Penn State Extension educators honored for commitment to diversity

Suzanne Weltman, Penn State Extension Educator in Philadelphia and Lower Bucks Counties, and Thomas Ford, Extension Educator in Cambria County, received the College of Agricultural Sciences’ 2015 Dr. William Henson Diversity Achievement Award.

The award is designed to recognize distinctive and outstanding teaching, research, and extension or creative work that advances diversity in the college.  Both were recognized at Penn State Extension’s annual conference on April.

Suzanne Weltman

Suzanne Weltman is an active advocate for bringing Extension programs to multicultural audiences in the Hispanic/Latino community.  Responding to feedback from Dining with Diabetes instructors and participants, she initiated a revision of Spanish Dining with Diabetes materials to ensure accurate translation into dialect, resulting in improved understanding of important diabetes information for clients from Puerto Rico, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Peru. 

A trained culinary professional, Suzanne reaches and provides culinary appropriate recipes and ingredients for educational food demonstrations and sampling sessions.  Suzanne has proven dedication to providing diverse, multicultural Professional Development and Diversity Training learning and experiential opportunities for Nutrition Links Education Advisers and Extension staff.

Marilyn Corbin, Extension Program Leader, comments on her efforts, “Especially informative has been the professional development experiences that she has organized to various ethnic communities and businesses within Philadelphia so that her staff would have a broader understanding of cultures and diversity in the city.”

Thomas Ford

For over 20 years, Tom Ford has excelled in developing knowledge and appreciation of the Anabaptist (Amish, Mennonite) community in his Extension programming efforts.  He is an advocate in the Horticulture State Extension Team to the needs of this culture, and ensures fellow educators are informed of the best methods to reach the Anabaptist community.  He shows understanding of the different values and morals that are important to Amish clients, and assists Extension team members in developing programs that are respectful to those values. 

In 2014, Tom’s efforts resulted in 95 individual farm visits to Anabaptist greenhouse operators, fruit growers and vegetable growers in Mifflin, Juniata, Bedford, Somerset, and Huntingdon Counties. He also publishes and distributes a monthly hard copy newsletter for the Anabaptist growers of horticultural crops.

Janice Stoudnour, District Director, comments on his efforts, “Tom Ford’s programmatic outreach in the Anabaptist communities throughout Central Pennsylvania impacts their production value and economic viability as well as encourages these producers to use good agricultural practices to protect the consumer.”