Published on 10/08/08

D.W. Brooks diversity awards given

By April Sorrow
University of Georgia

A University of Georgia instructor, a federal communications specialist, a UGA Cooperative Extension team and a national student organization were honored for their work and commitments to the improvement of diversity in Georgia at the D.W. Brooks Awards for Excellence ceremony Oct. 7 in Athens, Ga.

Presented by the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the award program honors Gold Kist Inc. founder D.W. Brooks. A CAES alumnus, Brooks advised seven U.S. presidents on agriculture and trade issues. Although he died in 1999, his promotion of agriculture lives on through the awards.

Maria Navarro was given the faculty award for her work in diversity education. She is an assistant professor in the CAES department of agricultural leadership, education and communication. She teaches undergraduate and graduate classes in international agriculture and development, hunger issues and program planning and evaluation.

Navarro works closely with UGA student organizations to eliminate worldwide hunger and poverty. Her research addresses student learning and curriculum change in higher education, communication and extension issues for agricultural and human development around the world. While at UGA, she has participated in development and outreach programs in Mexico, Argentina and Armenia.

For building bridges of unity and understanding between UGA and Athens-Clarke County communities, she was given the 2007 UGA president’s Fulfilling the Dream Award.

Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences won the diversity award for a student organization. MANRRS is a national society that promotes academic and professional advancement by empowering minorities. It welcomes the participation of people from all backgrounds and recruits minority students into agricultural and related science fields.

The UGA MANRRS chapter conducts local food drives and an annual event focused on cleaning the Oconee River.

A family and consumer science team from Colquitt County in south Georgia won the unit diversity award for their work in addressing issues related to poverty and changing demographics in its area.

Led by UGA Extension specialists with the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, the team provides programs that contribute to greater economic stability, safer neighborhoods and affordable housing, as well as leadership development among diverse, ethnic, racial and socioeconomic populations.

For the county’s growing Latino population, the team works closely with local community organizations to provide bilingual education in nutrition, food safety, child development, parenting, home ownership, financial education and leadership development.

The diversity staff award went to Gwen Roland, a communications specialist for the Southern Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program housed at the UGA Griffin campus. SARE is a grant program funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Roland established and maintains a volunteer organization on the campus to encourage understanding and friendship across racial and cultural barriers. The Racial Appreciation Cultural Enrichment lunch group is a monthly brown-bag gathering that allows members to make observations about their own backgrounds, ask questions of others and share information from their different cultural perspectives. The newfound friendships grew into home visits, a folk dance group and a farmers’ market.

(April Sorrow is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

April R. Sorrow is a science writer with the University of Georgia Public Affairs Office.