National Extension Diversity Award

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


The purpose of this award is to acknowledge accomplishments of Cooperative Extension Professionals in achieving organizational changes that support diversity, pluralism and innovation in programs that impact our Extension audiences. The Award for Diversity is designed to focus national attention on innovative models and techniques that ensure that Extension programs equitably engage all learning audiences in an effective manner.

History and Description

Beginning in 1991 with the distribution of Pathway to Diversity: Strategic Plan for the Cooperative Extension System’s Emphasis on Diversity, Cooperative Extension forged a new commitment to expanding and reorganizing diversity efforts.

Diversity is defined as differences among people with respect to age, class, ethnicity, gender, physical and mental ability, race, sexual orientation, spiritual practices and other human differences.

Pluralism is defined as an organizational culture that incorporates mutual respect, acceptance, teamwork and productivity among people who are diverse in the dimensions of human differences listed above as diversity.

The Award for Diversity supports efforts that go beyond simply meeting EEO/AA program requirements. Extension efforts should support the creation of a diverse and pluralistic Cooperative Extension organization at locally, regionally, across the state or nation. Such efforts could impact one or more of the following areas: Audience, Administration, Funding, Coalitions, Programs, Policies, Initiative, Staff, Advisory and decision-making groups, and educational materials and delivery methods.


Nominations begin February 1. The due date for nominations to be submitted online is May 1st at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time. The ECOP Program Committee reviews nominations during the months of June and July. All nominated teams and their nominators will know the outcome of the process by the third week of July.

The winner receives a cash award from the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP). A engraved award from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Director is presented during the NIFA/Board on Agricultural Assembly Awards Program at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) Annual Meeting in November. A travel stipend for the winner is typically provided by NIFA. A summary work is released to the media in autumn and published in APLU’s Food and Agricultural Sciences Excellence in College and University Awards Program: A Community of Scholars Honoring Excellence. The winner is expected to submit an impact statements for the database which portrays Land-grant impacts publicly (


An individual Cooperative Extension professional (state, regional and/or county) or a team of professionals from the land-grant universities listed here may be nominated. An Extension professional is defined as having at least 50 percent EFT/FTE university appointment in Extension as of May 1 of the year of nomination. NOTE: Administrative EFT/FTE are not eligible.

Criteria for Nominations

Anyone working for a land-grant university may nominate. Self-nominations are welcome and encouraged. Only electronic submissions will be accepted. Since the program is limited to one award per year, repeat unawarded nominations are encouraged. When writing nominations, special attention should be given to efforts that have the potential to be sustained over time and/or can be replicated in other comparable situations. CLICK HERE for a list of previous recipients.

The following weighted elements are considered in the review process.

  • Purpose: What was the issue addressed by the subject of this nomination/application? How did you determine that this issue was important to address? The nomination clearly describes efforts by a person, group or organization to achieve diversity/pluralism in Extension organizations, programs, and/or audiences. (Maximum 15 points)
  • Basis: What did you do to address the issue? Why is this worthy of recognition? Are actions and activities in support of diversity appropriate and educationally sound? (Maximum 25 points)
  • Positive Impact: Provide measurable evidence that your efforts have led to positive, sustainable programmatic and/or organizational change. (Maximum 30 points)
  • Scope: How broadly has or likely will this effort affect the Cooperative Extension system? Share evidence exists that the scope of impact is broad with observable multi-state or national impact. Quotes by stakeholders are welcome. (Maximum 20 points)
  • Innovation: How did this effort create new models for positive change? Explain how the effort is innovative in its application, methods, or approach in such a way that has led to new ways/models for positive organizational change in achieving diversity and pluralism in organizations, programs, and/or audiences. (Maximum 10 points)

Total Possible Points – 100

Nomination Package

Nominations must not exceed word limits and must contain the following. It is recommended to prepare the following and be ready to cut/paste before browsing to the Online Nomination form:

  1. Name, title, address, phone number and e-mail of the individual or team primary point of contact.
  2. Name, title, address, phone number and e-mail of person making nomination.
  3. A brief citation (30 words or less)
  4. Five narratives explaining criteria given above (400 words or less, each).


Incomplete applications or applications beyond word limits may not be considered. Please do not attempt to forward individual letters of recommendation, videotapes, bound publications, or other supporting materials with the nomination. Only electronic submissions with no attachments will be considered.

Where to Begin

To begin, view and download at Contact Sandy Ruble, Assistant Director, Cooperative Extension/ECOP, at 202.478.6088 or to answer questions. Besides the National Extension Diversity Award, explore the other opportunities at the links provided at the top of this page.