Extension TodayNews from and about the 1890 Land-Grant Extension System
Message from the Chair
Dr. Carolyn Williams Executive Associate Director, Prairie View A&M University
Celebrating excellence during Women’s History Month
I enjoyed reading this month’s edition, which highlights the 1890 influences that fuel positive changes in our families and communities.
Also, this month, we are pleased to recognize influential and powerful women from the 1890 community who are constantly working to make the world a better place and to brighten up our lives.
Featured in this month’s newsletter, note the exceptional role models and contributions made by diverse women throughout history. It shows their passion for family, education, health, leadership, economic development, agriculture and positive youth development that transformed U.S. history.
Holmes selected as HBCU leadership Fellow
Alabama Extension Assistant Director Kimberly Sinclair-Holmes was chosen as a 2023 fellow of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Executive Leadership Institute (HBCU ELI). The HBCU ELI is a 12-month program that provides fellows with training using 13 core competencies and micro-credentials to master skills in a particular area. The program also includes a virtual coaching component, which matches each fellow with a mentor as they progress through the training.
“I am inspired by HBCU presidents and others who demonstrate transformational leadership during these very challenging times,” Holmes said. “I hope to apply skills enhanced and expanded in this program to promote pathways of economic mobility for students and communities we serve.”
Holmes will conclude HBCU ELI training in November 2023 upon completion of all requirements for graduation and certification.
As an Extension assistant director at a historically Black university, she manages a team of seven specialists. This team conducts outreach activities in more than 26 counties in Alabama and beyond. Holmes also served in administrative positions at other HBCUs, including Kentucky State University, Savannah State University and Albany State University.
Margeria Smith: Driven in agriculture
Margeria Smith, area agriculture educator and licensed drone pilot, began her professional career with Alcorn State University Extension as an area agriculture educator in October 2017.
Driven by her late grandfather's farm ethics, she takes pride in providing local small farmers and ranchers with the best education, training and knowledge. She's worked on Mitigating & Reducing COVID-19 and Walmart: Access to Capital for Black Farmers and Ranchers sub-award contracts as the principal investigator.
Smith received her Bachelor of Science in Plant and Soil Science from Alcorn State University in 2016, completed her Master of Science in Agronomy in 2022 and became a licensed drone pilot in 2022. She specializes in drone technology and is responsible for educating individuals on properly using various systems and applications. She is magnetic in the workplace and uses her positive attitude and energy to encourage others to work tirelessly toward success.
DSU Extension spotlights Carolyn Grier
During the month of March, Delaware State University (DSU) Cooperative Extension spotlights Nutrition Education Assistant Carolyn Grier in honor of Women’s History Month.
Grier is a Philly girl, born and raised. On Philadelphia Public Schools playgrounds is where she spent most of her days (this author couldn’t resist the homage to Fresh Prince). She graduated from George Washington High School in 1994. She briefly attended Gwynedd Mercy University and, though currently a Delaware resident, she remains a loyal supporter of her hometown football team, the Philadelphia Eagles.
Grier reflects on Women’s History Month by centering her work and the women who have been instrumental in her life.
“I’ll always admire the women in my family, most notably my mother, Carolyn Grier, and my grandmother, Julia Grier,” she mused. “Another woman I admire is my pastor, Mrs. Cecelia Snorton. I have learned so much from her regarding ministry and business. She knows who she is and her purpose in life. I am blessed that through her coaching and tutelage, my self-confidence is renewed and fortified.”
Communicator dedicated to fulfilling the 1890 land-grant mission
Fort Valley State University (FVSU) salutes Latasha Ford, an award-winning journalist and professional communicator.
Born and raised in Georgia, Ford is committed to fulfilling the 1890 land-grant mission by promoting the impact of research, Extension and education. To support this mission, she serves as the research communications specialist in the Agricultural Communications Department for FVSU's College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology. During her five years at FVSU, she has stepped into leadership roles to serve on local, national and international committees and present at conferences.
Her friendly personality and dedication to her work of helping people have earned her opportunity after opportunity to include serving as secretary of the FVSU Staff Council Executive Committee, member services director of the Association for Communication Excellence (ACE), 1890 representative of the Southern Research Communicators Consortium (SRCC) and editor of the Association of Extension Administrators (AEA) monthly newsletter, which highlights impacts across the 1890 community.
Furthermore, Ford supports student activities. Most recently, she traveled to Ghana and the Ivory Coast to help promote FVSU students’ traveling abroad experiences on social media through video and photography. Ford also presents higher education and career opportunities in various communities. In 2022, she and Dr. Yolanda Surrency, an FVSU technology curriculum specialist, created Writer’s Playground. This free course aims to foster middle and high school students’ creative thinking and writing, as well as strengthen their research, presentation and technological skills.
Ford earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Georgia Southwestern State University and a Master of Education in Higher Education Administration from Georgia Southern University.
Susan Miller is living the dream
It has always been Susan Miller’s dream to farm. Now a third-generation farmer with 4.5 acres in Lincoln County, Kentucky, Miller is living her dream.
Miller runs the farm with her husband, George, and their two daughters. The Millers sell their produce and honey produced by their bees at the Lincoln County Farmers Market. When Miller started farming 20 or so years ago, “farming was a man’s world.”
“Most of the time, you didn’t see women working on the farm,” she said. “Over the last 10 years, I’ve noticed that there are more and more women who are getting into vegetables, into farming in general.”
Going to conferences is a great opportunity for Miller to see and learn from what other people are doing, including other women and, specifically, other Black women.
Miller advises young women farmers to make sure their credit is good so that they are prepared when an opportunity to buy land arises. Her other advice: Follow your dreams, like she has been able to. To hear more from Miller, watch Kentucky State University’s interview with her at https://bit.ly/kysu_susan.
Keisha Watson Scott: Impacting urban agriculture through Langston University Extension
Keisha Watson Scott, an urban agricultural technician for Langston University Cooperative Extension & Outreach Program (LU/CEOP), is an accomplished Oklahoma County Master Gardener and a Master Wellness Volunteer. Teaching others about gardening or running a successful farm is her passion. A love of agriculture began early for Scott, and it continues to drive her desire in sharing her knowledge about gardening and running a successful farm.
“The average gardener who is growing and selling produce but may not realize they have a business. I love teaching them beyond gardening, finance, taxes and business plans,” said Scott.
Scott was born and raised in Watonga, Oklahoma, where she also participated in 4-H youth development. Her family raised cattle along with growing wheat and sod. She was most inspired by her dad who operated a successful farm until she was in her early 20s. She recalls starting by growing vegetables at an early age with her grandmother.
“Watching my grandparents/parents in their garden and farm is what led to my love of agriculture,” said Scott.
She and her husband, Lonzell, then in the military, moved to Alaska, where they lived for 11 years. During that time, they adjusted to a completely unique way of growing vegetables with the help of friends and the Alaska Extension office. The Scotts were able to have a small productive garden.
The great LUCE women who make it happen
In recognition of Women’s History Month, Lincoln University of Missouri Cooperative Extension proudly recognizes the true backbone of the department.
Gina Avery, Tiara Riggs-Butler, Pamela Riley and Mary Woods are the glue that holds everything together, ensuring that operations run smoothly and efficiently. Each woman possesses a unique combination of organizational skills, attention to detail and interpersonal abilities that enable them to make a significant impact.
They are the resolute and hardworking women who show up for work to deliver their full support to help uplift the underserved rural and urban communities in Missouri. Their hard work and dedication inspire us to strive for excellence and make a positive impact in our own lives and in the lives of others.
STEM specialist helps teens, communities conquer digital divide
For Misty Blue Terry, Ph.D., science, technology engineering and math (STEM) are the keys to success for youths heading into the workforce in the 21st century.
Blue-Terry, the 4-H STEM specialist with Cooperative Extension at N.C. A&T State University, came to the university in 2010 and has created and successfully implemented programs in robotics, the mobile classroom Innovation Station, and most recently, 4-H Tech Changemakers, an effort funded by the National 4-H Council to train tech-savvy teens to teach tech skills to adults looking to find jobs or advance in their current positions.
“We are tackling the digital divide using a teens-as-teachers approach,” said Blue-Terry, of the 4-H Tech Changemakers. “Most teens realize that broadband access and technological literacy are essential in today’s world and that access to broadband is not equal across the state. We help them sharpen their knowledge and share it with others so they can help their communities prosper.”
Blue-Terry also leads a $1.16 million program to implement STEM curricula with middle school students in communities in four rural, underserved counties. That effort is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Children, Youth and Families at Risk (CYFAR) program. Read more about Blue-Terry’s work. Read the National Institute of Food and Agriculture's (NIFA) profile.
Kimberly Ratcliff: Making a mark
In honor of National Women’s Month, Prairie View A&M University is highlighting an accomplished woman in agriculture, a Texas native who has built formidable businesses that center family-owned operations and prioritize female leadership and diversity.
Kimberly Ratcliff left a successful corporate career to join her family’s ranching operation in East Central Texas in 2007. Under her leadership, Caney Creek Ranch produces Charbray Cattle, from which bulls, replacement heifers, semen and embryos are sold nationally and internationally. In 2016, Ratcliff launched Farm to Freezer Meat Company, which offers fresh beef directly from the ranch. Ratcliff is the current president of 100 Ranchers, a minority-led nonprofit that helps agriculture producers produce safe, clean and marketable products.
Ratcliff is a competent and knowledgeable agriculture professional but still finds hurdles to jump through because of her gender.
“Stories of Black women in agriculture are underrepresented in the pages of history, but their impact has been transformational and inspiring,” Ratcliff said. “Honoring women of color in agriculture for National Women's Month is one way to help provide more opportunities for us to tell our stories.”
Ratcliff’s career continues to thrive in agriculture as she commits to making a mark for herself and other Black women. She recently filmed segments for television series such as Hulu’s “BBQuest” and Magnolia Network’s “Family Dinner with Andrew Zimmern,” with more TV opportunities on the way.
SC State alum, renowned food safety expert, brings expertise to 1890 program
Dr. Willette M. Crawford ’02, who is recognized for developing the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) regulations and updating the agency’s approach to foodborne illness outbreak and recall investigations, will serve as senior scientist and director for the 1890 Center for Food Safety and Health.
“I am ecstatic to return to my alma mater and join the 1890s,” Crawford stated. “I plan to bridge the gap between complex scientific concepts and practical solutions and share knowledge of food safety and functional foods that will help improve the health and well-being of farmers.”
Crawford states land loss and declining interest contributed to the decline in Black farmers in South Carolina. With research-based solutions, Crawford looks to provide opportunities to revitalize Black farming and agriculture through her work.
Crawford is responsible for creating specialized food safety training and curriculum for marginalized South Carolina farmers that will help them comply with FSMA regulations and understand the requirements to put their products into commerce. She also looks to discover natural biocontrol methods to mitigate foodborne illness-causing microorganisms.
Crawford has served in various roles, including leading U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition's first environmental assessment to investigate the E. coli O145 outbreak associated with romaine lettuce. For more information on the SC State 1890 Center for Food Safety and Health, contact Crawford at email@example.com.
Extension professional serves communities, develops leaders
By Lauryn Jackson, Communications Specialist
Carolyn Epting Robinson is a broadly trained Extension agent with almost 30 years of successful service in the areas of family and consumer sciences (FCS), agriculture, youth development and leadership development. She has provided management, leadership and educational expertise for a well-balanced Extension program.
In 1993, Robinson was employed by Louisiana State University to implement and provide leadership to a pilot program, the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), where she was responsible for family, nutrition and youth development in the assigned locales. She currently serves as a regional FCS/nutrition education supervisor for East/West Carroll Parishes.
Her core competencies are youth educational support, family and business development, nutrition education and parenting. In 1997, she furthered her service with Southern University AgCenter, where she began dual assignments providing leaders for LSU’s EFNEP and being an Extension agent.
Robinson is a gifted strategist and tactician who plans Extension programs based on locally identified needs, which will lead to improved quality of living for individuals and families. She is highly talented and resourceful in developing and/or utilizing councils, advisory groups and program committees to facilitate community involvement.
UAPB honors Teki Hunt as woman in Extension
As director of the 4-H Youth Development Program for the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Teki Hunt finds joy in her work with community youths.
“Working with children inspires me,” she said. “The moment when their eyes light up because they have grasped a concept for the first time makes the long hours worth it.”
Hunt is working with community partners in and around Pine Bluff to make sure more youths are being served and benefitting from 4-H programming.
“All of my maternal aunts were educators,” she said. “I guess you could say that being an educator runs in the family.”
During her career at UAPB, she has also served as assistant to the dean of academics for the School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences, an instructor for the Department of Human Sciences and an instructor of developmental reading for the Office of Basic Academic Services.
Hunt credits a former client with influencing her career.
“Elton Harrison III was a child with Down syndrome whom I initially babysat, then later provided services for when I worked as a waiver worker at Jenkins Memorial Center,” she said. “Seeing how he grasped concepts and communicated his wants and needs even though he was non-verbal, as well as seeing the joy he brought to his family and others, served as my inspiration for going into special education.”
Burton exemplifies the catchphrase ‘Extension Has Answers’
Visiting the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) Research, Extension and Teaching Farm is always filled with “WOW” moments. Chief among the reasons is seeing what UMES Extension Alternative Crop Specialist Dr. Nadine Burton is trying her hand at growing for community gardeners, small farmers, researchers and organizations.
A diamond in the elite group of “Women in Agriculture” highlighted in this issue of Extension Today, Burton has a formula for success. Approached with an agricultural need, she responds by researching a variety of growing techniques for success and conservation of space, cultivating test varieties of a plant to see if it is viable in a certain region, determining if there is a market, and exploring alternative and ethnic vegetables for crop diversification.
Last growing season, for example, Burton filled two hoop houses, one with traditional vegetables demonstrating a variety of containers and one with alternative and ethnic crops like ginger, Scotch bonnet peppers and hibiscus. In field plots nearby, she grew Jamaican callaloo, jute, cassava, baby choy and African black nightshade, among others. One of her many projects was working with a group of farmers to provide healthy, fresh produce to area food banks — a win-win for all.
Burton also grows plants such as Aronia, grapes and blueberries in partnership with UMES researchers for vital grant-supported work.
“We are here to offer advice and training,” Burton said. “Farmers or researchers who want to grow a certain crop can arrange a visit to our farm for the wealth of information we have to share. When it comes to food security, the fight is for all of us.”
Grace Summers named 2022 Small Farm Outreach Program’s Program Assistant of the Year
An amiable woman who radiates warmth, Grace Summers sows seeds of farming wisdom among the rows of Virginian and North Carolinian small-scale farmers who line up for her consultations and courses.
As a result of her labor, the Extension employee reaped an unexpected harvest of appreciation at the Small Farm Outreach Program Conference, where she was named the 2022 SFOP Program Assistant of the Year.
“It’s one of my greatest highlights for all the years I’ve been in agriculture,” said Summers, who has been in agriculture her entire life.
Born and raised on her family’s farm in Guilford County, North Carolina, a recognized Century Farm that has been in her family since 1878, she learned the value of working the land at an early age — along with its challenges. With three degrees in agriculture — a bachelor’s in agronomy and a master’s in both plant science and horticulture, and agricultural education — all her careers have been in agriculture.
Virginia Cooperative Extension extends the resources of Virginia's two land-grant universities, Virginia State University and Virginia Tech, to solve problems facing Virginians every day.
WVSU Extension educator branches out to spread tree knowledge in local communities
By Alisha Jarrett
Eden Clymire-Stern is a West Virginia Tree Minders Extension educator at West Virginia State University. She developed a passion for trees when she was a junior in high school and decided to intern with a local urban forestry nonprofit organization. She earned a bachelor’s degree in forest resource management from West Virginia University and a master’s degree in natural resources with a concentration in urban forestry from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
Her favorite part about her job is getting her hands dirty, especially when planting trees while educating community members on proper planting and maintenance techniques to maximize tree health.
Currently, Clymire-Stern is working on a large-scale tree-planting partnership with Diversified Energy. Approximately 10,000 trees will be planted in natural areas and urban communities throughout West Virginia.