Jennifer Bowen of Farmville, Virginia, senior Extension agent in 4-H youth development and unit coordinator for Prince Edward County, Virginia, received Virginia Tech’s 2015 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.

Bowen started her career as 4-H associate Extension agent for Prince Edward County in 2000. She was promoted to Extension agent, 4-H youth development, in 2005 and to senior agent in 2013.

Throughout her career with Virginia Cooperative Extension, Bowen has worked hard to develop and strengthen relationships with local schools, educators, parents, and children in Prince Edward County and to implement programs designed to meet local needs.

Under her leadership, 4-H programs have grown and become stronger. She is recognized as an outstanding educator and a leader among her peers, and the positive relationship she has maintained with local school systems has been instrumental in the growth of 4-H programs.

For example, one of her after-school programs, the Fun with Foods cooking class, has served nearly 200 youth. Parents said the program improved their children’s abilities to read and follow directions and to measure correctly. Other after-school programs developed and led by Bowen have focused on natural resources education, science, engineering, technology, and plant and soil science.

In addition, Bowen manages between five and seven special interest clubs each year and works with 10 to 15 volunteer leaders who manage those clubs. She ensures they are aware of and following policies and procedures and that the youth are having positive educational and life-skill building experiences.

Throughout her career in Extension, Bowen has worked to make 4-H programs accessible to the underserved. For example, she has secured more than $11,000 from the United Way for camp scholarships.

She also worked with volunteers and professionals to develop and implement Camp Loud and Clear, an overnight camping program for deaf and hard-of-hearing children.

“Mrs. Bowen’s drive to include this often overlooked section of our society and provide them with an opportunity all other children have is a perfect example of the 4-H mission,” Jennifer Kingsley, a parent of a child who participated in Camp Loud and Clear, wrote in a letter of support. “Deaf and hard-of-hearing youth are perfectly capable of becoming self-directing, contributing, and productive members of society if encouraged and accommodated appropriately. This is exactly what Mrs. Bowen has done."

Through grant submissions, fundraisers, programming awards, and donations, Bowen has raised more than $81,000 for the Prince Edward County 4-H program in the past 14 years. She has also received more than $15,000 in in-kind donations and services.

Bowen received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Longwood University.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.