UMaine Extension’s flagship nutrition education program part of multistate group to receive national excellence award

University of Maine Cooperative Extension professor Kate Yerxa is a member of a multistate team honored with the 2022 National Excellence in Extension award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), and Cooperative Extension. The Agricultural Experiment Station Multistate Research Group was cited for excellence and leadership in performing the work of Extension research, technical assistance, and outreach education. 

The goal of the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program’s (EFNEP) Related Research, Program Evaluation, and Outreach multistate project is to strengthen the evidence base of EFNEP by developing and testing critical and culturally relevant evaluation tools to assess the program’s effectiveness.

“EFNEP is the core of UMaine Extension’s food and nutrition educational outreach, and is aimed at improving the health and food security status of the state’s most vulnerable populations,” said Hannah Carter, associate provost for online and continuing education, and dean of UMaine Extension. “The evaluation tool developed through this multistate collaborative is used by all land grant universities that deliver EFNEP and has improved the rigor of data collection for the program. This team of researchers have established that EFNEP improves the quality of life of participants and the paraprofessional staff who deliver the program.” 

Yerxa, who is also UMaine Extension’s EFNEP coordinator, has led Maine’s participation in this project since its inception in 2008. The team consists of 23 university researchers, practitioners, and graduate students who represent 16 land grant institutions. Team members reflect the diversity of expertise required to address research needs including nutrition, physical activity, education, economics, food safety, public health, sociology and statistics. 

Beverly Durgan, chair of the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy and dean of Extension at the University of Minnesota, congratulated the team and noted that “these leaders are making a difference by connecting community needs and university resources to address critical issues across the nation.”

Contact: Kate Yerxa, 207.581.3109;