University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) faculty members Sally Martin, Jo Anne Kock and Dan Weigel received the Western Extension Directors' Award of Excellence for their Family Storyteller literacy program. Family Storyteller was selected as one of only two regional awards this year for excellence in state extension education programs. Sally Martin and Dan Weigel accepted the award at the summer directors meeting in Jackson, Wyoming where the team received a $1,000 award.
The UNCE Family Storyteller program was developed to improve the literacy skills of both parents and children. This collaborative program involves innovative workshops for parents and their preschoolers and has been amplified through "train-the-trainer" efforts. Designed for English-speaking, Spanish-speaking and Native American families, the Family Storyteller has made substantial impacts. Evaluations indicate significant increases in parents' and children's literacy skills, the frequency of reading in the home, children's motivation to read and English vocabulary for Spanish-speaking families. These gains have continued over three and six months. The program has since been used by Extension systems in 29 other states.
In addition, UNCE's Seniors CAN program was acknowledged as a regional qualifying program. Team members Heidi Petermeier and Claudia C. Collins designed this 16-week program to promote health and facilitate independent living for older adults. The curriculum is currently being utilized in more than 36 states and Canada and is listed on the Centers for Disease Control and USDA databases. Participants represent diverse ethnic groups and economic levels. The Key to the program's success is incorporating wellness information into everyday life, translating abstract concepts into practical application.