UT Extension Agent Patsy Watkins Honored with International Service Award

Picture of Patsy Watkins accepting award
Patsy Watkins, UT Extension Williamson County, was honored by Epsilon Sigma Phi with the International Service Award for her work with the Tworore Inkoko Tsunguke project. Also pictured is Johnny Barnes, past president of the Tennessee Omega chapter of ESP. 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.

Patsy Watkins, a family and consumer sciences UT Extension agent in Williamson County, has been awarded the Epsilon Sigma Phi International Service Award. This award is available to members of Epsilon Sigma Phi who have contributed significantly to the development or expansion of an Extension program in another country through in-state or overseas work.

Watkins is recognized for her work with the USAID Tworore Inkoko Tsunguke project involving UTIA faculty and staff and 750 Rwandan chicken farmers. Watkins is the first family and consumer sciences agent at UT to be involved in an international project. Bringing the expertise of a family and consumer science agent to this project has opened its applications to include nutrition education to the farmers and their families. 

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​