Purdue Extension's Block Party

A program that teaches young children a variety of skills with building blocks has been awarded the Purdue Cooperative Extension Specialists Association's top award.

The Ann Hancook Award, recognizing Extension educators and specialists who develop programs focusing on families, was presented Thursday (Oct.16) during a luncheon at the annual Purdue Extension Professional Development Conference.

The Block Party program is a series of events that provide an opportunity for parents to interact and play with their children while learning how to help them develop math, science, social, physical, vocabulary, pre-reading, creative and problem-solving skills.

Events are centered on five stations, each with a different set of blocks that are intended to teach children a specific skill. Parents are provided with information on how they can help their children develop each skill.

Team members are Susan Tharp, retired Extension director and health and human sciences educator, Clinton County; Karen Hinshaw, Extension director and HHS educator, Huntington County; Ann Fremion, HHS educator, LaGrange County; Jim Elicker, associate professor of human development and family studies; and Barbara Beaulieu and Dee Love, human development Extension specialists.

The award is named in honor of Ann Hancook, a Purdue Extension program leader who died in 1993. Sponsors are the Indiana Extension Educators Association, Purdue University Cooperative Extension Specialists Association and the Alpha Lambda chapter of Epsilon Sigma Phi, the Extension honor society.

Also presented:

* Team Award: The Indiana Watershed Leadership Program, Jane Frankenberger, professor of agricultural and biological engineering; Laura Esman, water quality program coordinator, agricultural and biological engineering; Linda Prokopy, associate professor of forestry and natural resources; Jill Reinhart, assistant state conservationist, U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service; Angie Brown, senior watershed planner, Indiana Department of Environmental Management; Lisa Ritter MacMahon, former coordinator of the Hoosier Riverwatch Monitoring Program; Reggie Korthals, coordinator of the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System, Indiana Department of Environmental Management; Dan Perkins, watershed and conservation program specialist, Jasper County Soil and Water Conservation District; and Laura Fribly, district support specialist, Indiana State Department of Agriculture.

* Early Career Award: Nicole Olynk Widmar, associate professor of agricultural economics, and farm business management and production economics specialist.

* Mid-Career Award: Corinne Alexander, associate professor of agricultural economics and grain marketing specialist.

* Career Award: John Obermeyer, integrated pest management specialist.

*Leadership Award: Lisa Graves, assistant program leader of HHS and nutrition science specialist.

Among other awards announced, Epsilon Sigma Phi presented its Distinguished Service Award to Peg Ehlers, Extension director, and 4-H youth development and HHS educator in Switzerland County. Receiving ESP's Continued Excellence Award was Susan Plassmeier, Extension director and HHS educator in Vanderburgh County.