sealPurdue News

October 21, 2002

Extension awards given for leadership, community efforts

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Awards were presented to three Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service educators in leadership and community development on Tuesday (10/15) during the annual Extension conference on Purdue's West Lafayette campus. The awards were sponsored by the Indiana Extension Educators Association.

Carmen DeRusha of Marion County was honored with the Leadership and Community Development (LCD) Innovator Award for bringing together longtime Indiana residents and new Latino immigrants to learn about each other and work together for the benefit of their communities. DeRusha serves on the Indianapolis Mayor's Latino Commission on Latino Affairs and the Neighborhood and Community Development Impact Council, among others. She helped organize the first statewide summit on Hispanic/Latino issues, and she developed the program "Growing up Hispanic in Indianapolis." The summit, "The Changing Face of Indiana – La Imagen Cambiante de Indiana," showcased coping strategies developed in two communities and featured workshops on cultural competency, education, employment, fair housing, home ownership and immigration law. "Growing Up Hispanic in Indianapolis" offered young Latinos and Hispanics the opportunity to interact with adult role models of similar ethnic background and presented the experiences of four Hispanic community leaders who grew up in the United States.

• For her efforts in providing leadership opportunities to Rush County youth, Sherri Miller received the LCD Senior Award. Miller, the 4-H/youth development educator in Rush County, created "Leadership Rush County," a two-year program focused on building career-development, work preparedness and community-service skills. Local school faculty selected 24 youths to participate in the first year of the program, which included an overnight retreat with a neighboring county and four all-day sessions. During each session, community leaders and Extension educators made presentations on specific topics, then the youths practiced their new skills at the local "National Conversation" focus group meeting. The participants began their second year of the program this fall by visiting various community boards and learning firsthand what volunteerism and community service entail.

• The LCD Junior Award went to Michael Reetz of Starke and Pulaski counties for his work in forming the Comprehensive Plan Task Force to address land-use concerns in Starke County. Reetz held meetings to inform officials of the process necessary to update the comprehensive plan. He conducted seminars to educate planning commission members and other local officials on the issues. Newspaper articles, radio programs and letters to key individuals encouraged citizens to become active in the planning process. As a result of the task force, Starke County's comprehensive plan is being updated. With a $10,000 grant from the county and a matching grant from the Indiana Department of Commerce, residents are taking steps to guide growth and use of land to preserve natural resources and ease the strain on public services, utilities and schools.

CONTACT: Floyd Branson, Purdue Extension, (765) 494-8490.

Writer: Andrea McCann

Contact: Beth Forbes, Agricultural Communications, (765) 494-2722,

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722; Beth Forbes,;

Related Web site:
Purdue Extension

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: Publication-quality photographs of the Extension award winners are available at

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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