LaDell Emmons honored by Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service
When disaster struck Pittsburg County on Jan. 12, 2007, LaDell Emmons literally proved to be a lifeline for local residents in the hours, days, weeks and months to come, helping them deal with food safety and preservation issues that resulted from one of the most devastating ice storms in state history.
Today, county residents and community leaders continue to express their appreciation for Emmons, Pittsburg County family and consumer sciences educator with the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, both for her commitment to service on behalf of so many during those hard times, as well as the many other ways she continues to make a difference.
Emmons recently received the service's Outstanding Faculty and Field Staff Program Contribution award during ceremonies at Oklahoma State University on Jan. 29, 2009, in recognition of the ways in which Emmons has improved the quality of life for Pittsburg County residents.
"We felt that LaDell's exemplary performance on behalf of Pittsburg County deserved to be formally honored; she is an outstanding example of everything we hope our Extension educators can and will be," said Robert E. Whitson, vice president, dean and director of OSU's Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.
The division is comprised of the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and two statewide agencies: the Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station system and Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service.
"LaDell has clearly achieved what we seek for every county educator," said James Trapp, OSU Cooperative Extension associate director. "She has made a positive difference in the lives of many people and is deserving of recognition and appreciation by the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, above and beyond that given directly by those she serves."
Though Emmons has had a positive effect on people's lives for years, she will perhaps always be linked to the devastating ice storm of 2007 in the minds of many, and with good reason.
It took only a few hours for the freezing rain to wipe out electricity across the county, from the city of McAlester to its most rural of areas. The freezing rain accumulated on power and telephone lines, causing them to snap or drag down utility poles; trees that had lived for many decades were felled in a matter of hours. People soon realized that their county was undergoing a disaster of near mythic proportions, one from which they might not recover for weeks or months.
As soon as Emmons could, she ventured forth from her own home and braved the weather, cautiously making her way through streets littered with debris large and small, to get to the local radio station.
While the county struggled under the assault of Mother Nature gone wild, Emmons was on the air, knowing that everyone was affected by the disaster, but perhaps those who lived month-to-month on financially strained budgets most of all.
One hour passed, then another, and then still another. Citizens across the county listened to her radio broadcast, heard callers' concerns being addressed and learned solutions to difficulties they or those they knew faced. Always kind, always compassionate, Emmons patiently answered each question and put their minds at ease regarding what they could do to ensure food safety, provide for the nutritional needs of loved ones and salvage food items for the long haul. She gave out her personal telephone number, so that people could call her at home, if needed.
Call they did, for hours at a time, for days, weeks and even months after the freezing rain had initially fallen.
"While this award focuses on LaDell's dedication to the citizens of southeastern Oklahoma during a time of natural disaster, her co-workers and many people in Pittsburg County know that she is available every day with the same dedication," Trapp said.
Emmons has served as family and consumer sciences educator for the Pittsburg County Extension Office since June 1, 2001, joining the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service after 22 years as an instructor at McAlester High School.
Her professional affiliations include the Oklahoma Extension Association of Family and Consumer Science, Oklahoma Family Resource Coalition, 4-H Alumni Association, OSU Alumni Association and Oklahoma Association of Family and Consumer Science, among others.
She earned her bachelor's degree in vocational home economics education and extension from OSU in 1979, earning a minor in communications along the way. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Central Oklahoma in 1982, earning her master's degree in vocational home economics education competencies.