A team of agents from Virginia Cooperative Extension and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech has received the university’s 2013 Alumni Award for Outreach Excellence (team achievement).

Established by the university's Commission on Outreach and International Affairs with the support of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, the Alumni Award for Outreach Excellence is presented annually to recognize outstanding contributions by Virginia Tech faculty members who have extended the university's outreach mission throughout the commonwealth, the nation, and the world. Recipients are nominated by their peers, share a $2,000 cash prize, and are inducted into the university's Academy of Outreach Excellence.

The team members are:

  • John Blankenship, Extension agent, agriculture and natural resources, Tazewell County Office;
  • Jocelyn Dailey, Extension agent, 4-H youth development, Goochland County Office;
  • Brian Hairston, Extension agent, 4-H youth development, Henry County/Martinsville Office;
  • Jeremy Johnson, Extension agent, 4-H youth development, James City County;
  • Robert Meadows, state 4-H director emeritus;
  • Tonya Price, associate specialist for 4-H youth development; and 
  • Glenda Snyder, senior Extension agent emerita. 

Since 1994, Virginia 4-H has provided CHARACTER COUNTS! training and support for schools and communities statewide and other in states. The character education program was developed by the Josephson Institute of Ethics and incorporates six pillars of character into positive decision making.

In 2004, Snyder was invited to Joinville, Santa Catarina, Brazil, by the Partners of the Americas to train school personnel to implement the program. According to a study in 2005, the violence index in Brazilian schools was very high and had been growing at an uncontrollable rate. Snyder and a principal trained 80 school and community representatives, and CHARACTER COUNTS! was implemented as a pilot program in local schools. Officials reported positive results such as improved student behavior, a decrease in violence, more respectful behavior, and an increase in the number of parents volunteering.

For the past eight years, in-depth training sessions have been conducted by Snyder and members of the Extension team for more than 1,000 teachers, principals, and community leaders, impacting 70,000 students annually.

The work has expanded to include a Brazil-Virginia Teachers’ Exchange, trainings in additional locations in Brazil, and an agreement with Virginia Tech and the University of Santa Catarina for a student-faculty exchange for academics, extension, and research. Through the work of the Joinville and Virginia Rotary clubs, a $42,000 international matching grant was received to support the efforts.

“Virginia 4-H faculty have developed sustained, highly effective partnerships in Brazil which have enabled them to train teachers and other community leaders working with youth, positively impacting the character education of thousands,” said Cathy Sutphin, associate director of 4-H youth development. “Partners on each side have a deeper cultural understanding and through continued interaction have expanded programming to include a teacher exchange, and an exchange between judicial judges in each country. Our faculty members describe their work in Brazil as life changing.”




Written by Catherine Doss.

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