Stefanie Ralph excels at agricultural education

November 8, 2012 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Stefanie Ralph, a University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) alumnus, has been named the 2012 Smyrna School District Teacher of the Year. Ralph graduated in 2007 with a bachelor of science degree in agricultural education and technology with a concentration in natural resources, and with a minor in landscape horticulture.

Of the award, Ralph said, “Being chosen as the District Teacher of the Year is unquestionable the most extraordinary honor of my career, and I wish to express my gratitude.  I think, at some point, every teacher begins to question if they’re doing a good job, especially since it often goes unrecognized. Being selected restores my confidence as a teacher, and it’s encouraging to know that my colleagues believe that I’m doing a good job.”

Ralph teaches 7th grade Agriscience at Smyrna Middle School, and she said that she believes that the school is filled with great teachers.  “The entire faculty at Smyrna is highly qualified and all go above and beyond the call of duty,” said Ralph.

Ralph said that she finds teaching middle school challenging but rewarding at the same time. Reflecting how most students in that age range are still trying to find themselves, Ralph said that the students are “constantly trying on different personas. They need to know they are cared for and are needed. It is rewarding to obtain a trusting, meaningful rapport with students as they enthusiastically grow and mature from the first day they walk into my class.”

Having been involved in 4-H and FFA for 13 years, Ralph said that it has been a lifelong goal of hers to educate and promote awareness about the importance of agriculture to students who may be unaware about the critical role it plays in their day-to-day lives. “I believe that education is the foundation of success and through my course, students develop various life skills to become active, contributing citizens to today’s society,” said Ralph. “I became a teacher to not only make a difference in a child’s life, but to prepare students for the future, as they are the future.”

While she attended CANR, Ralph said that her education helped her learn about various aspects of the agriculture industry, from taking classes on animal science and plant and soil science to agribusiness and natural resource management, among others. “By taking these various courses, I was able to expand my knowledge base in the agriculture industry; thus preparing me to teach various courses as an agriculture educator,” said Ralph.

Ralph also noted that she particularly enjoyed her study abroad trip to New Zealand, where she learned about pastoral livestock production, and that she enjoyed professors such as Patricia Barber, a retired faculty member from the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, David Frey, associate professor and assistant Chair in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, and Ed Kee, retired University of Delaware Cooperative Extension Specialist and University alumnus.

The person who she originally learned about agriculture from, however, was her grandmother. “As a young girl, I remember helping my grandmother in her garden, digging in the dirt, having fun, not realizing at that time she was teaching me to appreciate our environment. She was planting the seeds for me to grow and aspire in a way to continue my journey to learn more about my passion for plants and agriculture.”

For any current students who are hoping to one day become teachers themselves, Ralph offered some words of wisdom stressing the importance of preparation and passion in teaching. “The advice I would give to a future teacher is to show your passion in your lessons and planning; show the students that you are there for them to learn and you will stop at nothing for them to succeed.”

Article by Adam Thomas


4-H Shooting Sports teaches archery to campers, Special Olympians

October 10, 2012 under CANR News

When Jim Kemble brought his 4-H Shooting Sports archery expertise to the Delaware Burn Camp, he didn’t know what to expect. Now, after completing his fourth year with the program, he knows that it has been nothing short of a bull’s-eye.

Kemble comes in for two days every year and takes the campers through the steps of archery, teaching them safety and how to shoot properly. Kemble noted that he has a great group of 4-H archery certified volunteers that helps out with many of the 4-H Shooting Sports outreach activities, and he stressed that sharing archery skills does more than show the campers how to shoot straight.

“Our whole program is geared toward developing life skills,” said Kemble, associate scientist in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and a research associate at the Agriculture Experiment Center. Kemble said that the confidence the campers gain through the program is more important to him than teaching them to hit a target.

“One of the main essences of our program is to take and instill confidence and have the individual walk away from the program feeling that they’ve accomplished something and feel good about themselves and about what they’ve done.”

The campers begin by shooting at targets, but eventually move up to shooting balloons, which Kemble said is great because they can see instant results when they pop a balloon with an arrow.

Another highlight of the week is when the campers get to turn the tables, with Kemble allowing them to teach their counselors how to shoot properly. “That’s so rewarding for the campers to see that they’re actually teaching somebody to do that. It’s a real feel good feeling for them; it’s an accomplishment,” said Kemble.

Kemble also said he has noticed that every year he comes back, some of the campers’ archery skills have improved immensely. He shared a story about one girl in particular: “She started punching the bull’s-eye out right away on the targets and I looked at her and said, ‘Have you been practicing?’ She said ‘Yes, I practiced.’ Then I came back to her later and said, ‘Do you have your own equipment?’ She said yes. I asked, ‘Where did you get your interest and your start with archery?’ And she said, ‘Here at Burn Camp.’”

Joanne Hutchison, president of the Delaware Burn Camp and a nurse at Bayhealth Medical Center, said that the archery program has been a highlight at the camp since its inception. “One of the first things they look for when they come into camp is, are they going to have archery,” said Hutchison. “They love it, absolutely love it, and they get a big charge out of seeing that they improve.”

Hutchison also said that Kemble has been a great help with the campers, noting he is “phenomenal with the kids.”

She said the archery program stresses safety to the campers and believes that this teaches them “to be more self-controlled and to manage themselves a little more effectively.”

Taking place at Camp Barnes in Sussex County, the Delaware Burn Camp had six campers the first year and 14 campers this year. Hutchison said the camp is expanding steadily, serving children in the area of Delaware, southern Pennsylvania and the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Special Olympics

Kemble has also taken his 4-H Shooting Sports to Special Olympics Camp for the past half dozen years, and there he is greeted with similar enthusiasm from the participants.

“Mr. Kemble’s archery program at our summer camp the past few summers has been one of the highlights for our athletes and volunteer counselors,” said Gary Cimaglia, senior director of sports for Special Olympics Delaware. “It has given them the opportunity to try an activity they otherwise would never experience. Thanks to Mr. Kemble, our campers return home talking about ‘shooting arrows’ and hitting ‘bull’s-eyes.’”

Kemble said that the main difference between the two camps is the number of campers he has to instruct. He said that at their first archery session in July, Special Olympics had 60 campers. “We started at 9 o’clock in the morning and we went through until 4:30 in the afternoon. Every hour on the hour, we received a group coming in and it was always 10-12 in a group,” said Kemble.

That paled in comparison to the second session, when they had 112 campers come out. “We had eight sessions throughout the day, every hour on the hour,” said Kemble.

Cimaglia said that the hours have paid off, as the campers’ relish the opportunity to participate in the archery program. “The addition of his archery program has helped take the activities we offer to a whole new level,” said Cimaglia. “We are very grateful he is willing to share his expertise and make an impact on our athletes that can’t be measured in terms of the number of targets hit.”

Article by Adam Thomas

Photo courtesy of Delaware Burn Camp

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.


New Castle County 4-H to hold inaugural 5K run

September 20, 2012 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

The New Castle County 4-H program will hold its inaugural Quest for the Clover 5K race at 1 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 7.

Registration and the starting line will be at Christiana Towers on the University of Delaware’s Laird Campus, with the finish on Creek Road. Awards and snacks will be provided upon completion of the race.

All proceeds will benefit the NCC 4-H program on both the county and club level. 4-H is a youth development organization serving children ages 5-19 that covers hundreds of project areas and strives to reach youth in three national mission mandates: healthy living, citizenship and science.

Registration prior to Oct. 3 is $20 for adults and $15 for students. After Oct. 3, the price is $25 per person.

To register on-line, visit this website.

For a copy of a flyer in PDF format, click here.

For 4-H volunteer opportunities, contact the 4-H office at 302-831-8965.


UD freshman, 4-Her first American to win prestigious Microsoft competition

September 12, 2012 under CANR News

Jacob Blacksten, a freshman in the University of Delaware’s Associate in Arts Program (AAP) and a state 4-H member, won the 2012 world championship in Microsoft PowerPoint at a competition held in Las Vegas earlier this summer.

Backsten is the first American to win this event, which attracted more than 285,000 candidates from 53 countries who competed to demonstrate their mastery of Microsoft Office products.

In the final round, 113 student finalists participated. Separate events were held in Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint programs.

Blacksten won a $5,000 scholarship from Certiport, Inc., in recognition of his accomplishment.

The 18-year-old is a member of the Westville 4-H Club. The past two years he has served as club president.

A graduate of Caesar Rodney High School, Blacksten is a freshman in UD’s Associate in Arts Program at the Delaware Technical Community College campus in Dover through the state’s SEED (Student Excellence Equals Degree) scholarship program.

Blacksten’s road to becoming the PowerPoint champion began last February as a member of the Business Professionals of America (BPA) program at Caesar Rodney High.  After winning a BPA competition at school, he advanced to a national event in Chicago and finally, the world championship in Las Vegas.

“My experiences in 4-H over the years have helped me achieve in other areas of my life, including at this competition,” says Blacksten. “I’ve participated in 4-H public speaking competitions that have increased my ability to stay cool under pressure.”

“Out in Las Vegas I wasn’t really sure I had done that well,” adds Blacksten. “When they announced my name as the winner I sat in shock for maybe 30 seconds. I couldn’t believe I had won.”

Blacksten is unsure of his career plans but is leaning toward majoring in engineering with a minor in business.

Article by Margo McDonough

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.


A Bootiful two days at Sussex County 4-H Farm tour in Lewes

May 14, 2012 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

In rain and in sunshine, Sussex County 4-H held their annual two-day farm tour at Green Acres Farm in Lewes on Wed. May 9 and Thurs. May 10.  The dairy farm, the largest in Delaware, is owned by the Hopkins Family, longtime 4-H supporters who have opened their barn doors for agricultural education for the past 26 years.

Wednesday’s rain didn’t dampen this year’s exploration as more than 700 children, visited the farm’s many attractions, such as Pig Alley and Calf Lane and a tractor ride.  Sussex County 4-H focuses this agriculture education outreach for students in preschool to grade two. Students register through their schools. Each preregistered student received a free cone from the Hopkins Farm Creamery, which opened in 2009. Students, well-prepared in slickers and rain boots of many colors, confirmed that ice cream tastes as good in the rain as it does in the sun.

Thursday’s total neared 1,000 youth.  Wednesday’s rain had left a few mud puddles for the pigs to play in, delighting the students who watched them frolic in the soft, gushy Delaware soil.  An estimated 1900 visitors including teachers, parents, chaperones, Extension staff and 4-H and Master Gardener volunteers, attended the farm tour on both days.

During the tour, students, who leave the bus pinching their noses, eventually forget the farm aroma and begin to  make the connection between the family farm and the final food product – usually referred to as ‘farm to fork’ in this case was ‘farm to cone!’  Teachers and students have an opportunity to meet the Hopkins family; Walter and his wife Jenny; son Burli and wife Allison; and the next generation of Hopkins farmers, 4-H’ers Michael, Jacob, Grace and Luke who can be seen throughout the tour comfortably hanging out with the pigs, lovingly tugging on a cow’s ear and sharing their farm experiences with visitors.

Burli and dairy farm manager Bob Geiman offered tours of the modern milking process.  School children observed firsthand the all the teamwork efforts that go into producing healthy, nutritious and safe food. Under blue and gold tents Cooperative Extension educators provided additional learning, including exhibits on corn and corn products, healthy beverages and the importance of exercise.  A popular puppet and people show, the Adventures of Peter Rabbit in Farmer McGregor’s Garden was performed numerous times by volunteer Master Gardeners.

Local 4-H youth members brought their project animals, providing  a talkative tom turkey, horse, sheep, goats, ducks and rabbits  for young students to interact with and pet. UD Poultry Extension provided a chick hatchery and baby chick display, the inhabitants of which are now taking a much needed rest after being gently cupped by 1700 little hands.

Any area school or daycare center up to the second grade are invited to attend, with registration opening in late January before the May tour. The event is free.

For more information about the Sussex County Farm Tour contact the 4-H office at 856-7303.  Additional photos of the farm tour may be found at 4-H’s Flickr site:


In Memoriam: Samuel Gwinn

April 13, 2012 under CANR News

Dr. Samuel Gwinn of Newark, former director of University of Delaware Cooperative Extension and former state director of Delaware 4-H, died April 10 at the age of 92.  A leading and beloved figure in the Delaware agriculture community, he was known affectionately as “Mr. 4-H.”

Born in Meadowbridge, W.Va., Dr. Gwinn began his lifelong interest in agriculture and animal husbandry on his family’s 200-acre farm in Lockbridge, W.Va. At the age of 10, he joined a 4-H club and participated in corn, pig and vegetable projects, as well as judging contests, camps and other 4-H activities.

Dr. Gwinn served in the U.S. Army during World War II and received a Purple Heart. After the war, he received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from West Virginia University.

In 1948, Dr. Gwinn began working for UD Cooperative Extension as a Sussex County Cooperative Extension agent. He was appointed Delaware’s 4-H director in 1951. From 1955 to 1957, Dr. Gwinn took a sabbatical to earn a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin. In 1962 he became the director of UD Cooperative Extension, a position he held until his retirement 22 years later.

Dr. Gwinn was responsible for a broad range of accomplishments but was said to be most proud of his work in creating the 4-H overnight camp at Camp Barnes in Assawoman Bay Wildlife Area. Prior to Dr. Gwinn’s arrival in Delaware in 1948, Delaware had no overnight summer 4-H camp.

Dr. Gwinn established the Delaware 4-H Foundation, the fundraising arm of the organization that helps to pay for special programs, including sponsoring children who couldn’t otherwise afford to participate in 4-H activities.

As a result of his many accomplishments, Dr. Gwinn was named to the National 4-H Hall of Fame in 2003, the first Delawarean to be awarded that honor.

His survivors include his wife of 63 years, Dorothy Stanley Gwinn, whom he met at a 4-H camp in West Virginia; his son, Stanley M. Gwinn and his wife, Megan, of Newark, Del; and grandchildren, Jessica A. Gwinn and Ryan S. Gwinn of Pike Creek, Del. He was preceded in death by his brothers, Lonzo, Aubrey, Lester, Flonzie, Henry, and Thomas, and by his sisters, Icie and Dora.
A funeral service will be held at noon, Saturday, April 14, at Newark United Methodist Church, 69 East Main St., Newark, Del, where visitation will begin at 11 a.m. A committal service will be held at 10 a.m., Tuesday, April 17, at the Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery, 2465 Chesapeake City Road, Bear, Del.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Delaware 4-H Foundation, 113 Townsend Hall, 531 South College Ave., University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716 ( / 302-831-2509).

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Register now for Ag Day 2012

March 2, 2012 under CANR News, Events

Exhibitor and vendor registration for AG DAY 2012 is now OPEN!

This year’s event will be held on Saturday, April 28th from 10am-4pm rain or shine.  Due to record breaking attendance over the past few years, a few changes were made to the 2011 event which were well received.  The Ag Day team is continuing to improve the event based on last year’s changes and feedback that they receive on a continual basis.

Registration is ONLY available online this year.  Please visit the Ag Day website to register:

Registration is DUE BY FRIDAY MARCH 23, 2012 AND is subject to approval by the Ag Day Planning Team.  Only organizations/entities with missions relevant to the University of Delaware, agriculture and/or natural resources are accepted.  Once registration has closed, you will receive confirmation of your request.

Completion of an Ag Day 2012 Registration Form constitutes compliance with these guidelines.  This document is also available on the Ag Day website.  We recommend printing a copy for your reference.

Registration is NOT considered complete until payment is received.  Payment for Ag Day registration is due NO LATER THAN APRIL 2, 2012.   Please include the name of your organization with payment so that we can properly track your registration.  Late payment and registration will be subject to a $25 fee this year.  We have deadlines that we must meet for our own orders and late payments and registrations impose additional fees for us.

Payment (checks made payable to the University of Delaware) can be mailed to: AG DAY 2012, ATTN: Registration, 104 Townsend Hall, Newark, DE 19716.

UD entities who wish to pay by Journal Voucher must contact Carol Brower at or 302-831-2501 to obtain the speed type and account code.  You MUST cc and on the JV.

ATTENTION FOOD VENDORS! Please be sure to see the special section on the registration information page specifically for you.

If you have any questions, please reference the Ag Day website or contact Katy O’Connell at or 302-831-1355.


4-H Youth Congress

December 6, 2011 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Ten Delaware youth were selected to participate in the National 4-H Youth Congress, which was held recently in Atlanta. This leadership development conference is considered the flagship event of the 4-H program, providing youth with an unparalleled opportunity to learn about community involvement, culture diversity and service to others.

“I am very proud of the Delaware 4-Hers who represented our state at Youth Congress,” says Jan Seitz, associate dean and director of University of Delaware Cooperative Extension. “I know these students will take the knowledge they have gained and put it to good use in community service projects and other activities here in Delaware.”

Two youth from Kent County participated in the Youth Congress: McKenzie Ivory and Trevor Maloney. Eight youth from Sussex County attended: Bethany Killmon, Stephen Mervine, Jr., Joe Anderson, Jenna Hitchens, Nathan Bradley, Mary Catherine Lagano, Hunter Murray and Isabel (Izzy) Wharton.

Ivory is a 16-year-old member of the Harrington Sunshine 4-H Club. Her 4-H project areas of concentration include livestock and the fashion revue. Ivory is the daughter of Stephanie and Matt Ivory of Harrington. She attends Lake Forest High School.

Maloney is also a 16-year-old member of the Harrington Sunshine Cub. His 4-H project areas include goat, swine, woodworking and photography. He attends Milford High School and is the son of Timothy and Kelley Maloney of Houston.

Killmon is a member of the Dublin Hill 4-H club. She is in her eighth year of 4-H and attends Sussex Technical High School.  She has focused on raising and showing sheep and also has been involved in horticulture and photography projects. She is the daughter of Carla and Garry Killmon of Bridgeville.

Mervine is a 16-year-old member of the Dublin Hill 4-H Club. He enjoys photography projects but his favorite thing about 4-H is state camp. Mervine’s grandfather was inducted into the 4-H Hall of Fame and he hopes to follow in his footsteps someday. He is the son of Stephen and Polly Mervine of Bridgeville and attends Sussex Technical High School.

Anderson, 16, of Milton, is a member of the Hollymount 4-H Club. He is in his 10th year of 4-H and attends Sussex Technical High School. He has raised and shown dairy cows for eight years and also has been involved in swine and photography projects. He is the son of Sharon and Paul Anderson.

Hitchens, 17, is a member of Dublin 4-H Club. She is in her sixth year of 4-H and attends Sussex Central High School. She has raised and shown sheep for six years. She is the daughter of Tracie and Randy Hitchens of Georgetown.

Bradley has been in 4-H for eight years and is a member of the Seaford Blue Jays 4-H Club. The 16-year-old attends Sussex Technical High School. In 4-H, he has been active in fishing, shooting sports and food projects. He is the son of Jacalyn and Steven Bradley of Seaford.

Lagano, 17, also attends Sussex Technical High School. As a member of the Country Clover 4-H Club, she has been involved in robotics and clothing and textiles projects. She also enjoys being a counselor at 4-H camps. She lives in Frankford with her parents, Joe and Debbie Lagano.

Murray, 17, is a member of the Dublin Hill 4-H Club. He is in his ninth year in 4-H and attends Sussex Technical High School. He has raised and shown sheep for 9 years and has been involved in foods and arts and crafts projects. He is the son of David and Melissa Murray of Greenwood.

Wharton is a member of Buttonwood 4-H Club. The 17-year-old attends Sussex Technical High School and lives in Laurel with her parents, Wendy and Kip Wharton. She has raised and shown livestock for eight years and also has been involved in clothing and textiles and animal science projects.

For more information about Delaware 4-H, contact the state 4-H office at 302-831-2509.

Article by Margo McDonough

This article can also be viewed online on UDaily by clicking here.


Cooperative Extension Annual Conference

October 19, 2011 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension, Events

Cooperative Extension professionals from University of Delaware and Delaware State University met on Tues. Oct. 18, for their annual conference in Dover, to celebrate their unique partnership and excellence in Extension outreach programing that serves Delaware’s families and agricultural constituents.

The conference’s keynote speaker was Linda Kay Benning, executive director of Northeast Cooperative Extension Director and associate director for Extension and Outreach at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, located in Washington, D.C. Benning remarked on Extension’s rich history, the value of its current programming and the future of Extension funding at regional and national levels in the 21st century. Benning addressed the importance in raising awareness of the diverse programming that Cooperative Extension delivers to families, farmers, businesses and industry.

In recognition of Delaware’s Extension contribution the past year, the 2011 Cooperative Extension Awards of Excellence were announced:

Integration of Extension and Research Award:

  • Gordon Johnson, Maggie Moor-Orth, Richard Taylor, Phillip Sylvester, Rose Ogutu, Brigid McCrea, Megan, John Clendaniel, Dahlia O’Brien, Mike Wasylkowski, Lakhe Paudel, and Joann Walston.

Positively Outrageous Service Award for Innovative Marketing of Extension – Individual:

  • Carol Scott – 4-H Educator Afterschool program “Moving Youth Ahead.”
  • Mary Argo – 4-H Educator in Sussex County.

Positively Outrageous Service Award for Innovative Marketing of Extension – Team:

  • Tracy Wootten, Maggi Moor-Orth, and Sussex County Master Gardeners:  Brent Marsh, Jessica Clark, Jane Casazza, Susan Trone, Tracy Mulvaney, Mary Perkins, Mary Noel, Mary Hall, Marge Lewis and Linda Peters for:  “Peter Rabbit’s Adventure in Farmer McGregor’s Vegetable Garden,” a mobile theatrical presentation for children.

Outstanding Programming Award:

  • Tracy Wootten, Laurie Wolinski, and Maria Pippidis – for “Annie’s Project” which supports and empowers women in agriculture.
  • Maggie Moor-Orth, Tracy Wootten, and Brian Kunkel – “How Do You Like Me Now – Insects and Their Damage” and;
  • Gordon Johnson, Maria Pippidis, Kathleen Splane, Phillip Sylvester, Anne Camasso, Tracy Wootten, and Cory Whaley – “Food Safety on the Farm”
  • Karen Johnston, Michelle Ernst, and Amelia Uffelman – “4-H Health Rocks Program – Youth tobacco prevention program.”
  • Bill McGowan, “The Resourceful Leader”-Community development and economic gardening initiative.

Recipients of the Director’s Spirit of Extension Awards: Ernesto López, Rhonda Martell, Kathleen Splane and Albert Essel.

Epsilon Sigma Phi (ESP) the association of Extension professionals presented the following awards:

  • Adult Outstanding Volunteer Award- Hetty Francke.
  • Youth Outstanding Volunteer Award- Terra Tatman.
  • Group Outstanding Volunteer Award- Emerson Farms.
  • Friend of Extension- Agilent Technologies.
  • Meritorious Support Service Award- Sharon Webb.

Delaware State University recognized two Extension professionals:

  • Bridget McCrea – “1890 Administrator’s Award” for Extension Agriculture and Youth. Development.
  • Andy Wetherhill – “1890 Administrator’s Award for Diversity” in Agricultural Extension programs.

Earlier in the morning, the conference’s 100 attendees separated into agriculture, family and consumer science and 4-H youth development groups and discussed initiatives and exchanged new ideas on how to effectively reach their constituents’ future needs.

The ag group focused on how to enhance an $8 billion agriculture industry given current economic challenges.  Items of note included the ability to understand and anticipate the needs of the ag community, the capacity to engage those needs in a timely fashion and development and implementation of a strategy that creates an understanding and support for the value of Cooperative Extension.

Family and consumer science and EFNEP agents discussed what they see as emerging issues in nutrition, food safety, financial management and family well-being and how best to effectively communicate revised guidelines and research to local constituencies.

Through their diverse programming, 4-H reaffirmed that effective outreach to Delaware’s youth must rest on eight principles: a positive relationship with a caring adult, a safe emotional and physical environment, an inclusive environment, engagement in learning, opportunity for mastery, opportunity to see oneself as an active participant in the future, opportunity for self-determination and opportunity to value and practice service to others.

Tuesday’s gathering marked the last Extension Conference under the tenure of UD Associate Dean and Director of Cooperative Extension, Janice Seitz, who is retiring in April 2012. The ninth conference however, will not be Seitz’s last. In 2003, Seitz established the Lighthouse Award as a special honor bestowed to an Extension professional who “lights the way for others.” Each year, the holder of the Extension beacon has the responsibility to pass the award onto a deserving colleague. Doug Crouse, 2010 recipient, carefully considered his many options but concluded on one obvious choice, Dr. Jan Seitz, the founder of the award.

The award assures Seitz’s continued involvement in outreach programming and a return to next year’s conference to once again confer the award. But Seitz’s future participation was never in any doubt.  Though stepping out of her leadership role, Seitz plans to lend support and resources whenever needed.   “This is the greatest job I have ever had,” Seitz said. “I love Extension so much.”

Images of the conference are available on the UD Carvel Research and Education Center Flickr site:

Article submitted by Michele Walfred.


Karen Crouse honored by regional 4-H

August 8, 2011 under CANR News

Kent County and Delaware 4-H is proud to recognize Karen Crouse of Kent County, DE, for her commitment to 4-H and to her community. Crouse was named the 2011 North East Regional 4‑H Salute to Excellence Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer for her exceptional contributions as a 4-H volunteer and leader in the North East Regional 4-H program.

Although never a 4-H member herself, Karen jumped right in as project leader (in the mid-1980’s) and then co-organizational leader of the Harrington Sunshine 4-H Club from 1993 until the present.  The club started as 8 members, quickly grew to 60 members, and spiked to over 125 members by year three. Karen’s primary responsibilities, in additional to the general club duties, were to oversee community service projects and serve as the sewing project leader.

Karen instills the importance of community service in her 4-H members and has been extremely involved with the annual “Make A Difference Day Projects” that her club has done, including making and delivering over 4,000 Care Packets to the local hospital and military base during the past twelve years.  Karen also promotes leadership opportunities to youth in 4-H, encouraging members to get involved and participate in the many different 4-H events and opportunities that are available to them.  She is self-taught in sewing and has served as the sewing project leader for her club for over ten years, working with 7-10 young seamstresses annually.

Karen’s leadership does not stop at the club level, but extends to volunteerism at the county and state level as well.  On the county level, she has been an active member of the County Leader’s Association, serving on numerous committees during the past 20 years, and has worked with many county and state 4-H events, often behind the scenes as a judge or organizer.  Of particular note is her volunteer work with the Clarks Corner After-School Program and the Dover Air Force Base Military 4-H Club.

Karen has assisted with the Northeast Regional Volunteer Leader Forum both times that Delaware served as host, in 1998 and 2010. Her work has included presenting workshops and organizing.  She has been a workshop presenter at several Delaware State Leader Forums.  Karen has worked in the Delaware State Fair 4-H building for many years and has served as a chaperone for National 4-H Conference, National 4-H Congress, and the National Youth NERVF event at Cornell University. She has also worked with the Delaware Engaging Youth, Serving Community Program for five years, assisting with their annual forums and action events.  Karen was inducted into Kent County 4-H Links and has been an active participant.

In nominating Karen, Ernesto Lopez, Volunteer Specialist with the University of Delaware Extension Service, says, “Karen’s involvement with 4-H is extraordinary.  Her dedication to 4-H is a result of her own interests and the value she places on developing kids into productive citizens.  As 4-H educators, we know that we can call on Karen for any task, big or small and she is willing to help.”

Gene and Sharon Swackhamer established the National 4-H Salute to Excellence Volunteer Recognition Fund to emphasize the important work of 4-H volunteers across America. The awards, made possible through the Fund and Monsanto Company, the premier corporate sponsor, recognize 4-H volunteers who demonstrate exemplary service to 4-H while promoting service through volunteerism as both an opportunity and a privilege. Volunteers are awarded in two categories:  Lifetime Volunteer, for more than 10 years of service to 4-H; and Volunteer of the Year, for less than 10 years of service. For more information about the Salute to Excellence Program, contact JoAnne Leatherman at National 4-H Council at 301-961-2870 or

Monsanto Company is a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality.  For additional information, please visit

Article submitted by Michele Walfred

Photo by Lloydlee Heite