LITTLE ROCK — Improving the quality of life within the boundaries of the Southwest Arkansas Regional Intermodal Authority (SWARIA) is one of the goals of the Cooperative Extension Service. This year, the member Faculty and staff at the Cooperative Extension Service found innovative ways to reach Arkansans throughout the COVID-19 pandemic that has dominated much of 2020 — from creating virtual learning opportunities to social media outreach to technology use, including a project to collect precision farm data that allow farmers to better track their progress.
OUTSTANDING IN THEIR FIELD — Jason Davis, extension pesticide application technology specialist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, speaks at the 2019 Extension Excellence Awards in Little Rock. This year’s event was held online. (Division of Agriculture photo.)
The Cooperative Extension Service, part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, recognized the efforts and excellence of employees at the state and county levels during the service’s annual employee conference on December 7th. This year’s conference was held virtually, in observance of pandemic precautions.
Bob Scott, director of the Cooperative Extension Service, commended this year’s winners, who were nominated and selected by their peers.
“This year we saw innovative approaches by individual employees and team efforts led by faculty and staff at the Cooperative Extension Service,” Scott said. “All of them have found innovative ways to serve Arkansans through programs and services during a year or unprecedented challenges.”
Mary Poling, coordinator of interactive communications in information technology, was named extension’s 2020 Employee of the Year. Poling played a pivotal role in helping employees take programs and presentations online through the Zoom platform.
“Mary’s can-do attitude, attention to detail, and knowledge of the virtual world of training and meetings exemplifies excellence within extension,” Scott said. “With all the challenges faced this past year, Mary has been key to our successful navigation through this different world of extension education.”
This year’s winners include the following from with the SWARIA counties:
Early Career Award – County Extension Faculty: Terrell Davis, Pike County, Staff Chair
County Team Award – At Home with UAEX. Family and consumer science agents from several counties developed content for a new virtual learning project, At Home with UAEX. The project includes webpages on extension’s website, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and newsletters in electronic and print formats. Agents include Rachel Chaney, Yell County; Katie Cullum, White County; Kristal Draper, Hot Spring County; Carla Due, Miller County; Heather Jackson, Pike County; Amy Monk, Montgomery County; JoAnn Vann, Clark County; and Shea Wilson, Prairie County.
Five extension employees received scholarship awards to assist them in furthering their education and professional skills. From the SWARIA area:
JoAnn Vann, County Extension Agent – Family & Consumer Sciences, Clark County (Ouachita District). She is attending the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and working towards a Master of Science degree in Agriculture and Extension Education.