The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities has honored a West Virginia University Extension Service health promotion specialist with the 2013 Northeast Region Excellence in Extension Award.

Elaine Bowen, Ed.D., is recognized for work with high-impact programming and partnerships that bring service and learning to the people of the state. She was presented the award in Washington, DC, last weekend during the National APLU Meeting.

The award factors in the educator’s cumulative career; for Bowen, this spans 35 years with WVU Extension Service. Her work ranges from youth programming to senior health initiatives but as varied the topics, WVU Extension’s leaders say they all have one thing in common: results.

“Elaine’s career is with Extension, but her life’s work is truly serving the people of West Virginia,” said Cindy Fitch, WVU Extension Service Families and Health program director. “This award recognizes just a small part of what she does for our state.”

According to Fitch, Bowen’s trademark is her ability to reach a broad segment of the population through research-based, statewide programs that trickle down to the local population.

But, for Bowen, it’s all in a day’s work.

“People know that smoking is bad for your health and that stress contributes to heart problems. It’s not the message that’s new, it’s the approach,” she said.

Bowen’s method is to find creative and fun ways to empower people to make sustainable life changes. Programs like community-based walking groups and healthy lifestyle education classes are built around the concept of local leaders guiding their peers to better health through research-based educational tools.

The award comes as a precursor to the 100th anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act which established Cooperative Extension programming at the state’s land-grant universities, like WVU.

“We have a tried and true tradition of reaching people in need and we’re a state with no shortage of people who need support,” Bowen said. “But, more importantly, we’re a state rallying to help solve problems and my work allows me to be part of the solution.”

Bowen received her bachelor’s degree in home economics education from Virginia Tech. She later received two degrees from WVU: a master’s in family resources and a doctorate in educational leadership.

She is a licensed dietitian and certified family and consumer science professional.

To learn more about Bowen’s work, or to find out how WVU Extension Service provides families and health programming in your community, visit, or contact your local office of the WVU Extension Service.



CONTACT: Cassie Waugh, WVU Extension Service

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