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Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program 35th Anniversary Awardees

Vella Adkins of McKee, KY
Vella Adkins,
Adult Winner

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Vella Adkins, McKee, KY
When Vella Adkins was encouraged to grow a garden by her EFNEP instructor, Cathy Howell, she turned the seeds and seedlings donated by the Christian Appalachian Project and Chain of Life into food that her family could eat and preserve. The next year her skills improved and she grew more than her family could use. Rather than waste the surplus, Cathy encouraged Vella to take her vegetables to the local farmers market, where she sold enough to buy new school clothes for her children. The following year, Vella’s thumb turned even greener, and sales profits helped purchase a used van, overcoming a major barrier in rural Kentucky -- transportation. EFNEP not only helped establish healthier family eating habits, and a reduced likelihood of running out of food, but also helped her gain access to medical care, and provided extra income. While selling her vegetables at the farmers market, Vella developed confidence and enhanced her self-esteem, enabling her to obtain a job in a local factory.
Carol Ali Jenkins of Orleans Parish, LA
Carol Jenkins,
Adult Winner

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Carol Ali Jenkins, Louisiana State University Cooperative Extension Service, Orleans Parish, LA
In 1972, Carol Ali Jenkins was a homemaker with two young children, struggling to make ends meet. That year her life began to change with her family’s enrollment in EFNEP. Carol learned the basics: using coupons and cost-cutting EFNEP recipes, and learning that healthful foods were frequently cheaper than less healthful, packaged ones. Because the children were also EFNEP participants, their new knowledge helped the family begin to incorporate and enjoy vegetables in every meal. As an EFNEP graduate, Carol was asked if she’d like to become an EFNEP Nutrition Aide, and successfully completed the training. Now, 29 years later, she is a certified Nutrition Educator 2 in her home parish.
Tanya Martin of Indianapolis, IN Tanya Martin,
Adult Winner

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Tanya Martin, Indianapolis, IN
Tanya Martin, a single mother of six, had just moved from a shelter for battered women when she began her relationship with EFNEP. She enrolled in and successfully completed the program, later applying for and winning a job as an EFNEP paraprofessional. Because of her personal experiences, Tanya became a positive role model for the families she taught, helping them save money on food, try new recipes and improve eating habits. Still, Tanya felt, there was more she could do with her life and her EFNEP knowledge and experience. Enrolling in college courses, she eventually earned an A.A.S. in Behavior Sciences, a B.S. in Addictions Counseling, and an M.S. in Urban Ministry. Tanya attributes much of her personal success to her skills learned as an EFNEP educator – public speaking, listening, and tenacity. She continues to support EFNEP by referring families to the program.

Josephina Nieves of Lancaster, PA Josefina Nieves,
Adult Winner

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Josefina Nieves, Lancaster, PA
As a single mother of six, Josefina Nieves immediately found much-needed help for her family’s health and well-being when she was referred to EFNEP by the local school district 23 years ago. She did not let her lack of ability to write in either English or Spanish discourage her from learning to cook new and different meals; she memorized every recipe presented by her EFNEP educator. Her educator took her one step further, encouraging her to go to school to learn to speak and write in English. Once her confidence was bolstered by her newly learned language skills, Josefina began to venture further, getting a driver’s license and job, and eventually buying her own home! She is now married, and, thanks to the EFNEP program and her caring educator, has “graduated” from public assistance.
Chris Clark of Pensacola, FL
Chris Clark,
Youth Winner

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Chris Clark, Pensacola, FL
Ask 15 year-old Chris Clark about his 4-H experience, and he will quickly tell you he got his start in 4-H EFNEP 8 years ago in a small community club. He soon realized that EFNEP could take him places while he learned about things he loved; nutrition, food, helping others and giving service to his community were inspirational to this unique young man. His first State 4-H Congress instilled in him a strong desire to go all the way to National 4-H Congress. His dedication and enthusiasm has served as a role model to members of his local 4-H club, and brought him to his dream when he was selected as a delegate to National 4-H Congress in 2003. Chris credits his life successes to his EFNEP participation. "4-H EFNEP has provided the base for me to build my leadership skills, self-confidence, and learn about others ...[it] has prepared me to set goals and most importantly to achieve what I have set out to do."

John David Franz of Hidalgo, TX
John Franz,
Youth Winner

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John David Franz, Mayor, Hidalgo, TX
In 1973, John David Franz’s 7th-grade class was enrolled in EFNEP in Hidalgo, TX, near the Mexican border. Grandson of an EFNEP program aide, John showed an extraordinary interest in nutrition, so much so that his school teacher recommended that he be a youth representative on Information Day, when Congressman “Kika” de la Garza and other elected officials would be on hand to learn about EFNEP. After John’s presentation, Congressman de la Garza was so impressed with his poise and delivery that he vowed to have John serve in his Washington, DC, Congressional office as soon he became old enough to do so. Later John became a legislative aide for the Congressman, and told everyone how they had participated in Information Day for EFNEP. Today, he is a successful lawyer and Hidalgo’s mayor for the past 14 years. With all his success, he has never forgotten, nor hesitated to declare, how EFNEP helped not only his life, but brought great improvement to his grandmother’s life as well, giving her greater confidence and the courage to seek personal independence.
Debra Glenn of Lakeview, AL
Debra Glenn,
Youth Winner

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Debra Glenn, Lakeview, AL
Debra Glenn is a community activist who credits much of her success in life to the inspiration and educational instructions she gained from EFNEP. Resident of the Birmingham Housing Project, she attended 4-H EFNEP courses taught by retired Extension Educator Helen Wilson, opening doors to a lifetime of self-mastery and empowerment. An enthusiastic learner, Debra returned home from weekly lessons and prepared nutritious and tasty recipes brought from her classes. These experiences instilled in Debra the lifelong desire to help the less fortunate. Her successes with EFNEP also inspired her to further her education, obtaining a degree from the University of Alabama, Birmingham, and to take her determination and knowledge into the world of work as an Administrator with the Birmingham VA Medical Center. She continues her community involvement with efforts at Children’s Hospital, Prison Fellowship Ministries, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and other local organizations.

Clinton Miller of New York, NY
Clinton Miller,
Youth Winner

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Clinton Miller, New York, NY
Clinton Miller first participated in 4-H when he was 13, working in beach clean-ups, conducting environmental workshops and creating a video on lead poisoning prevention. His 4-H experiences helped shape his growing-up years, both in his family and community. He has been active in 4-H Youth Council, garnering a first prize in Public Presentation; he participated in career development workshops and trips, and served as a youth representative on the planning committee and speaking at the closing ceremony of the CYFAR National Conference. Last Spring, Clinton graduated from 4-H EFNEP. Due to his exemplary work, he was recommended as an educator for the Farmers Market Nutrition Education Program―the youngest ever hired, and one of the few males. Now a prospective university freshman, he is also being considered for a position in a youth development and abstinence program. Clinton is a true EFNEP success!
Wilhelmenia Jones of Chesapeake, VA
Wilhelmenia Jones, Paraprofessional Winner

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Wilhelmenia Jones, Virginia Cooperative Extension Service, Chesapeake, VA
Wilhelmenia Jones began her career in 1969 at the very beginning of EFNEP. For 35 years she has consistently displayed a genuine concern for the overall health and well-being of her youth and adult program participants. Her educational programs have resulted in improved health, increased self-esteem, and leadership development for her students. High energy and enthusiasm are an integral part of her teaching methods, bolstered by her own creativity in developing delivery methods well suited to children and young parents. Her success at forming partnerships with other community-serving agencies is largely because of her willingness and unflagging energy in bringing EFNEP practices to new or nontraditional audiences. Her unique ability to work well with all people contributes to her success in all aspects of EFNEP.
Ilanda McBeath of Chicago, IL
Ilanda McBeath, Paraprofessional Winner

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Ilanda McBeath, University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service, Chicago, IL
Ilanda McBeath was hired as an EFNEP Community Worker after spending 2 years as a 4-H volunteer. A resident of the Chicago Housing Authority Robert Taylor Homes, she recruited other residents into programs that helped them change eating habits and improve their overall health. In her 24 years with EFNEP, she has taught nutrition education to more than 30,000 youth and homemakers; organized and led 4-H youth in community events promoting nutrition awareness; helped launch the first WIC Farmers Market in Chicago and her community; expanded EFNEP to include more male and special-needs clients; participated in blood pressure screening of more than 5,000 EFNEP participants; and taught hypertension and diabetes awareness. She has received numerous state leveey Redding of Big Horn County, MT" width="150" height="100" align="top">
Shirley Redding, Paraprofessional Winner

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Shirley Redding, Montana State University Cooperative Extension Service, Big Horn County, MT
Creative strategies in delivering EFNEP are Shirley Redding’s strength, including commodity cook offs’ lessons turned into games with prizes and buffalo workshops. Crow and Northern Cheyenne participants relate well to the real-life examples and hands-on practices she has developed. The Director of the Crow Tribe Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations is an EFNEP graduate who credits Shirley’s classes for his job. She is a champion partnership establisher, team-teaching with the Indian Health Service’s diabetes educator and Crow Parenting Program teachers. Her giving nature is not confined to her clientele, but also includes efforts to reduce hunger via a community garden and food bank, which resulted in increased recognition of EFNEP within the state and an award by the Governor. Shirley radiates with passion for better eating on a tight budget, especially with commodity foods. One graduate summed it up by saying “You changed my life.”

Zoraida Velazquez of New Haven, CT
Zoraida Velazquez, Paraprofessional Winner

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Zoraida Velazquez – University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension, New Haven, CT
Zoraida Velazquez spent her 25-year career in New London and New Haven Counties, CT. She quickly established rapport with Hispanic clients, and connected both her clients and partnering agencies to other areas of extension programming as well. In partnership with a Hispanic Community Service Agency, she provided nutrition and food resource management education to Hispanic women making the transition from welfare to work as family day care providers. She also taught child nutrition and food safety for Hispanic adults to earn certification for careers in professional child care. In these two programs alone, more than 300 people have participated, many of whom graduated to work in day care settings or start their own day care businesses, improving their own lives and those of the children receiving professional and caring attention.
Barb Bennett of Spokane, WA
Barbara Bennet,
Volunteer Winner

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Barb Bennett, Spokane, WA
When Barb Bennett, Director of the Valley Food Bank, was approached with the idea of having nutrition classes at the food bank, she embraced the idea enthusiastically, providing the necessary support for developing the program. She took an active role, not only personally helping to introduce food bank recipients to recipe samples, but making the bold decision to make nutrition classes mandatory for those receiving the benefits. From these beginnings, Barb became a significant player in these classes by arranging for the needed food ingredients to be available for the 4 weekly nutrition classes and finding a donor to support program costs. This food bank is the first in Spokane to develop an experiential cooking class for their recipients. In the past 6 years, Barb’s involvement in the EFNEP program touched the lives and well-being of more than a thousand people.

Beth Cothran of Camden, SC
Beth Cothran,
Volunteer Winner

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Beth K. Cothran, Camden, SC
Beth Cothran, a 22-year veteran of the South Carolina Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, is the current Career Planning and Employment Specialist for that facility. As such, she identifies eligible South Carolinians with nutrition-related disabilities, and refers them to an appropriate educational program. For the past 6 years, she has referred more than 150 clients to the EFNEP program to learn how to understand and cope with symptoms resulting from their disabilities. Participants have dramatically changed lifestyles, with several receiving “Homemaker of the Year” awards. Beth reinforces the information from EFNEP with her clients. As chair of the EFNEP Advisory Committee, she meets with the Kershaw County Advisory board, expressing the concerns and accomplishments of EFNEP and helping to forge new partnerships within the community.
Fran Johnson of Bellport, NY
Fran Johnson,
Volunteer Winner

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Fran Johnson, Bellport, NY
Fran Johnson is a nurse at the Bellport Outreach Center, where EFNEP provides education to women in substance abuse recovery. A firm believer in how EFNEP can change lives, she has assisted an EFNEP paraprofessional in eight to ten sessions each for 36 groups, reaching over 400 participants. She coordinates the groups, recruits participants, orders food, observes classes, and encourages and motivates participants during and between classes. Described by the paraprofessional as a person willing to tackle any job, her support of and respect for these EFNEP participants has been a great source of strength and hope for these women who are struggling with large and difficult life changes. Fran believes in EFNEP and sees the changes it makes in lives.

Carmen Rodriquez of Bridgeport, CT
Carmen Rodriquez,
Volunteer Winner

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Carmen Rodriguez, Bridgeport, CT
Carmen M. Rodriguez is a long-time EFNEP supporter, taking part in EFNEP programming since the 1960’s, when, as Director of Social Services for the Head Start program in Milwaukee, WI, she incorporated EFNEP programming for healthy eating and promoted hands-on activities for the Head Start Families. Now Coordinator at the Waltersville Family Resource Center in Bridgeport, CT, Carmen has brought her strong EFNEP commitment to center participants. Families report positive lifestyle changes such as lower food costs; maintenance of healthy body weight; increased consumption of fruits, vegetables, fiber, and protein; and decreased use of fat, sugars, and salt.
Steven Garrett of Tacoma, WA
Steven Garrett,
Professional Winner

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Steven Garrett, Washington State University Cooperative Extension, Tacoma, WA
Steven Garrett’s 14-year EFNEP career has been marked by innovative project development that has had far-reaching impact to the entire Cooperative Extension System. He established the EFNEP Gleaning Project to help enrolled families glean foods and grains left after harvesting, which has contributed millions of pounds of otherwise wasted food to the local emergency food system. Taking his gleaning experience national, he made significant contributions to USDA’s gleaning program. Steven saw a cannery project, where large raw food donations are canned for food pantries, as the perfect venue for EFNEP volunteers. He developed the Growing With Plants curriculum, used nationally by 4-H EFNEP. His many contributions to the Extension System’s food security efforts have attracted national attention and acclaim.

Robin Orr of Urbana, IL
Robin Orr,
Professional Winner

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Robin D. Orr, University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service, Urbana, IL
Robin Orr’s exceptional creative and visionary leadership activities have helped shape the face of EFNEP through her participation in local and national EFNEP-related committees. She has trained EFNEP staff in multiple states, focusing on the importance and role of facilitative education. On her home turf, Robin is quick to encourage staff supervisors to develop their own program styles that best reach the ethnically and regionally diverse populations in Illinois. Her passion for EFNEP principles is evident in her individualized training methods and her use of innovative teaching materials. She provides cross training with WIC and Head Start staff and is a strong EFNEP proponent with legislators and stakeholders, using cost-benefit analysis to prove that every dollar invested in EFNEP saves $4.67 in health care costs in Illinois alone.
Susan Uthoff of Johnson County, IA
Susan Uthoff,
Professional Winner

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Susan Uthoff, Iowa State University Cooperative Extension Service, Johnson County, IA
Susan (Susie) Uthoff is a tenacious, determined champion for programming that helps low-income families improve their situation. Over the past 25 years, she has reached thousands of individuals and families, both through her direct teaching and her supervision of EFNEP in eastern Iowa. In spite of shrinking budgets and staff hours, she consistently maintains caseloads by cooperating with community partners, including classroom teachers, WIC, Madge Phillips Homeless Shelter, Aid to Women, and a substance recovery program. An early innovator of experiential learning, Susie has authored more than 300 issues of the county EFNEP newsletter, worked with assistants to develop materials for Somalian and other immigrant groups, and pursued and won grants to develop special educational materials. Believing strongly in experiential learning processes, she also encourages legislators to see for themselves the good this program is doing by accompanying EFNEP assistants as they make their home visits.

Karen Wilken of Fort Collins, CO
Karen Wilken,
Professional Winner

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Karen K. Wilken, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension Service, Fort Collins, CO
In her 22-year career as Colorado’s EFNEP coordinator, Karen Wilken is considered the “mother” of EFNEP, not just in her own state but in the entire Western Region. Her unquestionable integrity and the high regard in which supervisors, peers, and staff hold her earned for her Colorado State’s prestigious Distinguished Service Award. Her commitment to reaching less advantaged segments of society with nutrition and food-buying skills has promoted and provided improved health for thousands. Never content with the status quo, Karen has developed a curriculum that promotes critical thinking. She takes a personal interest in helping staff reach new career heights. She restructured Colorado’s EFNEP program from a nearly unsupported program to a highly vibrant, adaptable, and county-focused program with strong local support. Perhaps one of her greatest accomplishments is found in the more cohesive and formal venue for Western Region EFNEP coordinators that has strengthened EFNEP programs across all states.
Eligio "Kika de la Garza of Texas
Eligio de la Garza,
Campion Winner

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Eligio “Kika” de la Garza – Retired Congressman, Texas District 15
For 32 years, Congressman Kika de la Garza, in his many political roles, championed the value of EFNEP to constituents, peers, and the general public. Not satisfied with just talking about EFNEP, Congressman de la Garza attended many EFNEP events in his District, including an achievement event honoring 75 homemakers in 1973 that, in his own words, “touched his heart,” bringing home the many positive effects EFNEP makes on participants’ lives. He supported EFNEP funding through many fiscal crises, making public and personal pleas and offering up his own District’s program as proof of EFNEP’s long-term, positive, life-changing effects. Never one to back down from his promise of EFNEP support, he sang its praises in large gatherings and quiet Capitol corridors. “It’s the best federal program,” he often said. “Anything I can do for this program, I am going to do it.” For his entire distinguished 32-year political career, he was a vocal, emotional, and unwavering EFNEP supporter, a man of his word and a hero to us all.

Linda Melcher of Laramie, WY
Linda Melcher,
Champion Winner

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Linda Melcher, University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service, Laramie, WY
Linda Melcher’s creative, dynamic leadership extends far beyond Wyoming’s borders. The unique ideas and approaches she developed to create EFNEP and Cent$ible Nutrition programs are also a part of programs in several more states. Nationally recognized for the Cent$ible Nutrition videos, home study course, cookbook, and marketing package, she received a much-coveted award from the National Association of Extension Family and Consumer Science. Linda inspires those who work with her. As described by one of her outreach staff, she “stretches my talents, education, and creativity. She values her employees and strives to reduce the barriers in our jobs, and creates challenging, but fair, promotion opportunities.” As a single mother of three, Linda has learned through her own life experiences how even small changes can improve our lives―a lesson embedded in every EFNEP tenet.
Margaret Randall of Amherst, MA
Margaret Randall,
Champion Winner

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Margaret (Peg) Randall, University of Massachusetts Cooperative Extension Service, Amherst, MA
For 27 years, Peg Randall championed EFNEP in her work as Massachusetts’ EFNEP State Program Leader. Now in retirement, her support of and enthusiasm for this program continues. Peg, like many in this great educational system, is a perfect example of the “Once-in-Extension-always-in-Extension” mindset common to this career path. As a 4-H club volunteer for 10 years, 4-H agent, county home agent, and in leadership positions in Massachusetts Cooperative Extension, Peg personified the extension spirit as she mentored EFNEP staff and paraprofessionals through their career beginnings. Those who came under her nurturing and professionalism are proof of her important contributions to EFNEP, the Cooperative Extension System, and the health and well-being of untold numbers of EFNEP participants, past, present, and future. She possesses a commitment and appreciation of diversity and truly worked with the spirit of the clientele in mind.

Jan Scholl of University Park, PA
Jan Scholl, Champion Winner

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Jan Scholl, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
Twenty-four years have passed since Jan Scholl began her EFNEP career in Montana. Her first decision with EFNEP was whether or not to keep the program in Hill County, MT. Fortunately for Jan and EFNEP, her decision was “YES!” Commenting on this decision later, Jan said, “It was the most satisfying thing I did in my life.” In Pennsylvania, Jan helps EFNEP youth succeed in 4-H projects, fair exhibits, and contests, and involves them in public television broadcasts. Always inventive, she developed the “Portable Kitchen” brochure, helping Nutrition Education Assistants (NEAs) assemble “kitchens” that can be transported to sites with no cooking facilities. This year, Jan developed a food practices video that won a National Association of Communications Excellence award. The video and brochure are now used in many state EFNEP programs, and in food demonstration training that Jan provides to new NEAs.


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