Jenny S. Carleo, Rutgers Cooperative Extension Agricultural and Resource Management Agent for Cape May County, received a 2016 Joint Council of Extension Professionals (JCEP) Award for Creative Excellence. Carleo received the award as the 2016 National Association of County Agricultural Agents’ recipient for excellence in “Maintaining Personal Connections with Clients in the Age of Technology”. The award was presented to Carleo at the National Association of County Agricultural Agents Conference (NACAA) in Little Rock, Arkansas in July.
JCEP is a partnership of Extension Professional Associations doing what each cannot do effectively alone. The JCEP award is presented in recognition of individuals or small teams and their unique contributions to Extension programming by being innovative in their approach to addressing emerging issues or existing issues in exceptionally creative or novel ways to obtain desirable results and outcomes.
One area considered during the award process was how Agricultural and Resource Management Agents maintain a personal connection with their clients in the age of technology. Carleo said, “The new “Gardening by the Seasons” series uses hands-on activities. Of course, hands-on training is not new to Extension educators. Our techniques, however, for minimizing PowerPoint and creating a fun, interactive atmosphere have created an environment that enables participants to become generators of their own learning. This is created in part by having a meal together, limiting lectures to 45 minutes, giving ample breaks and using the rest of the time for the activity. Since making some drastic changes in educational format, each class has been sold out with a waiting list and the evaluations are overwhelmingly positive.”
Carleo added, “We must all learn how to keep up with technology, and our demanding positions, while developing business relationships with our clients. Through modification of my classroom’s dynamic I have been successful in re-connecting with the people I serve. “Gardening by the Seasons” is a traditional Extension program, but I have also found ways to use technology in order to enhance audience reach and interaction, rather than inhibit it.”
Jenny Carleo has been the Rutgers Agricultural and Resource Management Agent for Cape May County and a faculty member of Rutgers University since 2006. Carleo earned her B.S. degree in Agricultural Science from Cook College, Rutgers University in 1999. Following her undergraduate studies she earned a Master of Science in Plant Biology, also from Rutgers in 2003.
As state coordinator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture funded Annie’s Project New Jersey from 2012-2015, Carleo enabled the project team to offer farm business management programming to over 700 participants. She also currently conducts scientific research on local farms growing small fruits. She has worked extensively in floriculture, ornamentals and vegetable production in the past. She currently serves as the Project Director for “Ultra-Niche Crops for the Progressive, New Farmer” a USDA funded Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program project. The first class, in this series, is Plasticulture Strawberries which will take place on Wednesday, September 28th from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at Rutgers Cooperative Extension in Cape May County. For additional information, please call 609-465-5115, ext. 607.