Karen Gehrt named associate director of Virginia Cooperative Extension

BLACKSBURG, Va., Aug. 11, 2006 – Karen Gehrt of Champaign, Ill., has been named the associate director of Family and Consumer Sciences programs for Virginia Cooperative Extension. In her new position at Virginia Tech, Gehrt will serve as a state program leader for the development and delivery of educational programs that meet the needs of Virginia’s families and communities.

“I am both pleased and excited to have Karen join our administrative team,” said Mark McCann, associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the director of the Virginia Cooperative Extension. “She brings a unique combination of talent and experiences to the position.”

When commenting on her appointment, Gehrt said, “I am thrilled to be a part of Virginia Cooperative Extension and humbled to have been selected to provide statewide leadership for Family and Consumer Science programs. I believe that Family and Consumer Sciences programs incorporate prevention and intervention components that are key to strengthening Virginia families.”

Gehrt will collaborate with the university’s outreach division to plan and implement joint extension and outreach programs as well as work in close partnership with state program leaders at Virginia State University to ensure the delivery of comprehensive and coordinated educational programs.

“I am truly looking forward to working with Extension agents, staff, and volunteers on interdisciplinary programs, identifying new partners, enhancing existing partnerships, and responding to the challenges and opportunities to promote Family and Consumer Sciences programs throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Gehrt said.

Gehrt previously worked for the Food and Nutrition Service at the United States Department of Agriculture, where she served as a WIC program specialist in the Midwest Regional Office.

Before that, she worked at Lifespan Wellness, where she served as a program development and marketing consultant for nutrition and wellness education. Her numerous clients included the Carle Foundation Hospital, Illinois Power Company, Dairy Management, Inc., at Rosemont, Ill., and the Illinois Soybean Association, where she served as a nutrition spokeswoman for promoting the health benefits of soy products in the diet. She also did program consulting with Caterpillar, Inc., where she collaborated with University of Illinois Extension to establish an employee/spouse health promotion program.

Previously, Gehrt served as associate director of the Fisher Institute for Wellness at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., and for 23 years as an Extension educator for University of Illinois Extension.

She received a bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University and her master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has been a registered, licensed dietician since 1981.

Ranked 11th in agricultural research expenditures by the National Science Foundation, Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences offers students the opportunity to learn from some of the world’s leading agricultural scientists. The college’s comprehensive curriculum gives students a balanced education that ranges from food and fiber production to economics to human health. The college is a national leader in incorporating technology, biotechnology, computer applications, and other recent scientific advances into its teaching program.