Distinguished Team Award Given to UT Extension Agents​

Picture of Allisen Penn and team members receiving award
The Distinguished Team Award was given to UT Extension agents who helped develop the program "Behind the Scenes." From left to right, Vicki Lofty, UT Extension Marion County; Amanda Woody, UT Extension Pickett County; Brent Smith, UT Extension Grundy County; Allisen Penn, UT Extension Central Region program leader; Jamie Harris, UT Extension Central Region area specialist; and Mary Beth Henley, UT Extension Franklin County. Image courtesy UTIA. Download image​

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture faculty members have been recognized with six awards for their commitment to Extension and outreach work across Tennessee. The honors are given by Epsilon Sigma Phi (ESP), a national organization that includes thousands of Extension professionals from land-grant universities across the country. Tennessee Extension professionals were recognized in six of 12 categories across the South.

“These awards really highlight the incredible talent and leadership of UT Extension agents, specialists and professors,” says Michele Atkins, Tennessee ESP Omega Chapter president. “We submitted entries in nine categories, and won six of those. That’s an impressive number,” continues Shelly Barnes, awards and recognition chair for the chapter.

A team of UT Extension agents have been honored with the Epsilon Sigma Phi Distinguished Team Award. This award recognizes outstanding efforts of Extension staff teams of two or more individuals for responding to and incorporating into a specific educational program one or more critical issues. Critical issues may be defined by local, regional, state or national need.

The UT Extension team won this award for their efforts in the Family and Consumer Sciences “Behind the Scenes” experience for senior high 4-H youth who are interested in family and consumer sciences projects. The experience exposes youth to FCS careers on various levels, creates support for the FCS field through exposure and education, and provides an FCS-related educational experience for students. Over the past five years, 95 senior high youth have participated in the experience and four of those have enrolled in or graduated from a family and consumer sciences degree program.

According to Allisen Penn, team leader, “The camp focuses on introducing youth to family and consumer sciences degrees in food and nutrition, health, clothing and textiles, and interior design. We are honored to receive this award.”

The UT Extension Distinguished Team consists of Vicki Lofty (UT Extension Marion County), Amanda Woody (UT Extension Pickett County), Brent Smith (UT Extension Grundy County), Carla Bush (UT Extension Rutherford County), Hilda Lytle (UT Extension Warren County), Lindsey Harrison (UT Extension Davidson County), Lynne Knight (UT Extension Lake County), Mary Beth Antunes (UT Extension Williamson County), Mary Beth Henley (UT Extension Franklin County), Mary Draper (UT Extension Smith County), Michelle Matthews (UT Extension Coffee County), Michelle Parrott (UT Extension Putnam County), Raquel Victor (UT Extension Rutherford County), Starla Hardin (UT Extension Maury County), Tracey Hackett (UT Extension White County), Jamie Harris (UT Extension Central Region), and Allisen Penn (UT Extension Central Region).​ 

The full list of UT Extension award winners are listed below:

Continued Excellence Award – Janie Burney, professor and nutrition specialist

Administrative Leadership Award – David Perrin, Eastern Region director

Visionary Leadership Award – John Toman, Extension evaluation and staff development specialist

International Service Award – Patsy Watkins, UT Extension Williamson County

Diversity Multicultural Team Award – Kane Reeves, UT-TSU Extension Madison County, and Sharon Tubbs, UT Extension Madison County

Distinguished Team Award – Allisen Penn, Central Region program leader, team leader​

Full descriptions of the award categories and a comprehensive list of winners nationwide is available at the Epsilon Sigma Phi website.

When asked about the success of UT Extension, UTIA Chancellor Tim Cross credits dedicated people and partnerships. “UT Extension has more than a 100-year history of advancing Tennessee, thanks to exceptional county financial support, dedicated employees and volunteers, and a strong partnership with our 1890 institution - Tennessee State University,” he says. “Long-term successful state programs tend to result in professionals who are heavily engaged in associations like Epsilon Sigma Phi.”

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.



Beth Hall Davis, UTIA Marketing and Communications, 865-974-7141, bethdavis@tennessee.edu