UACES Facebook Extension Service honors excellence, innovation among peers
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Extension Service honors excellence, innovation among peers

By Tracy Courage
U of A System Division of Agriculture 
Dec. 2, 2019 

Fast Facts:

  • Addie Wilson, Family and Consumer Sciences program associate, named Employee of the Year
  • Extension agents, administrators and associates across the state honored for innovative work 

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LITTLE ROCK — Faculty and staff at the Cooperative Extension Service have improved techniques for animal and forage management, provided speedy and accurate plant diagnoses, and helped young ranchers succeed in their ranching operations.  


What they all have in common is their innovative approaches to fulfilling Extension’s mission of connecting research to best practices. 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 faculty and staff conference on Dec. 2 at the state office in Little Rock.


Rick Cartwright, extension director, commended this year’s winners, who were nominated and selected by a committee of their peers.

“We have to tackle challenges and opportunities in a way that is very vibrant, very visible and very technological in the 21st century,” Cartwright said. This year’s winners, he said, have done just that.

This year’s winners include the following:

Early Career Award - Classified Employee: Sandra Kirk, Hempstead County. Sandra received two nominations for outstanding work with staff. Master Gardener Darla Irby said, “Sandra is the perfect example of service with a smile. She is always willing to go above and beyond on any task she is given. We are so fortunate to have her.”

Early Career Award - County Extension Faculty: Olivia Foster, Carroll County Cooperative Extension staff chair. Foster has made an economic impact in the county by demonstrating techniques for better animal and forage management. Her Young Cattlemen’s Series had enough participants to fill the class for the next two years. In 4-H, more than 130 youth participated in the Junior Livestock Clinic. Foster also secured funding from the Quorum Court for a 4-H program assistant.

Early Career Award - State Extension Faculty: Amanda McWhirt, horticulture. McWhirt’s modern approach to outreach has improved the visibility of Extension. Her Episode 1 video of Blackberry School had received nearly 20,000 views in early October. She has demonstration projects at several stations including Hope, Kibler and Clarksville. She was recently received the 2019 Young Minds Award for best presentation from the International Society for Horticultural Science in Zurich, Switzerland.

Early Career Award - Program Technician/Associate: Keiddy Urrea, who works in the Plant Health Clinic, uses her molecular diagnostic skills to make accurate plant health diagnoses for Extension agents and clientele who depend on the speed and accuracy of diagnosis and recommendations. She also has translated newsletter articles into Spanish for Spanish-speaking clientele and presented at Plant Health Clinic events, summer classes, field days and Master Gardener events.

Early Career Award - Project/Program Administrator: Jan Sampson, Office of Chief Operating Officer. Sampson is the point of contact for contract signatures and legal reviews. In a 12-month period, she processed more than 273 contracts. Her coworkers say she is tenacious in tracking down issues and resolving problems.

Employee of the Year – Addie Wilson, Family and Consumer Science. Since joining the state office as a program associate in December 2018. Addie has demonstrated leadership in grant management, agent technical assistance and training and program evaluation. She manages seven major programs: Extension Get Fit, Walk Across Arkansas, How to Talk to Your Doctor, Powerful Tools for Caregivers, Yoga for Kids, Chronic Pain Management Grant, and High Obesity.

In the past year, Wilson has contributed to strategic planning, simplified and improved evaluation reports, and improved programs that are not more widely adopted by agents and implemented. She has a passion for reaching underserved audiences, and her efforts have led to positive change in the lives of people served.

County Team Award – The Southwest Arkansas Cattlemen’s College Team receives this year’s County Team Award, which recognizes the county or counties whose staff best demonstrates a consistent and cohesive team approach to programs and county office operations within or across county boundaries. The Cattlemen’s College gives young and beginning ranchers the tools they need to be successful in their ranching operation. Each agent had a teaching role in this series.

Recipients include Sherry Beaty-Sullivan (Polk County), Jennifer Caraway (Miller County), Terrell Davis (Pike County), Rex Herring (Sevier County), Samantha Kroll Howard County), Darren Neal (Nevada County), Amy Simpson (Clark) and Stacey Stone (Hempstead County).

State Team Award – Arkansas Discovery Farms Project Team. This team manages 12 Discovery Farms across the state. Their work comes at a time when farming is under increasing pressure to manage nutrients in an environmentally sustainable manner. Information obtained by the Arkansas Discovery Farm program is of value to national efforts to assess nutrient and sediment load reduction efficiencies of various conservation practices in a scientifically sound manner.

The team has disseminated information from the farms through nine peer-reviewed journals, 25 conference proceedings, nine extension fact sheets and 15 articles and videos, and  numerous presentations and farm/field tours. Recipients include Mike Daniels, Amanda Free, Michael Freyaldenhoven, Matt Fryer, Amanda McWhirt, Lee Riley, Bill Robertson, Karl Vandevender and Pearl Webb.

Distinguished Service Awards – Anna Goff from Washington County and Cindy Hamm from Clark County.

Lynn R. Russell Endowed Award of Professional Excellence – JoAnn Vann, Clark County.

Mildred and Liz Childs Professional Development Fund Scholarship – Amy Monk, Montgomery County staff chair.

To learn about the Cooperative Extension Service, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit Follow us on Twitter at @UAEX_edu.


About the Division of Agriculture

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system. 

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.  

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. 

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Media Contact: Tracy Courage
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126