UMaine Extension’s Savoie honored with Association of Northeast Extension Directors’ 2023 Exceptional Local Educator Award

University of Maine Cooperative Extension educator Kathy Savoie was recently honored with the Association of Northeast Extension Directors’ 2023 Exceptional Local Educator Award.

The highly competitive award is given annually to celebrate a Cooperative Extension educator who provides leadership for the delivery of a program that focuses on the community level, responds directly to local issues or needs, and engages in exceptional program planning and assessment.

Savoie received the award for the program “Building Agricultural Literacy through an Immersive Culinary Art Experience.” Savoie, along with Rob Dumas, food science innovation coordinator at UMaine, created, designed and delivered a program which provides four types of experiential learning for Maine culinary arts instructors and their students. It includes classroom visits to infuse agricultural literacy into mainstream culinary arts curricula, mini-grant funds to support experiential learning and an innovative local food competition. 

Since its inception 18 months ago, the program has already reached 650 learners and 21 culinary arts instructors. Participants in the program increased proficiency in all five National Agricultural Literacy Outcome benchmarks, which help track student progress toward the goal of understanding the source of our food and how agriculture affects our quality of life, by 90%.

The program was developed in response to robust assessment data that highlighted the ways Maine Career Technical Education instructors and their students would benefit from immersive culinary experiences and practices. It is designed to expose teachers and learners to local food systems and deepen understanding of agriculture practices. 

“UMaine Extension is raising the bar for higher education opportunities and I’m glad that Kathy and this innovative program have been recognized by her peers in the Northeast,” says Jason Bolton, associate dean and program administrator at UMaine Extension. “Here at Extension, we’re making a strong commitment to help more teachers and learners achieve credentials of value so they can contribute to, participate in, and benefit from deepening their understanding of agricultural practices and the local Maine food system. We’ve made some big strides over the past several years and I look forward to what we will continue to accomplish in the future.”

Savoie will showcase her programming during the Association of Northeast Extension Directors’ annual awards celebration in early 2024. 

To learn more or connect with the Building Agricultural Literacy through an Immersive Culinary Art Experience program, visit the UMaine Extension website or contact Kathy Savoie,