Mary H. White
2005 D.W. Brooks Award for Excellence in Public Service Extension
Mrs. Mary White, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent for Candler County and Emanuel County, has proven herself to be an outstanding, highly respected faculty member on both the state and national levels. Living and working in her service area for more than 30 years, she knows the people, resources, and power structure. This knowledge has helped her develop outstanding projects that have lasting impact on the community.
In May 2003, Mrs. White received a $250,000 Children, Youth and Families-at-Risk (CYFAR) grant from USDA-CSREES. The five-year grant supports the B.O.Y.S. (Building Our Youth’s Skills) Project, a collaborative effort of the Candler County Extension Service-Family and Consumer Sciences, 4-H, Candler County Board of Education, and the Candler Family Connection Collaborative (CFCC). The project’s goals are to ensure students are promoted to the next grade level on time, develop social and behavioral skills, and learn independent living skills. Using the grant as seed money, Mrs. White assembled a team of staff and volunteers to provide after-school enrichment programs. The initial group of students included 34 fourth and fifth grade boys enrolled in the existing school tutoring program. By 2005, the group had grown to include 45 fifth through seventh grade boys. Through the B.O.Y.S. program, students have statistically improved their school grades, study habits and behavior.
Over the past 10 years, Mrs. White facilitated and taught more than 500 hours of parenting education to at-risk families and teen parents. In addition, she authored 24 Tips for Parents pamphlets which are available nationwide through the Extension Web site. She also teaches and facilitates more than 30 hours of childcare training each year. Her efforts have doubled the number of licensed caregivers in Candler County and led to the certification of more than 500 area childcare providers. She also led the revision of the Eating Right home study making it available to childcare providers who need food and nutrition licensing hours.
On the college level, she has positioned the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension as the organization to include on many councils and committees. As one of the founding board members of the CCFC, she helped link the resources of the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences to the collaboration’s goals. As an advisory board member for one of the local banks, Mrs. White convinced local leaders to integrate the growing Hispanic population into the day-to-day activities of the community. CFCC now offers parenting classes for Hispanics and Spanish/English food and nutrition videos now play daily at DFCS and Health Department offices. She also actively sought bi-lingual candidates for the College of Family and Consumer Sciences Consumer Financial Literacy (CFL) Program assistant position. She was instrumental in linking the CFL Program and First National Bank and Trust to develop and open the Primer Banco National in Metter. With the help of the CFL Program assistant, the bank hired and trained two Hispanic tellers and hosted Extension CFL led classes in money management for local Hispanic residents.
Mrs. White also became the Georgia AARP instructor and trained Georgia FACS agents, as well as other agents and AARP volunteers in the southeastern states, to deliver the “Women’s Financial Information Program” curriculum. Now more than 500 women state-wide are more skilled and confident in handling their finances.
To reach the at-risk population in her counties, Mrs. White focuses more than 40 percent of her programs on the topics of low-income, poor parenting, lack of school success and health-related categories. As a result, she has been nationally recognized for programs that develop youth potential and improve the lives of at-risk families and consumers. Over the past ten years, she has made more than 50 presentations at national, state, and regional activities including the Prevent Child Abuse Georgia Conference, the National Association of Extension Family and Consumer Sciences Conference, and National Children, Youth and Families-at-Risk Conferences. She has received statewide recognition for leading the Emanuel County Fitness Challenge, a six-week walking program that has attracted more than 700 adults and teens. She also developed and teaches a yearly nutrition and health series, “Get a Head Start on Nutrition,” for all pre-school students in Candler and Emanuel Counties.
Mrs. White’s accolades include being awarded the 2002 College of Family and Consumer Sciences Outreach Award and being selected as the 2001 CAES nominee for the Jimmy Carter Partnership for Campus-Community Collaboration. She has also been nominated for the Walter B. Hill Award three times. In addition, Mrs. White has received the highest awards for professional development from both the national Extension Family and Consumer Sciences and national and state 4-H agents associations. She has served on national committees and as state president of the Extension FACS Association. She currently serves on the Extension Reporting System (GA Counts) Evaluation Team and the Extension Legislative Communication Task Force.