UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment Recognizes Those Who Empower Women

LEXINGTON, Ky., (Nov. 1, 2016) The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment recently honored 25 students, staff, faculty and alumni for empowering women during the college’s second annual Multicultural Awareness Day.

The nominees honored at the "Women in CAFE — Empowering our Future Luncheon and Awards Ceremony," which was held at the Hilary J. Boone Center on campus, spanned the three aspects of the university’s land-grant mission, teaching, research and extension, as well as alumni and students.

“With the college’s first female dean, we felt it was imperative that we took time to recognize all the women and the work they’ve been doing in our college, and most importantly, unsung heroes — those who may not always get the spotlight,” said Natasha Saunders, extension associate for diversity recruitment and retention and a member of the event’s planning committee. “And we wanted to include those we partner with, who work really hard to make sure we’re providing opportunities for UK employees and students.”

Dean Nancy Cox welcomed the group by referencing the origins of the college 151 years ago under the “rather bold concept for a university to educate the common folks.”

“We’ve been spending the last couple of years reflecting on what it means to be a land-grant university,” she said. “It was considered a university for the people, but many sitting in this room would not have been enrolled then. It was mostly for white men at that time, but it still was a revolutionary concept, because it exposed a whole new generation of folks to education. As that initial legislation has evolved, we have grown in diversity. We are still growing in diversity at the University of Kentucky and in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.”

Currently, more than 57 percent of undergraduate students in the college are women. A little more than a quarter of the faculty are women and 38 percent of those in college leadership roles are women.

Saunders said the common thread among the nominees is they all are going beyond the call of duty to make sure that women feel empowered.

“Whether that’s in the lab or the classroom, whether that’s to help overcome gender barriers or to make them feel they have what it takes to be competitive against any male counterpart in their field — that’s what we’re taking time to honor today,” Saunders said.

The nominees and winners for this year’s awards are:

Trailblazer Award:

· Nancy Cox, winner. First female dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment

Passing the Torch Student Award:

· Elham Darbandi, winner. Graduate student, Agricultural Economics

· Barbara Wadsworth, winner. Graduate student, Animal and Food Sciences

· Karmella Dolecheck, nominee. Graduate student, Animal and Food Sciences

· Erica Rogers, nominee. Undergraduate student, Agricultural Economics

Community Empowerment Award:

· Hazel Forsythe, winner. Retired professor, Dietetics and Human Nutrition

· Ashley Searles, winner. Farm Credit Mid-America

Alumni Legacy Award:

· Martha Thompson, winner. Retired, UK Cooperative Extension Service

· Susan Campbell, nominee. CAFE Business Center

Research Empowerment Award:

· Sue Nokes, winner. Chair, Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering

· Lesley Oliver, winner. Associate director, UK Agricultural Experiment Station

· Claudia Heath, nominee. Professor, Family Sciences

· Vanessa Jackson, nominee. Chair, Retailing and Tourism Management

· Ann Vail, nominee. Director, School of Human Environmental Sciences, assistant director, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension, and interim dean, College of Social Work

Instruction Empowerment Award:

· Czarena Crofcheck, winner. Professor and director of undergraduate studies, Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering

· Krista Jacobsen, winner. Assistant professor, Horticulture

· Mark Coyne, nominee. Professor and director of graduate studies, Plant and Soil Sciences

· Rita Parsons, nominee. Administrative assistant and chair of the Department Support Committee, Agricultural Economics

Extension Empowerment Award:

· Kim Henken, winner. Assistant to the director, Human Environmental Sciences

· Ashley Holt, winner. 4-H youth development education agent, Jefferson County

· Janet Mullins, winner. Extension professor, Dietetics and Human Nutrition

· Kim Ragland, winner. 4-H youth development education agent, Boyle County

· Ann Freytag, nominee. Senior laboratory technician, Plant and Soil Sciences

· Nicole Gauthier, nominee. Extension plant pathologist, Plant Pathology

· Karen Ramage, nominee. Retired county operations director, UK Cooperative Extension Service

· Laura Skillman, nominee. Director, Agricultural Communications Services

“We really do take pride in our collaborations, trying to learn from each other’s differences, being flexible, being fair and providing equal opportunity,” Cox told the gathering. “We’re still trying to do better every day, but this is the day we can pat you on the back for a good job.”


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