SAN ANTONIO – Lorrie Coop, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service family and community health agent in Knox County has been named the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, or NEAFCS, Educator of the Year.
The award recognizes a professional Extension family and consumer sciences educator who is conducting outstanding educational programs that demonstrate impact on families, according to the association. Coop received the award at the NEAFCS national conference in San Antonio.
Criteria require the member to have previously received the Distinguished Service Award and Continued Excellence Award from the association and to be involved in continued professional improvement activities and professional organizations.
Coop began her career with AgriLife Extension in 2004 after serving 11 years with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services as a child protective services specialist.
“Lorrie is a catalyst for change,” said Dana Tarter, AgriLife Extension regional program leader for family and community health and 4-H youth development in Vernon. “She is willing to put forth the extra effort to research an issue and engages others in finding positive solutions.
“As an educator, Lorrie is able to develop positive relationships with individuals of all ages and finds interesting ways to help them learn.”
Some of Coop’s achievements outlined in the nomination are:
– Facilitating $311,839 in grant funding to improve accessibility and provide Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant improvements to the AgriLife Extension county office and to provide a safer path along U.S. Highway 82 in Benjamin with the addition of 6-foot sidewalks.
The project links the largest employers in the community, provides safe pedestrian access to all local retailers, government offices, the town’s only grocery store and the school, according to her nomination.
– Provided education to families on proper usage and installation of child safety seats, seat belt safety, bicycle safety and hyperthermia prevention while performing 430 seat inspections and correcting 427 incidences of misuse during 25 check-up events and/or individual appointments.
Because 148 children arrived totally unrestrained and 128 arrived incorrectly restrained only in a seatbelt at those inspections, over 300 free new safety seats were distributed to families in need.
– Initiated and carried through a partnership with Helen Farabee Centers to provide a community youth mental health literacy program to over 300 teachers, community leaders and parents.
– Provided a summer workforce program for 60 high school students through a Parallel Pathways grant; and a comprehensive program to teach leadership skills to citizens and increase civic participation in her rural community.
– Developed and conducted “Dashboard Dining,” a food safety curriculum for over 100 heavy equipment operators, to educate them on proper food handling while working on the side of the road after learning they were packing/consuming lunches without refrigeration or sanitation. This program was shared nationally.
Coop earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Angelo State University and her master’s degree in agriculture science from Texas A&M University-Kingsville.
She has earned numerous other awards with the national and Texas FCS association, as well as from Epsilon Sigma Phi, AgriLife Extension, the National and State Association of Extension 4-H Agents and the Texas Rural Leadership Program.