National Team Excellence in Extension 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)

Purpose and Overview

The National Excellence in Extension Team Award recognizes a team of 3 or more people, comprised of at least 1 state, county, or regional Extension professional. Formed by 2 or more Land-grant Universities, the team works to advance Extension’s research, technical assistance, and outreach education mission and demonstrate accomplishments and evidence of impact within the last 3 years. Excellence is measured by the weighted criteria explained below and how local delivery of Cooperative Extension programming has improved. Innovative partnerships across 1862, 1890, and 1994 Land-grant Universities, and their missions – Extension, research, and teaching, and Cooperative Extension’s programmatic disciplines is encouraged. A team’s approach, impacts, and successes to collaboration, sharing, partnership, and mobilizing multi-institutional response across states, territories, or multiple jurisdictions, are all key determinates of excellence.


Nominations open February 1. For competitive edge, begin process of nominating a team well before the deadline. The final deadline to submit or modify nominations online is 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time May 1. Nominations must be submitted by the Cooperative Extension professional primary point of contact for the team and must be accompanied by the written endorsement of the nominee’s respective Extension Director(s) or 1890 Land-grant Extension Administrator(s).

Committees formed by the regional associations described 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 the winning national team is conducted by the ECOP Professional Development Committee 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 single winning team receives a cash award from the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP). A plaque from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Director is presented to a team’s spokesperson 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 spokesperson is typically provided by NIFA. A summary of team’s excellent work is released to the media in autumn and published in the APLU’s Food and Agricultural Sciences Excellence in College and University Awards Program: A Community of Scholars Honoring Excellence with a team image or logo. Members of the team are expected to submit an impact statements for the database which portrays Land-grant impacts publicly (


  • The team must include three or more people.
  • At least one team member 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. Persons with administrative EFT/FTE and members of ECOP may not be members of the nominated team.
  • The team must integrate two or more of the Land-grant mission areas; Extension plus applied research and/or teaching/instruction.
  • Individual team members may have already received awards through the National Extension Awards program. Winning teams are required to wait three years before being considered for another team award. CLICK HERE to review the list of previous recipients.


  • Incomplete online applications or applications in excess of the word limits may not be reviewed.
  • Only nominations submitted per the instructions provided by the deadline of May 1 will be considered for National Award review.

Award Evaluation Criteria

  1. Explain the justification of need. Weight -15 %
    • The formal process by which needs of the program were identified.
    • How the team effort was established/structured to meet these needs.
  2. Describe activities conducted within the past 3 years to meet the identified needs and evidence of excellence related to those activities. Activities may include, but are not limited to, development of webinars, learning circles, online programs and resources, and appropriate publication of scholarly work, including journal articles, electronic fact sheets, and newsletters. Evidence of excellence may include, but is not limited to, adoption of the team’s program or activities by counties/states/institutions beyond those of the nominated team’s members, development of sustained external funding, receipt of awards, recognition, and/or requests for regional/state/national addresses and speaking engagements.  Weight – 15%
  3. Document high impact on intended audience at community or individual scale in the interest of the public good, including assessment of the program indicated by economic, social, and/or environmental impact.  Weight – 20%
  4. Share team innovation regarding partnerships established, funding acquired, and educational program delivery. Weight – 20%
  5. Share evidence of how this team collaboration has led to success beyond what could be accomplished individually, including ability to integrate research and/or teaching colleagues in Extension programming. Evidence that the work is sustainable and will continue beyond the initial efforts. How the contributions of the team and its partnerships have enhanced the Extension response to a problem (e.g., impact of having a team and the collaboration).  Weight – 20%
  6. Share conveyance of cultural sensitivity and appreciation for diversity. Weight – 10%

Where to Begin

View/Download the nomination prep form here.


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