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Extension Agents Recognize Volunteers, Outstanding Supporter Who Help Make Many Programs Successes

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Hopkins County AgriLife Extension Service Thursday evening recognized a group of people who continue to give of their time and talents to help make the many programs hosted by the local Extension office the successes they continue to be. A few very special awards, including state recognition and the Hopkins County Outstanding Extension Supporter of the Year, were presented at the 2021 Extension Leadership Banquet held Nov. 4, at Hopkins County Civic Center.

Hopkins County AgriLife Extension Agents Johanna Hicks and Mario Villarino with Karl Ebel, William and Christian. The Karl and Kelli Ebel family was named 2021 Outstanding Extension Supporter of the Year Award.

The Extension Service provided a meal, complete with two chocolate chip cookies each, over which this dedicated group of volunteers fellowshipped and were able to enjoy spending time together — some of which were unable to give up their roles as volunteers for the entire meal. At least one made sure everyone in attendance signed in and received a ticket for drawings for door prizes, and helped clear the tables afterward.

The big award of the night, 2021 Hopkins County Outstanding Extension Supporter of the Year, was presented not to an individual but a family. Extension Agent Mario Villarino noted that Karl and Kelli Ebel are not just strong supporters, but are involved in youth and adult programs.

Master Wellness Volunteers and TEA Family and Consumer Sciences award recipients (from left) Joan Brennan, Patsy Neal, Pat Connally, Susie Faltesek, Marjean Allen, Nell Shipp and LaTarra Giles, (not pictured) Wendy Johnson and Kim Sellers, with (back) Extension Agent Johanna Hicks

When Karl Ebel accepted the award on behalf of the family, he noted that Hopkins County is exceptionally blessed to have such a knowledgeable, dynamic Extension team as that of Mario Villarino and Johanna Hicks. In addition to having their names added to the plaque and displayed for years to come, the Extension Agents also presented the Ebels with a wooden engraved token of their appreciation.

Hicks noted that when she accepted a state award for her programs this year, she too received certificates of award for few of the Master Wellness Volunteers’ active involvement in the program. Hicks presented the certificates at the leadership banquet. Joan Brennan, Patsy Neal, Pat Connally and LaTarra Giles were among the volunteers receiving Texas Education Agency Family and Consumer Sciences Innovative Youth Development Programming Awards. Brennan too received an Excellence in Teamwork Award.

The Extension Master Wellness Volunteer Program must complete 40 hours of training to learn knowledge and skills to live healthier lifestyles and ways to encourage others to do the same. They are then asked to give back that many hours of service throughout the year. To recertify, the MWVs are asked to attend the first and last training days of the training, to satisfy the annual 10 hour training requirement, then volunteer a certain number of hours of service annually. Most of the Master Wellness Volunteers have far exceeded the requested service hours, contributing of upwards of 70 hours each. One volunteer logged over 220 hours of volunteer time. The county currently has 11 trained volunteers, who as of Nov. 3, 2201, had logged 824 hours of service, reaching 3,464 individuals, including through the Volunteer Connections Newsletter.

Recognizing for their continued service were Susie Faltesek, Joan Brennan, Pat Connally, LaTarra Giles, Nell Shipp, Patsy Neal, Marjean Allen, Wendy Johnson and Kim Sellers.

Registration for the next Master Wellness Volunteer training opens Nov. 15, 2021. The next session begins in January 2022 and is a hybrid class – the first and last days are in-person, and the the middle sessions are done on-line at the participant’s convenience. The first session will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 18, 2022, with online courses the following weeks, and wrapping with the last session on March 1 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For additional information and session location, contact Hopkins County Extension Agent Johanna Hicks at 903-885-3443.

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Author: Faith Huffman

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