The Alpha Gamma chapter of Epsilon Sigma Phi, the Extension honorary organization, has awarded 2009 State Friend of Extension awards to Luma Kass of Alexandria, Pim Montgomery of Heathsville, and Dorothy "Dottie" Nelson of Bland for their support of Virginia Cooperative Extension programs at the local and state levels.

The awards were presented on May 12 as part of the Virginia Extension Service Association annual meeting in Charlottesville.

Luma Kass began her involvement with Extension as a financial education volunteer, providing one-on-one financial counseling to Arlington residents and teaching classes on a variety of money-management topics. A Mexico City native, she responded to many requests for financial education from Spanish-speaking individuals and groups. Kass expanded her role with Extension by taking a Master Gardener volunteer training course and assisting with nutrition classes. In 2007, she joined the Arlington Extension Leadership Council (ELC), becoming its chair a year later.

“It is not hyperbole to say that Luma has revolutionized the Arlington ELC and has made tremendous contributions to every program run by Extension in Arlington,” said Jennifer Abel, family and consumer sciences Extension agent in Arlington County. “We are fortunate to have such an energetic and dedicated volunteer.”

During her time as chair, Kass increased attendance and commitment at Arlington ELC meetings and marketed Extension in her community. She collaborated with a vocational high school to create a video about Extension, now shown in a continuous loop at the county administration building, the central library, and the Department of Human Services building. Kass also partnered with the Arlington County Board of Supervisors, developed a plan to keep elected officials informed about Extension, and strengthened Extension’s relationship with the Arlington Department of Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources.

Pim Montgomery, a Philadelphia native, began her involvement with Extension as a member of the Northumberland Homemakers Club in 1983, twice serving as the group’s president. She has served on the Jamestown 4-H Educational Center’s board since 1987 and has been an active member of the Lancaster and Northumberland ELC since 1988, chairing it five times.

“She believes passionately in and champions – in equal measure – the goals of Virginia Cooperative Extension,” said Annette Jewell, unit coordinator and family and consumer sciences Extension agent in Lancaster County. “It is this passion that has driven her service and support over the past 20 years to Extension.”

Montgomery has been active in the development of the Jamestown 4-H Educational Center through her work and her financial support. In 2000, she donated to the center in part for the construction of an attractive and safe pier used to teach youth about marine science, and she has continued to contribute annually. Montgomery, an honorary 4-H All Star, has also helped to educate local community leaders and elected officials about the importance of Extension programs. In the past decade, she has been recognized twice as an Outstanding Volunteer and Advocate for Lancaster and Northumberland Counties.

Dottie Nelson has been credited by 4-H agents and volunteer leaders with keeping the International 4-H Youth Exchange (IFYE) program alive and growing in Virginia for more than 20 years. As its inbound and outbound coordinator, Nelson processes all program applications, purchases airline tickets, recruits host families throughout Virginia, plans and carries out orientation sessions, and ensures that participants have opportunities to take part in 4-H camps and State 4-H Congress, as well as to tour Washington D.C. She has worked with officials in numerous countries to place delegates, while serving at the national level as vice president and secretary of the IFYE Foundation and twice serving on the IFYE Association Board of Directors.

“Dottie Nelson’s tireless volunteer leadership and commitment to building international understanding has kept 4-H international exchange programs alive and growing in Virginia for many years,” said Carol Nansel, 4-H youth development agent in Shenandoah County. “Her passion for recruiting and supporting delegates and host families has enabled countless Virginia families to have positive experiences in world leadership.”

A native of Bland, Nelson also volunteers with the Virginia 4-H/Japanese and FLEX High School Exchange programs, the summer 4-H Japanese exchange program, her local 4-H program, and the Virginia chapter of 4-H All Stars. And, she organizes international workshops for teens during State 4-H Congress. In 2007, Nelson received the Virginia Chapter of 4-H All Stars’ Hall of Fame award for her dedicated leadership and service. She has been a member of the Bland County ELC since 2003 and a 4-H volunteer since the early ‘80s. Nelson regularly judges local, area, and district 4-H public speaking and presentation contests.

In September, Nelson will be honored at the National Epsilon Sigma Phi Conference in Fargo, N.D., as one of three volunteers selected as national Friend of Extension award winners.