The Ratledge Family Award for Delaware Public Service has been presented to three members of the University of Delaware community – Mark Isaacs, Carrie Murphy, and Diana Simmons – for their contributions to the well-being of the people of the state of Delaware.
The recipients were honored during a ceremony April 26 at the Courtyard Newark at the University of Delaware.
Mark Isaacs, director of the Carvel Research and Education Center in Georgetown, Delaware, was recognized for his work with Delaware farmers and on agricultural research and legislation.
Isaacs has spent his career of 32 years at the University, working primarily in Georgetown on agricultural projects. He has worked directly with farmers on developing management practices for nutrient management in crops; coordinated research and extension projects from the research station; and worked closely with local and state leaders, serving on legislative and governor-appointed task force groups and committees, including Delaware Department of Agriculture, Delaware Farm Bureau, commodity boards, two boards of education and numerous advisory councils.
Prior recognition of his work has included the John Warren Excellence in Leadership and Service Award and both the Sussex County and State of Delaware Farm Bureau Distinguished Service to Agriculture Awards.
Isaacs has served as a student adviser/mentor and coach of numerous sport teams over the last 30 years and works closely with students on internship opportunities to expand work-based learning experiences enhancing their professional development while preparing them for careers in agriculture. During “field season,” Isaacs continues doing what he loves best —working with farmers on addressing crop production issues related to pest, nutrient and irrigation management.
He was recognized at the Ratledge Family Award ceremony by Cory Whaley, extension agent at the Carvel Research and Education Center.
Carrie Murphy, extension educator in horticulture, Master Gardener coordinator and program leader for the Lawn and Garden Program for the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension, has been at the University since 2004. She works together with extension educators and specialists to coordinate the Delaware Master Gardener program and the Delaware Cooperative Extension’s home and commercial horticulture programming and services.
Murphy also serves as co-chair for the Delaware Urban Farm and Food Coalition, whose mission is to support community-oriented urban agricultural projects that expand healthy food access in northern Delaware and bring together resources and technical assistance through a collaborative approach to urban farming.
She takes special interest in supporting sustainable landscapes, vegetable gardening, organic production, backyard composting, school and community gardens, and local foods.
At the ceremony, Murphy was recognized by Jennifer Volk, associate director of Cooperative Extension in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Diana Simmons, an administrative assistant IV in the School of Public Policy and Administration (SPPA), plays an important role in supporting the school’s faculty, staff and students. She has worked in SPPA for 15 years and previously worked in the Honors Program and the American Philosophical Association at the University of Delaware. In total, she has been at the University for nearly 31 years.
Simmons is an important point of contact and support for SPPA students, and she says that working with students over the years has been the highlight of her career.
Beyond UD, Simmons currently serves as vice president on the board of directors for the Newark Arts Alliance (NAA), a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing community through the arts. She is also the coordinator of the NAA Art-to-Go program, which works to bring artistic opportunities to children, seniors and persons with disabilities in Newark and the surrounding area — with special attention given to children in underserved populations.
Additionally, Simmons supports the Code Purple initiative in Newark by volunteering at several temporary shelter sites when temperatures drop to 20 degrees or below. Code Purple sites provide safe, warm, overnight housing and hot meals to individuals and families who are homeless. Her outreach efforts include coordinating a supply drive each winter to collect items of need for the homeless residents of Newark and the surrounding community.
Simmons was recognized by Maria Aristigueta, director of the School of Public Policy and Administration.
At the April 26 ceremony, David Wilson, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, presented welcoming remarks, and Mark Rieger, dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, closed the program. Dan Rich, director of the Community Engagement Initiative and University Professor of Public Policy, presented a talk on community engagement at the University.
About the Ratledge Family Award
The Ratledge family, Delawareans who can trace their roots back to the 1700s, established the award to encourage and recognize significant public service contributions with an award of $1,000 to recipients.
Recipients of the award must be members of the UD community. Faculty, staff and students are eligible.
Preference is given to members of the School of Public Policy and Administration and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
The award is presented to those who exemplify excellence in public service to citizens in the state, and those contributions are defined to include both paid and volunteer work.
Article by Crystal Nielsen
Photo by Ryan Halbe
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