Virginia Cooperative Extension honored with nine awards in 2016; service to community remains paramount

VCE programs showcase their services at annual yearend breakfast VCE programs showcase their services at annual yearend breakfast

The Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) of Arlington and Alexandria has much to celebrate this year, having garnered a total of nine local, state, and national awards recognizing its programs, staff, and volunteers.

Reggie Morris, extension agent, 4-H Youth Development, City of Alexandria, shared the list of honors with 55 invited guests -- including a number of elected government officials and/or their representatives -- at VCE’s annual showcase breakfast.

Jennifer Abel, extension agent, Family and Consumer Sciences, Arlington County, was awarded the Margaret R. Svoboda Award for Excellence in Extension Education by Virginia Cooperative Extension; the Green Patriot (Individual Award) by George Mason University; and the Distinguished Service Award of the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences.

Jointly, Abel and Morris received the Southern Region Diversity Multicultural (Team) Award from Epsilon Sigma Phi, a national professional organization for Cooperative Extension faculty.

Morris and Caitlin Verdu, Arlington 4-H extension agent, 4-H Youth Development, were recognized with the Virginia 4-H Foundation Innovative Programming Award for developing a Master 4-H volunteer program.

Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia garnered the Green Patriot (Organization) Award by George Mason University, plus the Green Patriot People’s Choice Award. Judy Funderburk received the Bill Thomas Outstanding Park Service Volunteer Award from the Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation.

Two awards went to the Energy Masters program managed by Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment and VCE: the Virginia Governor’s Housing Conference Award in the category of Best Affordable Housing Energy Conservation Effort and a third place Virginia Energy Efficiency Leadership Award from the Virginia Energy Efficiency Council in the Low Income category.

“While 2016 has been an especially rich year for acknowledgement of our efforts,” Morris said, “the most important thing for all of us at VCE is having a positive impact on the communities we serve.”

This past year 887 volunteers contributed 32,746 volunteer hours, equating to a dollar value of $854,340. Volunteers led 1,441 public education programs providing more than 38,209 people with valuable and practical information to help improve their lives.

VCE launched a number of new activities in 2016:

  • 4-H Outdoor Explorers clubs were started at three elementary schools
  • A new regional agent provided increased services to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) beneficiaries
  • Food fermentation was added to the already popular Home Food Preservation series
  • 4-H Youth Leadership Academy engaged at-risk teens in Courts Services programs
  • 4-H Junior Master Gardener program was piloted at two elementary schools

In addition, VCE was awarded a two-year Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF) grant to provide financial education to low-income residents.

At the event, VCE program volunteers were available to explain the work of their respective programs to attendees. Breakfast was provided by Master Food volunteers.

For more information about Virginia Cooperative Extension programs in the National Capital Region, or how to volunteer, contact Jennifer Abel by email or at (703) 228-6407.

Posted December 08, 2016