USDA, Cooperative Extension, Honor N.C. A&T Extension Specialist

11/10/2021 College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (Nov. 10, 2021) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Cooperative Extension, and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) have named North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University’s Michelle Eley, Ph.D., the winner of this year’s Award for Excellence for 1890 land-grant institutions.

USDA-NIFA and Cooperative Extension have sponsored the awards since 1991. The 2021 awards were presented Nov. 9.michelle-eley-grassroots-2017_0176.jpeg

Eley, community and economic development specialist with Cooperative Extension at N.C. A&T, develops, implements and evaluates programs aimed at strengthening rural, underserved communities that are challenged by poverty, a lack of community services, and limited access to information on how to build the capacity of their farms and communities. Eley has secured more than $2 million in external funding to support her programs and expand the reach of Extension at N.C. A&T in underserved communities. Her most recent funded project is Youth Stepping Forward. Funded through the National 4-H Council, the program teaches youth in seven underserved counties skills in decision making and problem solving so they can address the issues facing their communities. She also manages a program funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation where she works with grassroots organizations on efforts to increase access to local foods and address inequities in the food system.

“Congratulations to the outstanding professionals who will be honored on November 9th,” said Wendy Powers, Ph.D., chair of the APLU’s Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) and associate vice president of the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “They are leading the way in communicating trusted science to the latest generation of learners and problem-solvers in communities across the nation.”

Eley is a member of a national team of Extension professionals who participate in the program Coming Together for Racial Understanding, which will receive the 2021 National Extension Diversity Award. The team includes Extension professionals from 22 land-grant universities and other organizations in 17 states. The national team prepares and supports state teams so they can lead dialogues on racial issues in their states. Extension at N.C. A&T has been a strong supporter of the program. Eley is part of the North Carolina Extension train-the-trainer team, which has trained 43 Extension staff and six community-based leaders in 23 counties as facilitators who lead local community dialogues on racial issues.

“Extension has given me the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of so many people,” said Eley, who has worked for Extension at A&T for 17 years. “I’m thrilled to accept this award and represent the outstanding work being done at 1890 Region institutions. I’m also thankful to the partners, agents, specialists, and community members who have worked with me over the years.”

1890 land-grant institutions are historically black institutions that were established under the second Morrill Act of 1890. N.C. A&T is the largest of the 19 historically black land-grant institutions.

Media Contact Information: jmhowse@ncat.edu

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