On Aug. 25, UNH Cooperative Extension staff gathered for its yearly picnic, held this year at Ellacoya State Park on Lake Winnipesaukee. More than 100 staff and retirees attended the event, which included recognition of several staff and the presentation of the Maynard and Audrey Heckel award.
Laurie Field was the recipient of the Performance Beyond Expectations award. Field is a part-time employee who serves Sullivan County youth, even though she works another full-time job. She is level-headed, focused and creative at the same time, working collaboratively with Gail Kennedy and Robin Luther to expand 4-H's reach in Sullivan County.
Field has also become the primary driver of the Sullivan County 4-H Facebook page, significantly increasing the number of friends, likes, and followers. She has also developed Canstruction, a brand new event that combines engineering and community service and was able to integrate it into the existing 4-H culture/framework at County Activities Day, using it to recruit new volunteers from the tech sector.
Mary Davis received the Program of Distinction award for leading the Animal Science work team, comprised of Michelle Bersaw-Robblee, Andrea Sawyer, and Jolee Chase. The teamcontinues to design, modify, and promote high-quality programs for the youth and families of New Hampshire. Over the past two years, it has grown the traditional sheep and goat auction into an entire livestock auction. Additionally, expansion of the auction has created an opportunity to raise awareness of New Hampshire 4-H while increasing the range of potential industry partners for both 4-H and Extension programs.
An example illustrating the expanded scope is the recent Family Farm Day. This event created a new partnership with Mill Creek Dairy, a New Hampshire farm dedicated to engaging veterans in their operation.
Emily Lord was the recipient of the Innovation Award. Lord led a small team (Emma Tutein and Haley Andreozzi) to conceive, shoot, and post a series of Facebook Live videos that are helping to bring messages of sound land stewardship to new audiences. Going live on video is an intimidating educational task, but it was embraced with a spirit of fun and innovation.
Since spring, three Facebook Live videos were created on the subject of invasive plants, and with each, improvements were made. The live videos have been some of the most popular content on the Stewardship Network: New England Facebook page. They continue to drive interest and generate likes and comments after the Live session is over. The three Live videos were created to support stewardship action and are helping making that a success.
Janell George received the Outstanding Contribution and Support award. George is known as “the glue that holds the Hillsborough County office together.” She has served at the helm as senior administrative assistant for more than 10 of her 17 years with Extension.
During those 10-plus years, she has seen five support staff come and go. Each time, and most often as the only administrative support, she has kept as many as 10 field staff “happy,” all while mult-tasking and doing " everything with a smile.” She’s also a team player and pretty much knows every 4-H youth and volunteer affiliated with the office.
According to staff, without her unwavering commitment "the Hillsborough County 4-H program would not be the program it is today. Janell keeps in touch and works with the leaders and members of the county and the support staff in the state..." Another staff member says: “This is an ‘it's about time award,’” and "She is personable, accessible and helpful, a good ambassador.”
Casey Hancock, this year’s recipient of the Academic Engagement award, worked with the UNH Student Planning Organization to conduct an assessment of Somersworth’s downtown assets and opportunities for improvement. The effort was in collaboration with Dr. Mary Friedman, chair of UNH's Community and Environmental Planning program within the Department of Natural Resources, and took a year to complete.
In May, they compiled a final report outlining the strengths of Somersworth's downtown, as well as opportunities for improvement. The findings were presented at the Undergraduate Research Conference and also presented to the Somersworth City Council.
Hancock also has been working with Dr. Catherine Ashcraft to examine public participation in food systems decision making and how this impacts food policy outcomes. She put her knowledge into practice in support of a USDA-AFRI proposal led by Dr. John Halstead, in which she conducted focus groups of local growers to better understand their challenges and what market opportunities there could be for locally-grown produce.
Related to this work, she recently won the graduate research grant from the American Association of Geographers. Although this work is part of her graduate studies, it has become integrated into her professional role on the Community and Economic Development Program Team.
Dot Perkins received the Early Response award, an award that recognizes an individual or team that has developed an educational process, collaboration, or tool in response to a critical or emerging issue.
This story begins with a combination of low milk prices and a severe drought that created severe financial hardships for many New Hampshire dairy farms. Some farms were harvesting as little as one-third of their normal crop yields, yet they didn't have the money to purchase feed to make up for the deficit. Farmers in Merrimack County approached Perkins for help.
For the next eight months, she advocated for the dairy community, holding listening sessions and testifying before legislators on the nature and extent of the crisis, as well as the impact on the state's economy if these farms were no longer operable. Thanks to her work, the legislature voted to spend $2 million to provide drought relief.
Once the legislature funded the dairy drought relief program, farmers had little time to apply; the final bill stipulated an application window of just 30 days. She coordinated the effort, working to notify all dairy farms about how to get help with their applications. Extension helped nearly 50 farms with their applications; Perkins worked with more than half of them herself. In June, farmers finally received checks that were able to help keep them in business.
Nada Haddad is this year’s recipient of the Maynard and Audrey Heckel Extension Educator Fellowship. This honor is given to an Extension educator for exemplary program accomplishments achieved through innovative and creative approaches in at least one of the following areas:
• Involvement of University faculty beyond traditional disciplines in meeting the educational needs of New Hampshire residents
• Development and involvement of strong local leadership in support of Extension programs
• Assisting and supporting low income families
Haddad will give a formal presentation on her work at the October meeting of the UNH Cooperative Extension State Advisory Council.