Penn State Extension educator honored for commitment to diversity

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Marcia Weber, a Penn State Extension family and consumer sciences educator based in York County, has received the College of Agricultural Sciences' 2014 Dr. William Henson Diversity Achievement Award.

The award is designed to recognize distinctive and outstanding teaching, research, extension or creative work that advances diversity in the college. Weber was recognized during an awards ceremony at Penn State Extension's annual conference April 23.

As a colleague and now as Penn State Extension district director, Nina Redding has witnessed Weber's commitment to diversity firsthand. "About 10 years ago, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture had identified a local need for a Chinese-language ServSafe food-safety class for food-service workers in the region," said Redding, who nominated Weber for the award. "Marcia was one of two family and consumer sciences educators who coordinated the first course.

"Several additional Chinese courses were held in the region, and now as a food-safety educator, she is reaching out to the Hispanic community in the area," she said. "The Hispanic community now looks to Penn State Extension as a provider of choice, and she supports an instructor who teaches in Spanish."

That fact is echoed by another nominator, Maria Gorgo-Gourovitch, an extension program associate who has worked with Weber on the Spanish ServSafe courses. "Marcia really cares about the Latino community," she said. "She understands how important it is to reach out to Latinos and give them opportunities to learn and improve their situation."

Nominator Marilyn Corbin, Penn State Extension associate director and program leader for youth, family, food and health, noted that Weber always has appreciated the cross-section of people who live in her community. "She has taught children and youth from diverse backgrounds in the York City public school system and intentionally engaged people from all walks of life in our extension programs," she said.

"She has been proactive to set up extension classes that will benefit the participants so they could learn living-wage skills to be able to enter the work force and support their families."

Corbin and Redding both also cited Weber's efforts to enhance her language skills to better serve under-represented audiences. She recently earned a certificate to teach English as a Second Language, has worked with a local Spanish-language radio station to reach Latino clientele and took an in-depth immersion course in Ecuador, during which she lived with local families and taught lessons to native Spanish speakers to improve her own Spanish-speaking skills.

She also works with the local Hispanic human-service agencies and has successfully recruited Hispanic and black community members to serve on the local Extension Family Living Advisory Committee.

As winner of the 2014 William Henson Diversity Achievement Award, Weber receives a certificate of achievement, recognition on a permanent plaque mounted in the lobby of the Agricultural Administration Building and a $500 award.

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Last Updated April 24, 2014