The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Division of Family and Consumer Sciences honored Jane Riffe, Ed.D., West Virginia University Extension specialist, with its Early Career Achievement Award for Family Life Specialists.

The national award is given annually to an Extension specialist who has made a significant impact during the first six years in their position. Since beginning at WVU Extension in 2008, Riffe’s educational programs have helped people manage stress, cope with divorce, and build healthier couple and parent-child relationships.

“Dr. Riffe has provided leadership for educational programs throughout the state that have helped West Virginia families become stronger and more resilient,” Cindy Fitch, WVU Extension Service Families and Health program director, said.

Riffe was previously in private clinical practice specializing in couple therapy and the management of anxiety and depression. Now, she uses this firsthand knowledge to create research-based, skill building programs for better emotional and relationship health. These programs are taught throughout West Virginia by WVU Extension faculty and community partners.

Highlights of Riffe’s programs include directing WVU Extension’s Healthy Families/Healthy Children initiative, which trained and certified community educators to teach workshops in relationships, marriage, parenting and financial education.

She authored the curriculum for WV Parenting Apart, which is used throughout the state in a mandated class for parents who are divorcing. She has also co-written Stress Less with Mindfulness, a series of five classes designed to improve resilience in responding to stress and raise awareness of help for seasonal affective disorder. She typically spreads these programs by training others to teach to their local audiences.

“West Virginia ranks second highest for incidence of depression and poor mental health outcomes,” Riffe said. “In many counties, the limited availability of mental health services makes the need for accessible community education a public health issue. WVU Extension gives me a platform and a network to provide reliable information to varied populations through my wonderful colleagues in WVU Extension’s county offices.”

Riffe received her master’s degree in social work from the University of Kentucky, and her doctorate in counselor education from WVU. She is a licensed independent clinical social worker and a licensed professional counselor.

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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