Individual Excellence in Extension Awards

Co-sponsored by the Cooperative Extension Section’s Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) and USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

Purpose and Overview

The Individual Excellence in Extension Awards are given to Extension professionals who strive in their careers through their local, state, regional, or national responsibilities to achieve the benchmarks reflective of excellence in Extension educational programming. These include, but are not limited to, demonstration of high impact of programs; visionary leadership and anticipation of emerging issues for clientele and the system; commitment to diversity; and integration of programs in partnership with university colleagues and outside clientele. Awardees should be recognized as a leader at their university, in the communities served, and in their respective field of expertise. They should demonstrate the ability to garner a continual flow of resources for sustainable Extension programs and use innovative teaching methods.


Nominations open February 1. For competitive edge, begin process of nomination well before the deadline. The final deadline to submit or modify nominations online is 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time May 1. Nominations may be submitted by a nominee, supervisor, or peer and must have the written endorsement of the nominee’s respective Extension Director or 1890 Land-grant Extension Administrator.

Committees formed by the regional associations describe below will use eligibility and criteria explained on this website to screen and score nominations in the first round.

  1. 1890s Region, AEA – Click here to view the list of 1890 Land-grant institutions
  2. North Central, NCCEA – 1862 Land-grant institutions from IL, IN, IA, KS, MI, MN, MO, NE, ND, OH, SD, WI
  3. Northeast, NEED – 1862 Land-grant institutions from CT, DE, ME, MD, MA, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT, WV, DC
  4. Southern, ASRED – 1862 Land-grant institutions from AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, OK, SC, TN, TX, VA, PR, USVI
  5. Western, WEDA – 1862 Land-grant institutions from AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NV, NM, OR, UT, WA, WY, American Samoa, Guam, Micronesia, Northern Marianas

The second and final round of scoring to select honorees is conducted by the ECOP Professional Development Committee during the months of June and July. All nominees and their nominators will know the outcome of the process by the third week of July. The beginning point of preparing a nomination is found at the links named by region at the bottom of this page.

Who is Eligible?

The nominee must be an active Cooperative Extension System professional (state, regional and/or county) with at least 50 percent EFT/FTE university appointment in Extension as of the deadline of the nomination. The nominee must have responsibility for Extension programming for a minimum of five consecutive years. Administrative EFT/FTE professionals or members of ECOP are not eligible. 

National award recipients are not eligible for renomination. Regional award honorees may be renominated for the national award 3 years or more after receiving the regional award. CLICK HERE to review the list of previous recipients.


Regional – Five awards are granted to regional competitors.

National – One Extension professional selected by ECOP Professional Development Committee the from the pool of the regional award competitors.

The National winner and Regional honorees receive a cash award from the ECOP. Plaques are presented to honorees during the Awards Program at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) Annual Meeting in November. Travel stipends are typically provided by NIFA. Summaries of honoree’s excellent work are released to the national news media and published in the Food and Agricultural Sciences Excellence in College and University Awards Program: A Community of Scholars Honoring Excellence by APLU. Honorees are expected to submit an impact statement for the database which portrays Cooperative Extension national impacts publicly (

Evaluation Criteria

  • Demonstrated high impact of programs, described by the following (500 words or less). Weight – 50%
    • The formal process by which needs that impact the public good were identified (10%)
    • How the educational program was established to meet these needs (20%)
    • Assessment of the program, specifically how the public good indicated by economic, social and/or environmental impact was evaluated (15%)
    • How innovation was used (5%)
  • Recognized excellence in one’s field of expertise as demonstrated by sustained funding and creative partnerships; professional recognition, request for speaking engagements beyond one’s geographic assignment; and development of educational resources, outputs and assessments (500 words or less). Weight – 10%
  • Demonstrated impact regarding engaged scholarship principles, partnerships, funding, and educational program delivery (500 words or less). Weight – 20%
  • Ability to engage university colleagues in Extension programming with evidence of teamwork both within and outside of Extension (500 words or less). Weight – 10%
  • Demonstrated conveyance of cultural sensitivity and appreciation for diversity (500 words or less). Weight – 10%


  • Incomplete nominations or nominations that exceed the word limits may not be reviewed.
  • Normally, no more than two nominations by an institution are considered for this award.
  • Only nominations submitted per the instructions provided by the deadline will be considered.

Where to Begin

Use links below to view/download prep forms according to region.


Please contact Sandy Ruble, Assistant Director, Cooperative Extension/ECOP at 202.478.6088 or if there are questions. Besides the Individual Excellence in Extension Awards, explore the other opportunities at the links provided at the top of this page.