Each year, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, a unit of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES), honors faculty and staff for their outstanding work and outreach through their programs and support. The winners for 2014 received their awards at the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Annual Conference at the Cook Campus Center in New Brunswick on October 20.
The Rutgers Cooperative Extension Excellence Awards are to recognize faculty, staff and volunteers who demonstrate outstanding performance and creativity, and how their contribution to Extension has resulted in a positive change or has made a significant impact and enhanced RCE at a local county, state and/or national level. The Award for Volunteer Excellence was awarded to Sherrie and Matt Peterson, Hunterdon County 4-H volunteers; the Award of Excellence for Support Staff recipient is Anita Wagner, keyboarding clerk 3, RCE of Atlantic County and the Award of Excellence for a Program Associate was awarded to Marycarmen Kunicki, 4-H senior program coordinator, RCE of Passaic County.
Sherrie and Matt Peterson have served in a variety of roles within multiple project areas at both the state and county levels. The Petersons are instrumental in the New Jersey 4-H Shooting Sports program, the fastest growing 4-H project area in the state. Their club is the largest 4-H Shooting Sports Club in the state with more than 20 trained instructors and 40 4-H club members. The Petersons tirelessly promote opportunities for state and national involvement and their members regularly participants in state and national 4-H leadership events. Recently, two club members were selected to participate in the National 4-H Shooting Sports Teen Leadership Institute, a prestigious honor.
On the state level, the Petersons serve on the State 4-H Shooting Sports Advisory Council and have held leadership roles within that group. They have been trained in every 4-H shooting sports discipline which requires a minimum of 14 hours of classroom and range training per discipline. The Petersons also organize and facilitate the State 4-H Air Rifle and Small Bore shoot every year.
In addition to all they do for the State and the Hunterdon County 4-H Shooting Sports programs, Sherrie serves as the leader of a 4-H Goat Club and assists with the state level goat project area events. They are also dedicated 4-H parents and exemplify all that is sought in 4-H volunteers, caring adult volunteers, sharing their time, skills, and interests with youth in an effort to build caring, competent and contributing citizens.
Anita Wagner has assisted with all aspects of administrating the Master Gardener Program of Atlantic County. As a result the program has been a success, growing each year, and the retention rate of Master Gardener volunteers has been increasing. She designed an Excel spreadsheet which assists in the management of program records and is vital in determining the success and outreach of the program. Additionally Wagner developed the Master Gardener portion of the RCE of Atlantic County website as well as that of the other departments. Of note is the Ask the Gardener segment on the website. She is dedicated and committed to RCE and represents Rutgers in a positive light.
Marycarmen Kunicki has provided superior sustained service to RCE and Passaic County by taking on new roles, showing leadership on the state level, and overcoming obstacles while managing Extension on the county level. She has used her CEDH position as Cooperative Extension department head to improve RCE’s reputation in the county, has successfully handled delicate budget issues, and has been a great resource for other departments in the county. A Passaic County RCE Stakeholder’s meeting was well-attended and the stakeholders remarked on the vast improvements to RCE’s response to county needs and residents’ inquiries.
Kunicki has gone above and beyond her job description to deliver high-quality programming to various youth audiences (teens, elementary schools kids, and younger pre-K students). Her work has garnered national attention, with visits from 4-H’s National Headquarters and grants from national partners. Her 4-H youth participants have also taught GIS mapping to members of Congress. Although much of her effort is focused on the underserved population, she also takes care to reach the more rural and suburban audiences in the northern part of the county with traditional based clubs.
The Rutgers Cooperative Extension Award of Excellence for faculty was awarded to Dave Lee, Salem County agricultural agent and county extension department head.