Hayman nets national award

Summer Bonnar, NLJ Reporter

Vicki Hayman, submitted photo 

Vicki Hayman attended the 89th conference for The National Extension Association for Family and Consumer Services in Providence, Rhode Island, in September, and while she was excited for her first visit to Rhode Island, she was also thrilled to receive national recognition for two of her publications.


“I thought it was really exciting to win and be recognized for two publications this year,” Hayman said.


Hayman has been with the University of Wyoming Extension Office for 25 years, and  has been a veteran attendee of the national conference as part of her service to northeast Wyoming for the past quarter of a century.


“I’ve received numerous awards over the past 25 years on the national level,” Hayman said, but she explained that she doesn’t submit a publication every year. She noted that it just depends on what the extension office and Hayman’s team have going on, and lately, a lot of baking has been going on. In response, Hayman and Tanya Engel, a graphic designer who formerly worked for the extension office, produced a cookbook catered to those who bake in high altitudes. 


“I keep getting questions,” Hayman explained. “More and more people are moving into Wyoming from other places, and they don’t know how to bake at high altitudes. So their cakes would fall, their cookies would be flat and thin.” 


So, the “High Altitude Baking” cookbook was born, and according to the 2023 Communications Educational Publication Award on neafcs.org, in recent months the “High Altitude Baking” page was the most visited publication on the UW Extension office website. 


“I’ve gotten good feedback on the high-altitude baking book from a lot of people,” Hayman said, indicating  the recognition is nice because a lot of work went into the publication. The cookbook is filled with different breads, scones and other baked goods, and each division has tips and high-altitude suggestions. Over 40 different volunteers helped to test recipes from different altitudes around the state, and the diversity and individualism of the cookbook is necessary in a terrain like Wyoming, Hayman said.


“Cooking here in Newcastle at 4,200 (feet) is different from cooking at 7,200 in Laramie,” she explained.


The cookbook was awarded first place in the western regional and was the second place winner nationally.


Hayman was also recognized at this year’s conference with an individual award for her educational publication, “Food Preservation with Reduced or No Salt or Sugar.” With this publication, Hayman instructed canning workshops and received great feedback, she said.


According to the NEAFCS award, “participant ratings for the relevance of information, presentation quality of instructor, and overall workshop quality averaged 3.8, 3.9, and 3.9, respectively, on a four-point scale.”


Hayman received second place in the western region and ranked third place nationally for the food preservation publication. She said she recognizes that the audience for this piece isn’t as wide, but she saw the need for it in her community.


“A lot of people want lower salt in their diets, lower sugar. They may have health issues they are dealing with,” Hayman explained.


To meet the needs of these people, Hayman compiled recipes that had been tested and are safe and healthy, and put them all into one publication. 


“It is the people calling, wanting and needing information, and if it works out, I can put it into a publication,” Hayman said. 


Hayman has been putting together these publications for years, and she said she has a passion for the health of Wyoming residents. For most of Hayman’s 25 years with the UW Extension Office she was a nutrition and food safety educator, but her team has recently been renamed as Community, Vitality and Health. With this change came the opportunity to become more community based.


“I still focus on health, nutrition and food safety,” Hayman said, admitting there may be some changes in her team. 


While it is gratifying to be recognized for her passion, it isn’t an easy road to get there. Each publication that Hayman chooses to submit to be considered for an award must clear three levels: state, regional and national. Hayman had to win at the state level for both publications to move onto the regional level. At regionals, Hayman’s publications had to maintain a certain score determined by extension’s judges to get to the national level.


After weeks of submitting and waiting to hear if her pieces would be judged favorably, Hayman received the news that she would be going to Rhode Island to be recognized nationally and said she’s thankful to those who helped her make the trip across the country a reality.


“The county commissioners were supportive and helped fund this trip, along with the University of Wyoming Extension, that made it possible,” she said.


Vicki Hayman has been educating Wyoming and making it a more nutritional place since 1997, and she excitedly enters her 26th year with the UW Extension Office this December. She is excited to work more closely within her community, she said, but she really just loves being an educator — at home and across Wyoming. 


“I provide education to Weston County and within the state,” she said.


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