WSU Colville Reservation Extension team honored with national teamwork award

Group photo with Wells holding award.
Honored as part of a team award for a WSU Extension food garden and food sovereignty program on the Colville Reservation, Kayla Wells accepts awards from NEAFCS President Karen Munden.


WSU Colville Reservation Extension educators and tribal program partners were honored by a national organization this fall for their efforts in helping tribal communities thrive through food garden education.

Kayla Wells, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator for WSU Colville Reservation Extension and director of WSU Okanogan County Extension, and team members Linda McLean, Director and 4-H Educator with WSU Colville Reservation Extension; Tabitha Parr, Office Assistant with WSU Colville Reservation Extension; and Dorothy Palmer, Program Manager for the Colville Confederated Tribes Low Income Heating Energy Assistance Program, were recognized at the 85th annual session of the National Extension Association for Family and Consumer Sciences (NAEFCS), in Hershey, Penn.

This team received the association’s second-place National Award, first place Western Region Award, and first-place State Award for Excellence in Teamwork.

Women looking at fruit deliveries on table.
Fresh food items from the WSU Colville Reservation Extension Demonstration Garden are delivered to the Colville Confederated Tribal Food Distribution Program.

The team was honored for their Food Sovereignty/Food Security Garden Program, addressing the needs of the residents of the Colville Reservation, which is designated by USDA as a “food desert.”

This program helped families learn how to grow, preserve and enjoy healthy, nutritious foods. Wells and her team taught the “Why, How and What Now” of gardening, thus providing reservation residents with the skills and knowledge to plant, maintain and harvest their own food gardens.

“Teamwork was vital to the success of this program,” said Wells. “Without each person’s expertise and contribution, we would not have been able to provide the depth and breadth of education to our participants. This program would not have been as successful without the sponsors, the educators, and the behind-the-scenes person who created the marketing materials.”

Sponsored by the NAEFCS Awards Fund, the Excellence in Teamwork Award was established in 2018 to recognize outstanding Extension Family and Consumer Sciences programs conducted by a multi-disciplinary team. This team is comprised of Extension, Tribal and FRTEP (Federally Recognized Tribes Program) Educators.

In honoring Wells and her team, the Association highlighted their exemplary commitment to meeting the needs of individuals, families and communities.

View of vines in garden planters.
The WSU Colville Reservation Extension Demonstration Garden produced a variety of crops like, green beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, squash and peppers.