The Southern Rural Development Center is proud to honor Mr. Hank Cothran as the 2009 recipient of the Bonnie Teater Community Development Educator Lifetime Achievement Award. Cothran is an Extension Community Resource Development Specialist with the University of Florida’s Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences.
As a member of the Food and Resource Economics Department at the University of Florida, Cothran has dedicated his career to public policy education, community leadership development, and business retention and expansion. He has gained considerable respect as an Extension educator, working at local, regional, national and international levels in advancing community and economic development Extension programming. LSU AgCenter Extension agents Kay Lynn Tettleton and Cynthia F. Plicher explain that Cothran “personifies the values, enthusiasm, knowledge and commitment that is community development.” From coast to coast, Cothran has reached diverse audiences through his enthusiasm and professionalism.
Throughout his years, Cothran has given unselfishly of his time and talents to a variety of professional organizations, serving in key leadership roles from treasurer to president. A former president of Business Retention & Expansion International, Cothran took the lead role in developing the Basic BREI Course when it was in need of an update and revision in 2003. As BREI Association Manager Connie Wagner notes, “[BREI] Course attendance/participation has greatly increased due to the quality of his work, his presentation style and vast knowledge.” The quality of Cothran’s BREI efforts are reflected in the fact that he has tapped to present this program in Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, and various regions of the United States. Currently, Cothran is working directly with a group in South Africa to modify the course to align with their specific needs. As a result of his eight years of service to this area of work, Cothran was honored as a “Master Business Retention and Expansion Professional,” the first person so honored with this important designation.
BREI is just one organization that has benefited from Cothran’s commitment. He served as secretary, vice-chair, and chair for the Southern Region Program Leadership Network’s Community Development Committee. He fulfilled the role of “coach” for the Rural Community College Initiative (RCCI), an initiative coordinated by the SRDC that helped advance the community/economic outreach efforts of rural community and tribal colleges in the South. Working with the SRDC, he advised the Center’s development of priority goals and strategies as a member of its Technical and Operational Advisory Committee. As the treasurer for the National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals (NACDEP), he crafted the financial polices and tackled the task of obtaining 501C3 status for the organization. Without question, Hank Cothran has played a central role in shaping the activities and successes of the various organizations of which he has been a part.
For his professional investment and commitment to Extension community development work in the Southern region and beyond, it is most fitting that Mr. Hank Cothran be honored by the Southern Rural Development Center as its 2009 recipient of the Bonnie Teater Community Development Educator Lifetime Achievement Award.