Forsyth County Volunteer Awards

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National Volunteer Week falls on the third week of April each year, and North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Forsyth County Center, hosted a Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon to honor all of its volunteers. 11 individual volunteers and one partner organization were recognized for their achievements and outstanding dedication to North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Forsyth County.

We are honored to present the following Volunteer Award Winners:

Soil and Water Conservation Award

Beth Tucker

Beth Tucker served for 12 years on both the Agricultural Advisory Board and the Forsyth Soil & Water Conservation District Board. She has been a dedicated board member and has always sought to assist our farmers and the agricultural community in every way possible. She was instrumental in bringing the Voluntary Agricultural District Program to Forsyth County. Her outreach efforts have ensured that recipients of grant-funded projects were well informed and that the funding was utilized for the intended purpose.

4-H Youth Development Award

Angie Cook

When the Treasurer of the Forsyth County 4-H Council announced her retirement, Angie Cook agreed to take on the role. She has risen to the challenge even during COVID. She never fails to balance the accounts promptly. She has taken on this role in addition to serving as a co-leader for the Trailblazers 4-H Club. Recently, she has also started assisting with the Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Program or WHEP team; making flashcards and Quizlets (or online quizzes) for the team to study with. Angie does not hesitate to assist when needed and goes above and beyond the call of duty.

Master Gardener℠ volunteer Award

Jane Sandridge

Jane Sandridge has been a MASTER GARDENER volunteer in Forsyth County since 2007. Jane is especially dedicated to helping at the Arboretum at Tanglewood Park  – you can find Jane at the Arboretum almost every week, assisting in a variety of ways. Jane serves as chair of the spring plant sale and a member of the Adult Education committee, she volunteers at the Youth Education program, and organizes and manages the memorial brick orders, including installing each brick after it has been ordered. Jane serves on the FACES committee for MASTER GARDENER volunteers where she helps plan events and reach out to other volunteers, making sure they are engaged and happy. In addition, Jane is always open to new ideas, willing to share her experience, and happy to lend a hand in any way that is needed during an event or volunteer workday. We appreciate Jane’s steadfast and calm nature, as well as the wealth of experience that she brings with her each time she comes to volunteer for us. 

Urban Agriculture Volunteer Award

Ann Cash & Susan Kimel

Two individuals who work in tandem in the Demonstration Garden at our office are Ann Cash and Susan Kimel. These volunteers have maintained the Demonstration Garden’s edible landscape both for aesthetics and productivity. Ann and Susan use research-based best practices in the edible gardens, making them great educational spaces for consumer vegetable gardening programming. These ladies are go-getters who are always ready to work! Throughout the spring and fall of the 2021 production season, Ann and Susan planted, cared for, and harvested over 675 lbs of produce donated to H.O.P.E. of Winston-Salem to be distributed to community members.

Natural Resources and Environmental Systems Volunteer Award 

Adam Tran

Adam Tran serves on the Natural Resources Advisory Committee and the Horticulture Program Advisory Committee, as well as serving as a MASTER GARDENER volunteer. He has volunteered to lead tree ID walks at Tanglewood Park and Old Salem. His Walking Guide to the Trees of Old Salem was a featured Forsyth County Creek Week event. His tree walks are extremely popular and he can impart a wealth of knowledge about native trees using teaching methods that make the walks relaxed and enjoyable.

Family and Consumer Science Volunteer Award

Regina Smith

Regina has been a member of the Extension & Community Organization (ECA) since 2004. Regina comes to all the ECA meetings and is very active in her community; this past year she completed 568 hours of community service. In addition, since 2011, she has created approximately 125 lap robes and baby blankets that have been donated to various organizations, and an additional 105 since 2018 that have been donated to Abbott’s Creek Senior Center, which is where her mother lives.

Community Garden Volunteer Award

Bob Le Pere

Bob Le Pere has been a longtime community garden mentor and MASTER GARDENER volunteer. Bob serves the community by mentoring new and developing community gardens, offering ongoing technical support, participating on various committees, and helping lead workshops. Bob has taught the summer gardening series at three branch libraries, led greenhouse workshops on his property, and started hundreds of transplants that he has donated to community gardens throughout Forsyth County. Bob currently mentors or volunteers with several gardens, including, but not limited to, the Produce Patch of Wellness at Positive Wellness Alliance, the Winston-Salem Street School, and the Ken Carlson Boys & Girls Club. 

Friend of Extension Award

Theressa Stephens, Church Childcare Center

Church Childcare Center helped to create raised beds to teach nutritional education offered through the SNAP-Ed curriculum for pre-k and Kindergarten children. The Daycare also provided a Kids Club active lifestyle and nutrition program at their summer camp. N.C. Cooperative Extension, Forsyth County Center, also conducted education focused on PSE (Policy, System, and Environmental) work focused on changes within the facility by educating the staff on what it is to be role models when it comes to healthy eating and being physically active. The administrative staff and teachers are very kind, selfless, people-oriented, and professional business people that anyone would enjoy working with.

Friend of Extension Award

Forsyth County Farm Bureau Board

The Forsyth County Farm Bureau has been a longtime friend of Cooperative Extension. In the past, the board has annually supported numerous programs in Agriculture, Foods and Nutrition, and 4-H Youth and Family Development. This Board has actively stepped up to the plate to fund programs that are helping our field faculty and staff deliver cutting-edge programs with best practices in mind for our clientele. Often, board members also serve on our committees, our Advisory Council, attend our programs and assist with our marketing efforts. A few of the programs they are sponsoring this year include: pollinators and electric kits for youth classrooms, 4-H camp session registrations, study tours and competitions for Forsyth 4-Her’s, livestock scales to promote agriculture, Farm City week events for our supporters, education for “Farm to Table”, horticultural tools, rainwater harvesting supplies, and small farmer appreciation events. 

COVID Innovators

Over the past two years, our department was able to deliver new approaches to educating our clientele. The COVID Pandemic was difficult for everyone. It allowed everyone to rethink our work to become more effective. We are proud of the fact that our programs have remained strong through this time. We were able to learn and implement new technologies and ways to help our community through these tough times. Our volunteers proved to be no exception. This year, we have a special award category to recognize two individuals who went above and beyond to support this community in new and innovative ways through COVID.

Audena Spain

These past couple of years since COVID  – ECA members have been strongly affected. Audena was able to keep herself busy and positively impact her community. She made between 600 to 700 masks or more because she eventually lost count. She passed out masks to people in her community, free of charge. She invested over 500 hours of her time and donated over $1200 in the material. She is actively involved at the County, District, and State levels with ECA Activities, and is currently the Peacehaven ECA Club President.

Courtney Branch

Courtney Branch stepped up to continue gardening education by partnering with multiple Extension staff to host virtual workshops through the pandemic. She also supported a wide range of programming needs that included mental health and horticultural therapy, starting plants from seed, and answered other questions about garden accessibility, community wellness, and gardening during tough times. She has embraced many community partners and welcomed them to the farm at Crossnore, and always kept her students as her main priority. She is on the Community Garden Advisory Council and has offered greenhouse space at the farm for community members to use during the pandemic.