Friend of NEAFCS Award

Initiated in 2005, the annual Friend of NEAFCS Award is the highest honor bestowed by the Association in recognition of an individual or organization who has made significant contributions to Extension Family and Consumer Science education programs.

Friend of NEAFCS Recipients

2021 - Mark Mayhew

Mark is the husband of past president Theresa Mayhew (Omaha, NE, 2017). If he was a member of NEAFCS, he would have attended enough Annual Sessions to be eligible for a position on the Board.

He has enjoyed attending these sessions and helping out where needed. This has included carting supplies to meeting rooms; moving, placing, and delivering silent auction items; setting up stage and table decorations; staffing the NEAFCS Merchandise Table; and many other behind-the-scenes activities.

Mark has a 10-Year 4-H Membership Pin. In high school, he was a member of Key Club, a youth outreach program of Kiwanis. He received both his bachelor’s and his master’s degrees from the State University College at Potsdam, NY. He has been employed by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) for 27 years where he oversaw their Small Wind Turbine Incentive Program. He was a founding member of an organization whose goal was to bring together State program managers who ran similar programs from around country to learn from each other (sound familiar?). He received the Wind Advocate Award at the National Small Wind Conference, the State Leadership in Clean Energy Award from the Clean Energy States Alliance, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Small Wind Industry Trade Association. He also received a Peer Award from NYSERDA.

Mark met Terri when they were both members of the Junior Chamber of Commerce (aka: The Jaycees). One line from the Jaycee Creed is, “Service to humanity is the best work of life.”

Mark has spent a lifetime (well, not yet) helping others. He is there to provide a helping hand, to help others feel better, and to do the little things that never get noticed. In essence, being a friend. He would like to thank you for considering him your friend. 

2020 - Bob Ohlensehlen

Bob Ohlensehlen received a B.S. and M.S. Degree from the University of Idaho.  He began his career as a high school Vocational Agriculture Instructor.  His Extension career began as a County Agricultural and 4-H Educator.  In that role he served two counties in Idaho as the lead Educator as well as serving as an Interim District Director during his career.  Bob received several state and national awards for his work in agriculture, community development and 4-H.  After retiring in 2005 he was honored by his clientele by being inducted into the Southern Idaho Livestock Hall of Fame. 

After retiring Bob and one of his former students started a livestock consulting business that he continues today.  In 2009 Bob had the opportunity to serve as the Executive Director for Epsilon Sigma Phi which is an Extension Honorary and Professional Development organization.  Bob had served as president of this national organization in 2003-2004.  He was able to continue his affiliation with Extension professionals in this capacity until 2018 when he chose to retire from the ESP position.

In 2012 the Joint Council of Extension Professionals made the decision to hire an Executive Director and Bob was chosen to serve as the first Executive Director for JCEP, a position he currently holds.  In this position he works with Extension Professionals to provide professional development opportunities for Extension educators across all disciplines.  Bob provided leadership and technical support to move the Public Issues Leadership Development Conference from a face-to-face conference to a two day virtual conference when the face-to-face conference had to be cancelled. 

Most recently Bob assisted the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) in moving their annual conference from a face-to-face conference to a two-day virtual conference.  The conference was a success with 675 participants and the 36 breakout presentations being recorded and posted on the AAFCS website.  

Bob has always believed that Extension was not just a job but a way of life.  Helping people find a better way of life is most rewarding. 

2019 - Syble Solomon

Syble Solomon was awarded the Friend of NEAFCS on September 30, 2019 during the 2019 NEAFCS Annual Session.

Syble Solomon is the creator of the money personality profile called Money Habitudes and she is a popular speaker on the psychology of money. 

Her unusual career path includes:

  • being a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Philippines
  • a child development specialist working with families, educators and medical staff with infants and preschoolers with special needs
  • teaching at four universities as an adjunct professor and
  • working with corporate and non-profit leaders as an executive coach with one of the top leadership training organizations in the world 
In each case, her mission has always been to empower people to discover how they can make today and every day special and take responsibility for creating the future they aspire to have for themselves and their loved ones. 

Recognition has included:
  • Educator of the Year by the Association of Financial Counseling and Planning Education (AFCPE) where she also served on the board for multiple terms.
  • Outstanding Contributor for the financial education of youth by the North Carolina Jump$tart Coalition
  • Honored with the Impact Award from the Smart Marriages Conference.
  • Washington Post featured Money Habitudes as the financial selection of the month
  • Quoted in more than 100 popular and professional publications including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, US News and World Report and Morningstar.

Money Habitudes have been used by hundreds of thousands of youth and adults throughout the United States and internationally. Syble has been the featured speaker at university and JumpStart events, the NFL, international professional women’s conferences, independent financial advisors in Australia, couples events and national conferences for nonprofit organizations working to create financial stability and growth for individuals and families who are struggling financially.

She hoped that this simple tool would start conversations about money and provide people with insights to help them manage their money better.  It came as a complete surprise to her when people would tell her playing Money Habitudes literally changed their lives, saved their marriage and gave them a new perspective so they finally could manage their money successfully.

2018 - Dr. Douglas Steele

Dr. Steele was awarded the Friend of NEAFCS on September 24, 2018 during the 2018 NEAFCS Annual Session. 

Dr. Douglas Steele is well known to many of us through his work supporting Extension across the United States.  While serving as Director of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Dr. Steele was an enthusiastic champion for Family and Consumer Sciences.  When Dr. Steele arrived in Texas in 2012, he made health a priority for FCS agents.  His support for health was shown in the development of Healthy South Texas, which is a partnership between Extension and Texas A&M Health Science Center to lead a comprehensive effort to reduce preventable diseases and their consequences in Texas.  During Dr. Steele’s tenure, Family and Consumer Science agents were transitioned to Family and Community Health agents to reflect the importance of health.

Dr. Douglas L. Steele recently accepted the position of Vice President for Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources with the Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities effective January 2, 2019.  He currently serves as director of International Extension Programs for the Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture at Texas A&M AgriLife.  Previously Dr. Steele was director of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service from 2012-2018. In his role as director of Extension he was not only an enthusiastic champion for Family and Consumer Sciences, but also an advocate on the state, regional and national levels for the mission and vision of the professional associations.

Prior to his current appointment he was vice president for external relations and director of Extension for Montana State University and formerly held Extension positions at Colorado State University and Purdue University.

He is a past chair of the national Extension Committee on Organization and Policy, which works on vital issues of federal funding and national system initiatives and co-chair of the national Marketing and Communications Committee and chair of the National 4-H Congress Board of Directors. Dr. Steele holds a doctoral degree in educational human resource development from Texas A&M University. 

Dr. Steele is a firm believer in the power of Extension to transform families and communities.  He stands with our NEAFCS membership in words from our creed to accept the opportunity to empower individuals, families, and communities to meet their needs and goals through a learning partnership and willingness to accept the challenges of the changing times.

2017 - Beverly Samuel

Beverly Samuel provides National Program Leadership for USDA’s National Institute for Food & Agriculture (NIFA) Housing and Environmental Health’s sustainable housing initiatives that support healthy, safe and affordable housing; energy efficiency; disaster preparedness, response and recovery; and community living/engagement. She serves as the team leader for Family Well-Being in the Division of Family & Consumer Sciences, focusing on financial capability, healthy family development, and home and community living. 

Beverly co-chairs the State Energy Extension Partnership which promotes the adoption of energy efficiency and renewable energy in the United States. She serves as the NIFA Liaison to the eXtension Home Energy Community of Practice (CoP) and the eXtension CoP on Volunteer Administration. She serves on the President’s Task Force on Environmental Health Risks to Children, the Federal Interagency Committee on Indoor Air Quality, the Federal Healthy Homes Work Group, the Coalition of Organizations for Disaster Education, and the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) Executive Board. Beverly also oversees the Master Family & Consumer Sciences Volunteer Program.

Prior to her career at USDA, Beverly was a Senior Extension Educator with Virginia Cooperative Extension for over 25 years. She also taught at State University College at Buffalo, NY. She has received both the Distinguished Service Award and Continuing Excellence Award from NEAFCS, a Commendation from the Virginia Senate, and recognition from the Governor of Virginia for outstanding community programming addressing critical issues. She has an M.S. in Housing, Interior Design & Resource Management from Virginia Tech, and a B.S. in Home Economics Education from Georgia College.

Congratulations to Beverly Samuel, our 2017 Friend of NEAFCS award winner!

2016 - Sharon Hoelscher Day

Sharon Hoelscher Day was honored on Thursday, September 15 at the NEAFCS Annual Session Awards Ceremony in Big Sky, Montana for her leadership to create the NEAFCS Endowment. In recognition of this accomplishment she received the Friend of NEAFCS award, the most prestigious award given by NEAFCS. Sharon was NEAFCS President 2003-2004 and prior to that she served as Vice President for Public Policy. She also served as national president of the Joint Council of Extension Professionals.

Day received her BS from the Ohio State University and MA from Michigan State University. She is Emerita Extension Faculty, University of Arizona Cooperative Extension where she developed Bone Builders, an osteoporosis prevention program, and other healthy lifestyle outreach programs. Sharon was primary investigator or co-PI in more than $3.4 million of program grants.

Sharon Hoelscher Day just completed work on a national Nutrition and Wellness Educator Certification project for the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences. The new Certification is now available through AAFCS.

Other honors Day has received are the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences’ Leader Award, the 2008 NEAFCS Extension Educator of the Year Award, and 2004 Extension Faculty of the Year by the University of Arizona. Sharon was the 2010-11 AAFCS Chalkley-Fenn Public Policy Scholar.

Sharon and her husband, Dan, live in northern Nevada near Lake Tahoe where they are active in their church and community. She serves on the Board of the Carson Valley Arts Council and in charge of their concert series and events. Sharon was named 2015 CVAC Volunteer of the Year.

Congratulations to Sharon Hoelscher Day, our 2016 Friend of NEAFCS award winner!

2015 - Bill Viar

Bill Viar is Director of the American Income Life Insurance Company Special Risk Division where he has just concluded his 21st year with the company.  In his capacity with AIL, Viar has worked with thousands of extension professionals and volunteer leaders providing coverage for clubs, camps, fairs, and other special events sponsored at the national, regional, state, and county level.  His industry experience includes 24 years in various insurance underwriting and marketing positions as well as attaining the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter Designation (CPCU).  He serves on the board of the Central Indiana CPCU Society and has also been a member of various local 4-H and camp association boards.   Personal recognition includes receiving State Friend of Extension Awards from the Indiana Extension Educators Association and the Purdue Chapter of Epsilon Sigma Phi.  American Income Life Insurance Company has also been recognized as a National Partner in 4-H.

During Viar’s tenure at AIL, over $300,000.00 has been donated to extension professional associations and national and regional events sponsored by extension.

Bill is a 1984 graduate of Liberty University and resides in Indianapolis with Terri, his wife, and two daughters.

2014 - Nancy Becker

Nancy has been a Home Economist with National Presto Industries for 20 years, and for the past 12 years has managed the Test Kitchen.  In her position she performs several different functions but the one that delights her the most is that of food preservation specialist. Annual Session attendees throughout the years have interacted with Nancy during the Exhibit segment of our conference and experienced and appreciated her expertise in the food preservation area. She has a unique partnership with Extension Educators to make sure that her customers and our clients receive correct information so they can be safe and feel confident when canning at home. Nancy received her Bachelor of Science degree in Home Economics at South Dakota State University and Masters Degree at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.   She is a Registered Dietitian.   National Presto Industries has their headquarters in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. 

2013 - Home Baking Association

The Home Baking Association (HBA) is a valuable resource for educators, parents, community service volunteers, scratch-bakers and anyone else interested in baking. It provides recipes, activities, lesson plans and other valuable resources that help you at home in the kitchen, or in the classroom. The Home Baking Association (HBA) mission of “growing the practice of home baking” could not be more timely due to economic conditions and other societal changes. The fact is more meals are being prepared at home, and this organization is at the forefront in sharing our tools and knowledge to not only current bakers, but future generations as well. In recent years more people learned about HBA than ever before, keeping the momentum of this non-profit organization going strong.

2012 — Caroline Crocoll

Caroline E. Crocoll is the Division Director, Division of Family and Consumer Sciences, USDA/NIFA.  She is responsible for providing national leadership for and supervision of critical tasks involving Family and Consumer Sciences staff, program development and collaboration; identifying mission-relevant issues requiring Federal attention and support; conceiving and executing Family and Consumer Sciences programs to respond to existing or emerging opportunities, priorities, and issues; and evaluating the impacts of these programs.

2011 — Nancy Bock

Nancy Bock is the Senior Vice President of Meetings and Education at the American Cleaning Institute® (ACI). She is a recognized leader in consumer education and family and consumer sciences. Her 30 years of experience has been dedicated to designing educational programs, materials and campaigns to help improve the lives of individuals and families.

2010 — Linda Kay Benning

Linda Kay Benning is well known for her work as the Associate Director for Extension and Outreach at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. Linda also serves half time as the Executive Director of the Northeast Cooperative Extension Directors. Before these positions she served as a legislative assistant in the U.S. Senate. The focus for her work includes education from to post-secondary, agriculture, environment, energy and welfare. Linda was an Extension Agent for over seven years with the South Dakota State University Cooperative Extension Service, including three on the Cheyenne River Indiana Reservation. Additionally, she spent over ten years as a high school teacher in San Jose, California. Linda has a Master's of Arts in Education from Sonoma State University and an undergraduate degree in Home Economics from San Jose State University. Linda is a South Dakota 4-H alumnus and attributes much of her abilities to life skills gained through 4-H club membership. NEAFCS thanks Linda Kay Benning for her years of service to the Extension profession and JCEP organizations.

2009 — Dr. Anna-Mae Kobbe

Dr. Ann-Mae Kobbe is well known for her work in the Land-Grant University System. She began her career with University of Missouri Extension and served as NEAFCS President during 1984-85. Dr. Kobbe joined the federal staff at the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Services where she oversaw staff and numerous programs as the official liaison from the CSREES Families, 4-H, and Nutrition Unit to NEAFCS. She retired from USDA/CSREES in 2006.

2008 — Jeanne M. Priester

Jeanne M. Priester is a former national program leader, Home Economics and Nutrition and Alabama Extension State Specialist whose impact continues today. The annual Priester National Extension Health Conference and the Priester Health award remain ongoing tributes to her work.

2007 — Tawnia True, Procter & Gamble's External Relations Manager, Kentucky

Provided leadership and support of P&G's many years of exhibiting and sponsorship for Annual Sessions, in addition to educational materials and community and international initiatives.

2006 — Dr. Elizabeth Gregory, Texas A&M University Cooperative Extension

Led the creation of the Living Well logo and slogan, along with extensive marketing, communications and training materials

2005 — Senator Charles Grassley, Iowa

Sponsored U.S. Senate resolution proclaiming the second full week of March each year as Extension Living Well Week