernandez’s nominators described him as "unique, unconventional and imaginative."

Distinguished Service Award

The Distinguished Service Award is given each year to an Extension professional who has shown continuing leadership and excellence in planning, delivery and evaluation of Extension programs for more than 20 years. This year, the honor went to Mary Ellen Fleming, an area extension agent in the San Luis Valley. During her 24-year career with Cooperative Extension, Fleming has been committed to reaching a diverse audience on issues such as nutrition, parenting, financial management and health. She serves as the Chair of the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Science’s national conference which will be held in Denver next month. Fleming has done great work in her time with the extension service. Over the past five years, Mary Ellen has worked to bring in $120,000 in federal grant money to provide daily nutrition education at the Boys and Girls Clubs of the San Luis Valley. She also has worked with monolingual Spanish speakers to provide nutrition and parenting education; coordinated the Healthy Habits group to provide nutrition information within the San Luis Valley; and implemented the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education in Moffat, Routt and Rio Blanco counties.

Visionary Leadership Award

The Visionary Leadership Award recognizes a professional who shows creative solutions to problems. This year, Epsilon Sigma Phi presented the Visionary Leadership Award to Ann Hall. As a 4-H youth development professional in El Paso County since 1991, Hall is well known for accomplishing tasks in almost no time at all. Her nominators praise her ideas for future programs and creative solutions. Her visions of an after-school program for El Paso County youth became a reality in 1995 with a $1 million grant for a pilot program with the Fort Carson Army Base. The program was such a success that, in 2002, the Army mandated the program be offered at all 128 army installations worldwide. She is now envisioning an after-school program using 4-H ideals, curriculum and life skills that can be translated into various languages and dialects so that countries around the world may benefit from the positive impacts of the 4-H program. Hall is an enthusiastic, hard working and creative 4-H extension agent, and her efforts have resulted in making programs more user-friendly for participants.

Diversity Award

The Diversity Award is presented to people who are prime examples of Cooperative Extension’s continued efforts to serve all citizens within the state and to those who have made significant efforts to engage people from diverse backgrounds. This year’s recipient of the Diversity Award is Ann Zander, a Boulder County family and consumer science agent. Among other accomplishments, Zander has helped build a program that uses gardening as a teaching tool with preschoolers. The program developed three gardens for Boulder Head Start, a program with a 97 percent Latino population. She has spent years working to build the Trabajando Unidos program in Boulder County, which works to meet the needs of the Latino and Latina population in southeast Boulder County.

Administrative Leadership Award

Noteworthy administrative performance during 10 or more years of program or departmental leadership at the county, regional or state level is recognized through the Administrative Leadership Award, which this year went to Judy Barth, director of operations for Colorado State University Cooperative Extension. Barth has proved she is willing to tackle tough assignments and is a willing, competent and successful administrative leader. She worked with 4-Hers for the first 15 years of her career, helping to develop the next generation of extension professionals. As the human resources coordinator for Colorado State Cooperative Extension, she has helped foster a hiring environment that is consistent and equitable to all applicants. Judy’s role as top legal liaison with the General Counsel’s Office, her knowledge of the legal process and her ability to handle all issues effectively and efficiently makes her an invaluable resource to extension agents.

Meritorious Support Awards

Meritorious Support Awards are given each year to three outstanding support staff that makes exceptional contributions to program success. This year’s recipients are Vickie Nester, Amy Solken and Jackie Goodnow.

Vickie Nester, an administrative assistant in the Cheyenne County Cooperative Extension Office, has been an incredible help over the past year after county Extension agent Tim Burton was deployed in fall of 2004 to Iraq. Nester, the only other employee in the office other than Burton, took on running the office solely by herself. She has kept a positive attitude while on extra duties such as attending all 4-H meetings, serving as the main contact for farm safety trainings and preparing for the county fair and rodeo.

Amy Solken has many other duties in the Boulder County Extension Office. Solken updates the Web calendar, tabulates and compiles most program evaluations, works with the volunteer program and handles all of the office’s participant sign-ups for programs. She also coordinates the community garden plots each year. Solken does all this while professionally greeting clientele and handling phone calls.

Jackie Goodnow has been the administrative assistant in the Moffat County Cooperative Extension Office for 16 years. She not only manages the office’s finances and supervises fellow county staff; she provides strong support as well for the 4-H program. Goodnow has a passion for 4-H programs and does what ever it takes for Moffat County youth to have a great experience with each program. Without a Moffat County 4-H agent for almost 18 months, Goodnow has provided the necessary leadership and many hours of overtime to keep the program running smoothly.

Team Award

The final Epsilon Sigma Team Award recognizes exceptionally effective collaborations within the Extension service. The Team Award went to the Colorado 4-H Impact Study. Members of this team are Jeff Goodwin, director of Colorado 4-H; Ellen Butler, 4-H program assistant; Jan Carroll, 4-H specialist; and Melissa Oliver, 4-H events coordinator. This team acquired hard data to demonstrated to both citizens and politicians the value and continued relevance of the 100-year-old 4-H youth development program. The study explored the relationship between how Colorado youth spend their time outside of school. Also, how these youth spend that time molds their educational and emotional development, as well as the development of their social skills.

Friends of Extension:

It takes teamwork and partnerships from community members and organizations to carry forth the mission of sharing the innovative research and knowledge of Colorado State. Cooperative Extension is dependent on the help of others to make a difference in every corner of Colorado. This year’s Friends of Extension awards were presented to Marsha Amick, a small horse and sheep rancher from Castle Rock; Mike Spearman, a rancher in the San Luis Valley; and Jane Wustrow of the Sangre de Cristo Resource Conservation and Development Council.