UT Institute of Agriculture Presents Top Faculty and Staff Awards for 2021
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture recognized some of its top faculty, staff, researchers and Extension experts at UTIA’s annual awards and promotions luncheon on the UTIA campus in Knoxville July 30, 2021. The event was conducted in person, a welcome return to normalcy after having an online ceremony because of the pandemic last year. The awards honor the extraordinary performance of UTIA employees during a difficult year of online education and changes to procedures because of the pandemic. Many of the awards are gifts made possible by faculty, alumni and friends of the Institute.
UTIA Senior Vice President Tim Cross hosted the award winners and praised them for their work. “After a challenging and stressful year, it’s a pleasure to recognize excellence as exemplified by these award-winning members of the UTIA faculty and staff,” Cross says. “Their continuing dedication to our land-grant mission of serving Tennessee ensures that we develop and deliver real life solutions to improve health, grow the economy and enhance our environment.”
Heather Sedges, associate professor and human development specialist for UT Extension’s Family and Consumer Sciences, is one of the four winners of the J.E. Moss Achievement Award, an honor that goes to a representative of each of the Institute’s units each year. In addition to Sedges, the 2021 honor recognizes Blake Brown for AgResearch, Brent Lamons for the Herbert College of Agriculture and Deborah Shepherd for the UT College of Veterinary Medicine.
“I am humbled and grateful to be recognized by those whom I deeply respect and hold in high esteem,” Sedges says. “It’s truly a gift to be welcomed into people’s lives in ways that help them to be healthier, happier and more peaceful. I greatly enjoy seeing and experiencing the direct impact our work has in communities. It’s motivating and heartwarming.”
Sedges has teamed with USDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for two notable programs. She’s working to help farmers deal with mental health issues and the stress associated with agricultural ventures and has recently worked with the State of Tennessee to help people cope with mental health challenges in light of COVID-19. She also has led a program called “Coalitions for Change,” to reduce high obesity rates in some rural Tennessee counties.
“I’ve noticed that every J.E. Moss award recipient continues on in their UTIA career to indelibly impact their field and Tennessee. It always seems like a marker for the next great chapter of their work. I find that to be inspirational and believe that so long as there are people and places to help, our work still awaits,” she says.
Through its land-grant mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions. utia.tennessee.edu.