Illinois Extension celebrates local outstanding programs, staff

Written by

Judy Mae Bingman (edited by Shannon Range for local Extension staff)

URBANA, Ill. – Across the state, local University of Illinois Extension staff members help families, businesses, and communities identify local issues and potential solutions to those issues. Extension professionals use research-based knowledge and translate that knowledge into actions and strategies that are understandable, actionable, and locally relevant.

Several staff were recently honored at the organization’s Annual Conference held virtually in November.

Extension’s foundation is centered on its member living in the communities they serve so they can best understand local issues, local cultures, and community interests. This strong local tie has allowed Extension staff to build trusted relationships with the people they serve.

Extension was established with the passing of the Smith Lever Act in 1914 to extend the knowledge of the university so that all people may have the opportunity to enrich their lives regardless of their ability to attend formal higher education. Popular programs of Illinois Extension include 4-H, Master Gardeners, Master Naturalists, Money Mentors, Local Government Education, Pesticide Education Program, and SNAP-Education.

The Extension Worker’s Creed, written in 1922 by W.A. Lloyd, speaks to the attitude and spirit of Extension staff: “I believe in people and their hopes, their aspirations, and their faith; in their right to make their own plans and arrive at their own decisions; in their ability and power to enlarge their lives and plan for the happiness of those they love.”

A list of the recent award-winning staff and programs that best embody the goals of Illinois Extension include:

Excellence in Diversity AwardNancy Kuhajda, program coordinator for the Will County Master Gardener, Master Naturalist, and Master Composter programs.

Kuhajda coordinates the Go Green Garden Club, a partnership with four local agencies that serve the population of adults with disabilities. Participants learned basic gardening skills which they took home, increasing their intake of fresh garden vegetables.

Interdisciplinary Unit Team in Excellence AwardJamita Brown, 4-H youth development educator; and Victoria Klimkiewicz, SNAP-Ed community worker; both serving Grundy, Kankakee, and Wil counties.

Brown and Klimkiewicz provided programming to underserved families in Joliet. In cooperation with the G.W. Buck Boys and Girls Club, youth improved their health, increasing exercise and choosing healthy foods with the Healthy Habits & Healthy Kids program.

10-Year Service Awards

  • Holly Froning

SOURCE: Amanda Taylor, Assistant Director, Extension Field Operations; and Donna Bosch, Office Administrator
WRITER: Judy Mae Bingman, Extension Marketing and Communication Manager

ABOUT EXTENSION: Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities.