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Top public service and outreach honors awarded

By Amanda Swennes
University of Georgia

The University of Georgia Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach bestowed awards for excellence in public service to seven faculty and two staff members at the 17th annual Public Service and Outreach meeting and awards luncheon on Thursday, Feb. 14.

Distinguished Public Service Fellow

The Walter Barnard Hill Distinguished Public Service Fellow, UGA’s highest award in public service and outreach, recognizes sustained, distinguished and superb achievement in university public service that improves quality of life in Georgia or elsewhere. The Hill Fellow is named in honor of Chancellor Walter Barnard Hill, who led the University of Georgia from 1899 until his death in 1905 and first articulated the university’s modern land-grant mission.

This year’s Hill Fellow is Judy A. Harrison, a foods and nutrition professor and extension foods specialist who has educated people in Georgia and across the United States about food safety and preservation for more than 15 years. Programs Harrison has developed, especially the Smart Kids Fight BAC!® series, have become nationally-recognized educational tools about food-borne illness prevention. She is also at the forefront of current efforts to keep America’s food supply safe, especially produce.

Hill Awards for Distinguished Achievement

Up to five Walter Barnard Hill Awards for Distinguished Achievement in University Public Service and Outreach are presented annually to recognize UGA faculty members and service professionals who have made outstanding contributions that improve the quality of life in Georgia or elsewhere.

This year’s Hill Award recipients are Gail M. Hanula, Family and Consumer Sciences; John A. O’Looney, Carl Vinson Institute of Government; Paul E. Sumner, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences; Paul F. Vendrell, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences; and Jeanna Wilson, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Hanula, a nutrition educator in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, helps design and implement programs that promote healthy lifestyles, provide foods and nutrition education to youth, and offer health education for families.

O’Looney, a senior public service associate at the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, has served the university for more than 20 years and has helped local governments in Georgia and across the country improve their operating functions to better serve their citizens. He is a nationally-regarded expert in human services, e-government, and local and state government management and decision-making.

Sumner, a biological and agricultural engineer, has served farmers in Georgia and the Southeast for more than 25 years. He works directly with farmers, county agents and equipment manufacturers to develop and modify products to increase crop production and decrease environmental contamination. His work on safer, more efficient fertilizer and pesticide application techniques and on tobacco curing and storage has saved farmers millions of dollars.

Vendrell, a program coordinator for UGA’s Extension Feed and Environmental Water Laboratory, has developed innovative methods and educational materials to improve drinking water safety and forage quality. His programs have had statewide impact on human health as well as home and farm economics.

Wilson, a professor of poultry science, has a national and international reputation in broiler breeder management. Her work on improving breeder fertility alone is estimated to save Georgia poultry breeders more than $6 million annually.

Scholarship of Engagement Award

The Scholarship of Engagement Award is a new campus-wide award that honors a tenured associate or full professor whose scholarship has made significant contributions toward identifying or addressing issues of public concern and whose work advances civic engagement through scholarship and service-learning opportunities for students.

The recipient of the inaugural Scholarship of Engagement Award is William S. Kisaalita, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Kisaalita, a biological and agricultural engineering professor and graduate coordinator, is a founding member of UGA’s Faculty of Engineering. He has merged his research interests in biological and agricultural engineering with his commitment to actively encourage students to apply what they learn in the classroom to real-world problems.

Staff Award for Excellence

For the third year, the Public Service and Outreach Staff Award for Excellence celebrated the achievements of public service staff who have demonstrated outstanding effort, workplace creativity and innovation.

The 2008 recipients are Anne Shenk, State Botanical Garden of Georgia, and Kitty Shollenberger, Carl Vinson Institute of Government.

Shenk, director of education at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, develops and directs environmental education programs for diverse audiences, including on-site field studies, nature camps for children, environmental education courses for teachers, family festivals, adult workshops and other science-based conservation initiatives about the importance of the environment, biodiversity and conservation.

Shollenberger has provided exemplary service to the University of Georgia and to Georgia’s citizens for 30 years, first at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education, where she managed the booking office and coordinated all of the university president’s meetings, luncheons and conferences, and most recently at the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, where she serves as a program coordinator in the Local Government Training Programs unit.

(Amanda Swennes is a public relations specialist with the University of Georgia Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach. Kathleen Cason and Claudia Caycho also contributed to this article.)

(Amanda Swennes is a publications editor for the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

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