Morado, Storz honored for teaching healthy living
Contacts: Yolanda Scrivner-Morado, 956-487-2306, email@example.com
Barbara Storz, 956-383-1026, firstname.lastname@example.org
WESLACO – Two longtime employees of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service have received awards for their service to the people of the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
Elva A. Yolanda Scrivner-Morado, AgriLife Extension agent for family consumer sciences in Starr County, has received the Award for Distinguished Achievement from the Texas Extension Specialists Association.
Barbara Storz, a horticulturist in Hidalgo County, received the 2011 Texas Health Champion Award presented by the Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living.
“Both Yolanda and Barbara epitomize the mission of AgriLife Extension, which is to improve the lives of Texans with research-based education,” said Dr. Ruben Saldana, an administrator at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Weslaco. “They are legendary among their peers and clientele.”
Morado has been an AgriLife Extension employee for 37 years, having served as a county agent in Jim Hogg, Duval, McMullen and Zapata counties prior to her current position.
The award cited her “excellence in culturally relevant Extension programming that improves health, life quality and economic well-being of Starr County citizens.”
Among the many programs Morado has created and/or administered, Saldana said, are Friend to Friend, a cancer prevention and early detection program; Do Well, Be Well with Diabetes, a 30-year education effort that has helped countless citizens fend off or manage their diabetes via classes, support groups, youth camps and screenings; and Better Living for Texans, a program started by Morado in 1994 to help families plan and prepare nutritious meals on a limited budget.
“Starr County is burdened with a disproportionate share of serious, debilitating diseases and health conditions,” Saldana said. “Fortunately for the community, Yolanda has worked tirelessly to help people cope with or avoid their ravaging effects. Many people of Starr County owe their very lives to her extraordinary efforts.”
Another of Morado’s health-related programs in Starr County, participation in AgriLife Extension’s Walk Across Texas statewide initiative, addresses the area’s high obesity rate.
“She’s rallied the efforts of school officials, dieticians, nurses, coaches, students and parents to combat obesity by improving diets and exercise levels for families,” Saldana said.
Morado also administers Pasos al Mercado, which has helped more than 200 women start their own businesses.
“Yolanda has also gone to great lengths to provide state-mandated continuing education for hundreds of child care providers, which helps improve the lives and education of thousands of children in Starr County,” Saldana said.
“It’s almost impossible to summarize all the good work done by Yolanda over several decades in one of the poorest areas of the nation,” he said. “The needs are overwhelming but Yolanda has never been one to shy away from whatever it takes to help the residents of Starr County.”
The award was presented to Morado in July at the annual meeting of the Texas Association of Family and Consumer Sciences in Fredericksburg.
Storz received her award Sept. 13 after being selected this year’s 2011 Texas Health Champion for her “exemplary efforts to reduce the burden of obesity in Texas.”
In a letter from Donna Nichols, a faculty associate with the Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living, Storz was informed that she would receive the award in conjunction with Texas Obesity Awareness Week in September, an effort by the state legislature to raise awareness of the health risks of obesity and to encourage Texans to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Storz was cited for her efforts to create community gardens that teach children and adults “the importance of quality nutrition at an early age and establish the vital link to healthy food choices for the entire family.”
Nichols noted that more than 11,000 children in Hidalgo and Cameron counties have graduated as Junior Master Gardeners through Storz’s annual Edible Classroom Workshop for Teachers, which she created in 2000. The program uses a curriculum that provides practical, hands-on activities that combine vegetable gardening, health and nutrition, cooking and healthy snacks, and obesity and diabetes awareness.
In 2007, Storz organized Grow’n Growers, a program that provides low-income families with classroom and laboratory instruction in organic gardening and fruit production, health and nutrition, food preparation and food safety, marketing and finance, Nichols wrote.
“She and her students organized the first farmers market in Hidalgo County, providing an avenue for income and a source of local, organically produced fruits and vegetables for the community.”
Some growers now sell to local restaurants in addition to participating in the market, Nicols said.
“Barbara is committed to promoting healthy living in Texas through her horticultural work and has developed innovating partnerships to mobilize communities to prevent and reduce obesity by promoting and facilitating healthy living,” Nichols said.
The award was presented to Storz the Texas Medical Association headquarters in Austin.