Heather Sedges Wallace Receives Early Career Achievement Award from NIFA 

Heather Sedges Wallace, UTIA Family and Consumer Sciences

Heather Sedges Wallace, an assistant professor in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, has received one of two national 2018 Early Career Achievement awards from the Institute of Youth, Family and Community – a division of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). ​ Photo courtesy H. Wallace. Download image​.
 
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – A family life specialist with the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture has been recognized as a leader among her peers.

Heather Sedges Wallace, an assistant professor, human development specialist and certified family life educator in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, has received one of two national 2018 Early Career Achievement awards from the Institute of Youth, Family and Community – a division of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). The award was presented by the National Awards Committee for Family Life Extension Specialists.

Wallace works with Tennessee-based professionals who provide parenting and relationship education in community-based settings. She serves as co-director of the Center for Parenting at UT, which she helped create as a graduate student. In fact, she’s all Vol. Wallace is a three-time graduate of the UT Knoxville Child and Family Studies Department, earning her doctorate in 2010. Her programming expertise and interests also include mental health issues.

An emerging innovator in her field, Wallace pioneered the use of Augmented Reality in educational materials and created the nation’s first — and to date only — comprehensive and research-based curriculum to help people manage technology’s daily influence. Called “Digi_Life,” her work addresses human issues from a systems-based perspective, respecting the influences of culture, socioeconomic status, trauma, community resources and intra-familial support. Digi_Life has already been adopted by teams at Mississippi State and Michigan State Extension.

To date Wallace has received more than $4 million in funding with grant partners including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Tennessee Department of Children’s Services and eXtension. 

“This is a high honor from NIFA,” says Laura Stephenson, assistant dean of UT Extension and head of Family and Consumer Sciences. “We could not be more proud of and pleased for Dr. Wallace. She has made a tremendous impact across the state with her work in Extension to improve the resilience of families and communities.” 

Matt Devereaux, child development specialist and professor in Family and Consumer Sciences, received the same award in 2008. He notes, “In Extension it is unprecedented for a department to have two of the nation’s most recognized professionals in their respective fields actively collaborating."

The Early Career Achievement Award recognizes Extension FCS specialists with six or fewer years of experience. Wallace and Jacquelyn Benson of the University of Missouri were both honored. Also recognized were Barbara Brown of the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service and Charlotte Cross with the University of New Hampshire who each received a Career Impact Award for professionals with 15 or more years of experience as a state Extension specialist. All were honored via a national webinar on February 26. 

Through its mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions. ag.tennessee.edu​.

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Contact:

Heather Wallace, UT Extension Family and Consumer Sciences, 865-974-7193, heather.wallace@utk.edu

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