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Pursuing excellence: Staff named Extension’s best

Lesa Peterson receiving an award from Extension Director Shelly Nickols-Richardson

URBANA, Ill. – University of Illinois Extension serves as a statewide network with a presence in every Illinois county, linking communities, businesses, and the public to the intensive research and resources of the university and its partners.

Extension’s 650 staff members live in the communities they serve, delivering holistic, integrated approaches to tackle complex local problems important to Illinois residents.

The organization recently honored outstanding individuals whose efforts demonstrate significant public value and impact to staff, volunteers, participants, and partners.


Individual Excellence Award

Lisa Peterson provides leadership to Extension’s food preservation and certified food manager programs, in addition to her work as nutrition and wellness educator for Christian, Jersey, Macoupin, and Montgomery counties. She helped revitalize the nutrition curriculum, fact sheets, and social presence, leading to improved food safety for Illinois residents.

Her pass rate as an instructor the certified food protection manager certification exam nears 100%. Peterson spent 18 months with added supervisory responsibilities, covering a leadership vacancy in her 4-county unit.

“There has not been one time when Lisa has not tackled the duties of the last 18 months without a smile on her face,” says Janice McCoy, assistant director. “Lisa’s leadership skills include the ability to assess and diagnose issues quickly, the ability to effectively contribute to team functioning, directly communicate issues in a considerate manner, and contribute to the overall good of the organization.”

Peterson is committed to reaching underserved residents, including those in the 18 to 34 age range. She has transitioned content to online, including a new Instagram account, Dash of Wellness.

She is multi-year winner of national and state awards by the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences since beginning her Extension career in 2014. She currently serves on the national executive board for NEAFCS.


Individual Excellence Award

Tiffany Macke provides education for local governments, businesses, and community organizations in Clark, Crawford, and Edgar counties. Her work as community and economic development educator elevates public value, helping organizations and individuals build capacity to reach their fullest potential.

Macke’s signature program is her i-DREAM | iCREATE program. The program helps create a workforce of happy, successful people, equipped with the tools that connect their passion, interests, and skills. The program works together to awaken goal setting and entrepreneurial thinking.

In 2017, Macke worked with the Marshall Chamber of Commerce and a community group, 100 Women Who Care, to create a new model of sustainable funding. During the group’s first year, it provided more than $16,000 back to the community.

Macke began her career in 2006 and continues successfully engage partners and volunteers. The National Road Trail System is working to create a multi-use trail system to foster health and wellness, tourism, and economic development in Clark County.

“Macke’s excitement and vision of the trail keeps our team engaged and focused on our goals for our community,” says Jim Bolin, National Road Trail System.

The awards were presented during the Illinois Extension Annual Conference held in November in Urbana.

PHOTO: Lisa Peterson, right, was honored by University of Illinois Extension for her excellence as a nutrition and wellness educator in central Illinois. The award was presented by Extension Director Shelly Nickols-Richardson at the group's annual conference held in November in Urbana.

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.

WRITER: Judy Mae Bingman, Extension Communications Advisor and Web Content Strategist
SOURCE: Elisha Hughes, Extension Workforce Professional and Training Development Associate