In recognition of his "outstanding" service, Bartow County Extension Coordinator Paul Pugliese recently captured four awards during the National Association of County Agricultural Agents' 103rd Annual Meeting and Professional Improvement Conference.
Along with winning a Distinguished Service Award for Excellence in Extension Education Programs, his other accolades included Search for Excellence in Commercial Horticulture — state winner; Communications Award: Video Recordings — national finalist; and Communications Award: Feature Story — state winner.
"It’s an honor to receive these recognitions from my peers," Pugliese said. "These awards are really an acknowledgement of the incredible working relationships I have with the Bartow County government, Master Gardener Extension volunteers and numerous agricultural organizations that give me the support I need on the job every day.
"I am blessed to be surrounded by terrific Extension coworkers and mentors. Without this support network, I would not be able to have this kind of impact as a county Extension agent. I’m also blessed to have a wife and family that support the work that I do."
Presented in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the NACAA's conference was held July 29 through Aug. 2.
"All of these awards are highly competitive among Extension agents across the state and nation," Pugliese said. "Abstracts for each award are submitted to a juried committee comprised of other Extension agents at state, regional and national levels.
"The Distinguished Service Award is considered one of the most prestigious honors within the National Association of County Agricultural Agents for excellence in Extension education programs. Only the Top 2 percent of all Extension agents in the country with 10 or more years of service receive this award."
Also receiving the Distinguished Service Award was Greg Bowman — former Bartow County Extension agent — who now serves as the Gordon County Extension coordinator.
"The Distinguished Service Award is the highest honor that the … NACAA can bestow upon one of our members," said Brent Allen, vice president of the Georgia Association of Agricultural Agents. "This award is reserved for [agents] who have worked more than 10 years and have exhibited outstanding leadership and commitment to their counties and the state. They also must be able to show a superior level of job performance and Extension programming efforts."
Noting "Pugliese has far surpassed the qualification requirement to receive this award," Allen also shared a portion of the application submitted to NACAA — "During the past 11 years, Paul Pugliese has built a state and national reputation for programming targeting horticulture industry professionals, certified arborists and Master Gardener volunteers. He has personally delivered more than 924 presentations, with 696 teaching hours, reaching 17,110 clientele. Mr. Pugliese’s peers have recognized his work with six national awards and  state awards.
"The nominee has served as northwest district treasurer, chair of Oral Presentations and chair of the Horticulture Committee for GACAA. He has also served as president of the Georgia [Association of Natural Resources Extension Professionals] ANREP Chapter (2011-2012), and executive board chair of the Georgia [Joint Council of Extension Professionals] JCEP (2014-2015). He is currently serving as the northwest district director for the [Extension Service Professionals] ESP Alpha Beta Chapter (2016-2018). In 2009, he became a certified arborist through the International Society of Arboriculture. In 2014, Mr. Pugliese was appointed to the rank of public service associate. Paul Pugliese is currently the Bartow County Extension coordinator and agent for agriculture and natural resources. He serves as a supervisor for two county agents, three program assistants and a secretary. In addition, he manages 54 active Master Gardener Extension volunteers."
Leading the Bartow County Extension since 2011, Pugliese is delighted to serve his home community.
"I have worked in public service professions for the past 15 years, starting with the Georgia Department of Agriculture from 2003 [to] 2006 and UGA Extension since 2006," he said. "I started working for Bartow County Extension in 2011 after having worked with Cherokee County Extension for five years prior. Transferring to Bartow County was a homecoming for me, since this is where I grew up. I’m also a product of the Bartow County 4-H program and became a Master 4-H’er in 1997 while attending Cass High School.
"I love being able to work in my home county and give back to the community that has guided me down my career path. I think back to my younger days and the influence of so many local farmers, teachers, Boy Scout volunteers and Extension agents that encouraged me to pursue a career in agriculture. I love my job and have a passion for teaching others about agricultural and natural resource sciences."