LOGAN - Hector Mendiola, Utah State University Extension Director of the program for Latino communities, received the 2009 National Extension Diversity Award at the 122nd annual meeting for the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities in Washington, D.C. Mendiola was chosen by the National Extension Diversity Task Force to receive the award. In addition to a cash award given by the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy, the USDA provided Mendiola with a travel grant.
Nominations submitted this year were diverse, according to Willene Buffett, chair of the diversity awards committee; however Mendiola's nomination fully exemplified the broader scope of diversity within the system.
Mendiola's award was in recognition of his work as project coordinator for the USU Extension Hispanic/Latino Families Education Network. The network is a highly collaborative program for Hispanic/Latino populations focusing on building life skills, English/Spanish language acquisition and computer technology. Mendiola has brought to fruition a program that is supportive of parents, children and families in the Hispanic/Latino community through the creative partnerships between USU Extension, school districts, the Mexican government, the Monterrey Technological Institute and the USU Charter Credit Union.
"I am pleased to receive this award because it represents the recognition of an integrated work that enriches our community through improving education," said Mendiola.
"When the goodwill of individuals goes beyond the limitations of communication, understanding of one another is enhanced. And this is what USU Cooperative Extension is doing, supporting and communicating with students, families and schools in a program that will to bring them together with increased learning opportunities."
Mendiola practiced as a family doctor in Mexico from 1955 to 1970, then joined the faculty as a teaching professor at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. He retired and moved to Logan in 1993 where he was a volunteer teacher for Mexican and Latino families. He joined the USU Extension faculty as a Latino educator in 1999.
Mendiola was nominated for the award by Charles W. Gay, associate vice president and associate director for USU Extension and Dallas L. Holmes, institutional research, diversity and civil rights program specialist for USU Extension.
"In the great tradition of Cooperative Extension, Dr. Mendiola has taken a simple idea to help people improve their lives through educational assistance," said Gay. "Through many partnerships and volunteers, he has grown it into one of the top programs in the country. Through his perseverance and dedication and our joint efforts, he has made a significant difference in the quality of life of many Latino families in Utah. It is our hope to continue to expand this program to all areas of the state."