Renee Boyer, associate professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, has received the university’s 2018 Alumni Award for Excellence in Extension.

Sponsored by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, the Alumni Award for Excellence in Extension is presented annually to two Virginia Cooperative Extension faculty members who have made outstanding contributions to the land-grant mission of the university. One award goes to an Extension specialist and the other is given to an Extension agent. Each award winner receives $2,000.

Boyer’s goal is to educate food handlers in safe food-handling practices. In 2006, she introduced the Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) State Food Safety Leadership Team. With her leadership, the team has provided much-needed recommendations on facilitating food safety programs, conducted agent and program needs assessments, and developed materials to support the food safety and preservation programs.

After a needs assessment conducted by the VCE leadership team in 2007 revealed that VCE agents had a lack of knowledge in food preservation, Boyer responded by developing a home food preservation agent training that included both hands-on and online training components. Since this was developed in 2008, 126 Extension agents in Virginia have been trained to deliver the content in their locality.

Boyer also lobbied for funds to equip agents across the state with pressure dial gauge testers in 2008. Since then, more than 1,330 dial gauges have been tested for accuracy, and approximately 37 percent have tested inaccurate.

“As a result of her technical competence and her efforts in team leadership and resource development, Renee has been able to greatly enhance food safety knowledge and practices among Virginia consumers and food retailers. She is a gifted relationship builder, and the impact of her efforts permeates a significant number of food safety Extension efforts ongoing in the commonwealth,” wrote Robert C. Williams, associate professor in the College of Architecture and Life Sciences, in a letter of nomination.

To date, Boyer has authored 13 peer-reviewed Extension publications and 71 fact sheets.

Written by Lindsey Grooms, Class of 2019

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