NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J — During the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Annual Conference on January 13th a presentation of awards for excellent work was made by extension director Brian Schilling, associate director of administration and personnel Kathleen Howell and administrative coordinator Rhonda Breen-Simone.
Wilbur M. Runk Award
Recipient: Shannon Sked
Mentor: Changlu Wang, Associate Extension Specialist in Entomology
Shannon Sked’s research in urban pest management is focused on techniques to assess: the spatial distribution of house mouse and building-wide house mouse management in high-rise apartments; the comparison of two types of mattress encasements on bed bug special distribution and elimination in apartments.
One of his goals is to design and evaluate more cost-effective methods and programs to manage these two common urban pests. While pursuing his Ph.D., he has been published in refereed journals and has aided two low-income communities implement a 90% effective house mouse IPM program.
Sked exemplifies himself as a highly motivated individual, balancing his work as manager of Western Pest Services (a regional pest control company) with his studies as a Ph.D. student, in addition to volunteering his time towards sharing his knowledge on entomology to help raise funds for various not-for-profit organizations.
Merle V. Adams Award
Recipient: Matthew Elmore, Assistant Extension Specialist, Rutgers University Department of Plant Biology
Matthew Elmore performs innovative research in turfgrass weed science and weed control solutions. He is also a published author, teacher and mentor. In his three years working in the Department of Plant Biology, his program has attracted the support of notable sources, receiving competitive grants and contracted research. Matt has provided us with an advanced understanding of the competitiveness of weeds in various systems.
Mary Jane Willis Diversity Award
Recipient: Shailja Mathur, Sr. Program Coordinator, FCHS
Nominator: Kathleen Morgan
Applying her expertise in Chronic Disease Prevention, Shailja Mathur plays a vital role in the facilitation of prevention programs which help improve the health of New Jersey’s South Asian communities. Some of her efforts include her work with the farmers markets, schools and senior centers. Mathur has created and lead both educational workshops and radio broadcasts on health issues. All projects she is involved in are improved due to her attention to detail and the knowledge she brings to the table. Her work serves a population whose needs are critical, yet often ignored. Kathleen Morgan noted that Mathur truly “brings diversity to the population pool served by RCE outreach.”
Specialist of the Year Award
Recipient: Thierry Besançon, Specialist in Weed Science
Thierry Besançon is a hard-working researcher, educator, and trainer. Through his work as a weed specialist, he explores techniques to aid modern agricultural challenges such as cross and multiple resistance to herbicides. Beyond his research, Thierry is known for being supportive to his fellow RCE members. He is always prompt, responsive, and helpful.
Best of the Best Team Award
For a program effort to be selected for this recognition it must have documented evidence of the impact of the program. The level of impact must be measurable and should include social, economic and/or environmental impact. It must be a team approach involving RCE multi-departmental personnel. It must have demonstrated evidence of leverage of base dollar support for the program. (i.e.: external funding or significant in kind support) Nominations will be evaluated on the extent to which they meet the following criteria:
- Address a specific current issue
- Demonstrate measurable impact that has already been documented through structured evaluation
- Reach out to a diverse audience
- Exhibit potential for others to adapt and use the program
- Provide resource materials for others to use
- Demonstrate consistency with NJAES/RCE Mission with written Plan of Work and/or lesson plan
- Involve a broad-based, multi-departmental team
- Document program results in scholarly work
Recipients: Hemant Gohil, Gary Pavlis, Dean Polk, Megan Muehlbauer, Daniel Ward, Peter Oudemans, Anne Nielson, Thierry Besancon, George Hamilton, Dave Schmitt and Anna Molinski
Nominator: Hemant Gohil
These individuals comprise an interdepartmental team which is dedicated to a highly impactful Extension Program: Supporting New Jersey’s Wine Grape Industry. Their work provides research-based knowledge to the Wine Grape industry of New Jersey, supporting economic and environmentally sustainable production.
RCE Award of Excellence Award
The purpose of the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Award of Excellence is to recognize faculty, staff and volunteers who demonstrate outstanding performance and creativity, and their contribution to RCE, how it has resulted in a positive change or has made a significant impact and enhanced RCE at a local county, state and/or national level.
Volunteer Recipient: Joanne Krueger, Rutgers Master Gardener
Nominator: Madeline Flahive DiNardo, County Agent/ Associate Professor RCE of Union County
Joanne Krueger has dedicated an impressive 11,862 hours over 30 years promoting the mission of Rutgers Cooperative Extension for, among other accomplishments: works full-time as a professional conference organizer; has served as 1st Vice President and 2nd President of Union County’s Master Gardener Executive Board; returned to serve as Secretary and Treasurer; wrote the first edition of the planning manual for the annual State Master Gardener conference as a board member.
Krueger’s efforts helped to lay the foundation for the Master Gardener program. She is an engaging and inspirational leader. Madeleine Flahive DiNardo says, “Her professionalism and advocacy with local supporters and legislators has made the Master Gardener program an integral part of Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County”
Faculty Recipient-Michelle Brill, Extension Faculty/ Associate Director/ Assistant Director
Nominator- Daryl Minch, FCHS Educator-Somerset County
Michelle Brill is a Family and Community Health Sciences Educator with an impressive publication record. In addition, her unique experience as a health educator for youth with developmental disabilities has made her a significant attribute to RCE’s SNAP-Ed program. Through her collaboration with Jeannette Rea-Keywood, State 4-H Agent, the nationally recognized, peer-reviewed Developmental Disabilities Training Series has reached approximately 150 people across the nation positioning RCE as a leader in diversity and inclusion for people with developmental disabilities. Brill’s invaluable expertise has guided curricula development for the education of older adults, new parents, youth and adults with special focus on individuals with disabilities and programs for breastfeeding initiation and duration in minority populations.
Programmatic Staff/Associate State Program Coordinator: Alex DelCollo, Senior Program Coordinator-FCHS
Nominator: Kathleen Theresa Morgan, Acting Chair
Alex DelCollo is recognized especially for her community impact and her role as a leader. For four and one half years, she has worked in Salem County department of FCHS, reestablishing FCHS’s community. The strides she has made turned her into the “county go-to for health and wellness”. To ensure the needs of Salem County were met DelCollo “partnered with the Food Bank of South Jersey and the NJ Department of Agriculture to host the first Salem County Food Summit in 2016”. This event resulted in a greater than 80% increase of summer meals served in an open site in 2016.
DelCollo also worked on a NJ Department of Health, CDC funded initiative to increase physical activity at the workplace through policy, system, and environmental change. Through this program organizations increased CDC activity scores by an average of 10.1 pts on average. In 2018, as a leading member of the Live Healthy Salem County Coalition, she voluntarily lead grant writing for her region while also compiling information for Cumberland County as they were without FCHS representation. This was an intense task to say the least, but nothing she could not handle. As Kathleen Morgan has said, “Alex has taken the bull by the horns and has truly exemplified what it means to work in cooperative extension.”
Paraprofessional/Program Assistant-Tammy Suydam, 4-H Program Assistant
Nominator- Michelle Infante-Casella, County Extension Department Head
Tammy Suydam contributes to the vitality and longevity of the 4-H Youth Development program through her management of various programs not only within Gloucester County, but also regionally, and statewide. During her 18 year tenure, Suydam has played a vital role in organizing and running the Gloucester County 4-H Fair Association, hosted the New Jersey 4-H State Horse Show in Gloucester County in 2018 and this year she is a co-chair of the annual South Jersey Teen Conference. Tammy provides valuable support to her staff and maintains a professional demeanor at all times. She is always doing her part to “ensure the Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Gloucester County 4-f Youth Development program continues to thrive and grow in both numbers of children and in educational opportunities.”
Recipient: Alexandra Zolla, Administrative Assistant/ Supportive Staff Excellence Award
Nominator: Alayne Torretta, County Extension Department Head
Alexandra Zolla has proved herself an indispensable member of the Warren County Extension team and has afforded RCE of Warren County an excellent reputation with other county departments as well as the public. Zolla is highly regarded for her excellent communication and software capabilities. She is described as a “quick and eager learner” and earned a promotion to Secretarial Assistant. Zolla exceeds what is required of her. She has displayed herself as an individual of “excellent character” and emotional intelligence.
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