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CAHNRS honors Extension leader

Diana Roberts received the 2014 Pearl Award for Women’s Leadership and Mentorship from the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS).

Roberts, professor and Regional Extension Specialist, has worked with WSU Extension since 1991 after also earning a PhD in Agronomy from WSU.

“I’m honored to receive this award, especially since it recognizes contributions to community as well as professional accomplishments,” said Roberts, a native of Zimbabwe.

Former colleague Tonie Fitzgerald, who praised Roberts’ leadership skills while working with local farmers, nominated her for the award.

“Diana believes that the best way to engage farmers in change is to work with the innovative leaders in the community, help them gain resources and develop ways to improve their farming practices, and then encourage these growers to teach others,” Fitzgerald wrote in nominating Roberts.

Pet Partner Murungu (Big Chief) comforts a hospice patient. Diana Roberts, a WSU Extension Agronomist by day, chauffeurs her pets to their volunteer work providing warm, furry touch to hospice patients, many of whom have no family nearby. Diana then paints watercolors of their interactions.

Fitzgerald also praised the extensive volunteer efforts Roberts does around Spokane, especially her work visiting nursing homes with her various certified Pet Partners. Roberts also works with Horizon Hospice, visiting patients’ homes.

“The people we see generally have no family in town or on the planet,” Roberts said. “Facing death is a lonely and scary experience. Yet, often when they have a warm, furry pet snuggled up beside them, patients will talk openly about their deepest fears. I do my best to listen. On several occasions, the person passed away soon after that event. I believe that being truly heard enabled them to let go of life more easily.”

The CAHNRS Pearl Award for Women’s Leadership and Mentorship honors a WSU alumna who has demonstrated exceptional leadership and who has made a meaningful impact in their community (personal, local, regional, national or international) through career, leadership, public service and contributions to the common good. As a result of their leadership they have set an example that has inspired or empowered women to assume leadership roles.

Media Contacts

Diana Roberts, Professor and Regional Extension Specialist,