UF/IFAS Extension agent earns national diversity and inclusion award
Eva Maria Pabon’s Extension efforts reach as far as Puerto Rico. There, she trained five University of Puerto Rico Extension faculty and administrators to bring the Master Gardener Volunteer program to their community. These trainings resulted in 17 volunteers being inducted into the first class of Master Gardeners in Puerto Rico.
For those efforts and more, the UF/IFAS Extension Osceola County Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator Eva Maria Pabon was awarded the Extension Master Gardener Coordinator National Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award honoring her reaching efforts to bring Master Gardener programming and support to people of all backgrounds.
“Eva’s leadership in diversity and inclusion has been recognized at the highest level and we are extremely proud,” said Wendy Wilber, UF/IFAS Extension Florida Master Gardener Volunteer Statewide Coordinator. “Eva exemplifies a caring, dedicated, innovative and scholarly Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator professional that serves to inspire all those around her and across Extension.”
She is an active participant in the UF/IFAS Café Latino program designed to teach cultural competency at the state and local level to Extension faculty. She has served on this team since the program’s inception. In doing so, she provides support in reaching diverse audiences through sensitivity training. She also understands how to reach people where they are.
Pabon also serves on the national Extension Master Gardeners diversity subcommittee and advocates for continued diversity in the program.
In her local community, Pabon serves at the Osceola County Emergency Management Office (EOC) during times of crisis such as hurricanes and health emergencies, including during the COVID-19 crisis. As a bilingual speaker, she helps community members that call the crisis line in need of assistance and through her efforts, has risen to serve as the intel situation branch director of the EOC.
Her efforts in diversity show among Osceola County Master Gardener Volunteer program members as well, with volunteers that differ in culture, race and age that reflect the diversity of Osceola County.
“Eva is a consummate Extension professional and team player,” Wilber said. “She serves as mentor to new agents and provides leadership in her professional associations. All of Florida Extension considers it an honor to call Eva their friend and colleague because she makes sure all voices are heard and all people have a place at the table.”