University of Maine Extension’s Kathy Savoie wins the 2023 NEED Exceptional Local Educator Award

July 27, 2023

Professor Kathleen (Kathy) Savoie has been awarded the Association of Northeast Extension Directors’ 2023 Exceptional Local Educator Award for her work “Building Agricultural Literacy through an Immersive Culinary Art Experience”.

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

Professor Savoie has created, designed, and delivered a program that provides four types of experiential learning for 23 CTE Culinary Arts Instructors and their students, which include:

  1. Culinary Arts Summer Institute (CASI),
  2. classroom visits to infuse agricultural literacy into mainstream Culinary Arts curricula,
  3. mini-grant funds to support experiential learning, and
  4. Innovative Local Food Competition.

The program has been delivered to 650 learners and 21 culinary arts instructors since it began 18 months ago. In that time, 90% of the participants have increased proficiency in all five National Agricultural Literacy Outcome benchmarks. Long-term impact evaluate is planned as is official publication of the work.

This program exemplifies the kind of locally focused, impact driven, and responsive work the Association of Northeast Extension Directors seeks to celebrate with this award. We are excited for the opportunity to showcase Professor Savoie’s programming during our annual Awards Celebration Webinar in early 2024.

Individuals who are interested in learning more about, or connecting to, the Building Agricultural Literacy through an Immersive Culinary Art Experience program can contact Professor Savoie at [email protected] (UMaine website).

Questions related to the Exceptional Local Educator Award program may be directed to NEED Executive Director, Ali Mitchell, at [email protected].