Erath County family and consumer sciences agent gets Superior Service Award

STEPHENVILLE — Donna White, Texas AgriLife Extension Service family and consumer sciences agent in Erath County, has been awarded one of the agency’s highest honors.

White was recently presented a 2011 Superior Service Award, which is bestowed on AgriLife Extension personnel who demonstrate outstanding performance or provide exceptional service to the agency, an educational outreach entity of the Texas A&M University System, according to award guidelines.

According to government statistics, each year an estimated 76 million people become ill, 325,000 are hospitalized and 5,000 die as a result of foodborne disease. In Erath County, an estimated 18 percent of households are food insecure and there is a need for nutrition education to be targeted for families who live in poverty or are at risk of not having adequate food, stated White’s award nomination.

White was cited for providing the knowledge and instruction needed to bring food safety and nutrition awareness to numerous county residents.

Specified in White’s nomination were her efforts to support food safety education, including the Food Protection Management Course for food service workers, expanding the reach and curriculum development of the Dinner Tonight! program and her support of Better Living for Texans food and nutrition education programming and activities.

In 2010, AgriLife Extension in Erath County provided its clients with 312 hours toward nutrition education. That same year, it presented 11 nutrition programs at Christian Women’s Job Corp, prepared 50 Commodity Cookbooks and 300 newsletters for the county’s food pantry, and held two cooking schools at Grace Place and two nutrition classes for Habitat for Humanity participants.

“Donna played a key role in coordinating and presenting these efforts, which provided county residents with badly needed information and education on food safety and nutrition,” said Susan Ballabina, family and consumer science regional director for the agency’s East region.

White’s award citation also noted her efforts in addressing obesity issues and improving the overall health and wellness of residents of Erath County through multiple programming efforts, including Walk Across Texas, youth and adult classes in nutrition education and “Balancing Food and Play” activities.

“Donna’s programming has had a significant impact on the adults and youth of Erath County,” Ballabina said. “Participants in her programs have learned what types of foods they need to be eating, what foods not to eat, how to keep foods safe and the necessity of physical activity in maintaining a healthy weight.”

White also was cited for her work with the Nutrition Task Force, Family and Consumer Sciences Task Force and partnerships with area schools and teachers.

“Donna is an excellent teacher who never stops moving, creating or developing positive bonds throughout Erath County,” said Dr. Karol Blaylok, Tarleton State University, in her letter of recommendation for White’s award nomination. “She is a very dynamic member of our community who gives back through endless hours of work-related programs for all ages and both genders. Donna represents the best of AgriLife Extension.”

“Donna is an exemplary AgriLife Extension employee, and her dedication, sincerity, knowledge and hard work have earned her this well-deserved 2011 Superior Service Award for a county agent,” Ballabina said.

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