Extension leader earns award for community impact

By Scott Weybright, College of Agricultural, Human & Natural Resource Sciences

Diana-Roberts-80SPOKANE, Wash. – Regional extension specialist Diana Roberts has been honored for engaging local farmers and volunteering in her community. She recently received the 2014 Pearl Award for Women’s Leadership and Mentorship from the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS) at Washington State University.

She has worked with WSU Extension since 1991 after earning a Ph.D. 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 nominated Roberts 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.

She also praised Roberts’ volunteer efforts around Spokane, especially visiting nursing homes with certified pet partners. Roberts also makes hospice visits in 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,” she said. “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 honors a WSU alumna who has demonstrated exceptional leadership and made a meaningful impact in her community (personal, local, regional, national or international) through career, leadership, public service and contributions to the common good. As a result of their leadership, honorees have set an example that has inspired or empowered women to assume leadership roles.