Evelyn Whitmer is currently the Family Consumer Sciences Health Area Full Agent in Cochise County and the state Collective Impact leader as well as providing oversight for the state Oral Health Programs. She has taken on the leadership of the state impact. She has recently served as the University of Arizona Cochise and Santa Cruz County Director with over 90 employees where she offered guidance to faculty and staff in two county offices as well as working with the public and county leadership. She also served the state Family and Consumer Associate Director as part of a team where she provided guidance and support to her fellow state agents while promoting their programs. For over 20 years she has served the state of Arizona as an Area Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences, developing, and delivering research-based, objective, informal education programs to Arizona families. The educational programs assist families in the areas of parenting and care giving, oral health, leadership, resource management, PSE work, Collective Impact, and healthy living. She develops and conducts programs which address priority needs. She continues to work with the community leadership, partners, and citizens to develop sustainable changes in the community with policy, systems, and environmental changes through collective impact. She has developed or assisted in developing peer reviewed curriculum for various trainings for The University of Arizona. She has brought in over $14million dollars in funding and has various publications in professional journals, state publications, as well as local-state-national-international presentations.
Mission: To develop programs to sustain long term impacts in the community and beyond, making our communities all around healthier places to live and thrive.
Vision: To create programs that support all members of the community; to give people the skills and support to use their strengths to lead; to empower communities to put in place policy, systems, and environmental changes so that the next generation can build upon what has been accomplished; to inspire and support staff to build upon their assets.
Evelyn grew up in Cochise County. She attended Cochise College after she passed the college entrance exam in the 8th grade and was enrolled in a college program for younger children. It was here that she met many children from different parts of the county and Southern Arizona. In sports she met many others who have become long time acquaintances. Her mother was one of three leading experts on microbiology for the government who also worked to help youth go to college. Whitmer’s father, developed concepts and doctrines for the government, also promoted diversity and inclusion in the community. It is from these roots that she continues to look through the lens of the social determinants of health for promoting collective impact. Whitmer was an exchange student in Sonora Mexico where she learned Spanish and was further introduced into the culture. She has used this experience to form programming. After high school, Whitmer joined the Army to become an X-Ray technician and later a Military Police Woman. After her military training she attended Northern Arizona University and she enrolled in the National Guard of Arizona and worked at Camp Navajo Military Reservation. While attending Northern Arizona University she joined ROTC and attended Officer’s Training Camp in Ft. Lewis, Washington. Whitmer served in the military for over 10 years. After graduation from the University, Whitmer worked in juvenile probation in Flagstaff, AZ. When Whitmer returned to southern Arizona she worked at Child and Family Resources and shortly after gained employment at Arizona Children’s Association (ASCA). At ASCA she supervised eight programs to educate, support and change the lives of families. Her leadership covered Graham, Greenlee, Cochise, and Santa Cruz Counties with over 100 staff.
Whitmer and her colleagues at the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension wrote the peer reviewed Arizona Community Training Leadership Curriculum in 2004, the peer reviewed curriculum for Brain Builders early childhood development program for childcare providers in 2007, and the Self Determination Youth Leadership Training in 2016. This training served hundreds of childcare providers, community leaders, and youth leaders. She has several publications in professional journals and other peer reviewed publications. She has presented nationally and internationally.
Whitmer’s nutrition programs in the county are in every eligible school district after much work and dedication of the staff serving over 30,000 youth per year. This program works with the schools to develop policy, systems, and environmental changes. Whitmer collaborated with the College of Public Health on a Special Action Group in Douglas, AZ. This group advocated for health in that border town. This group brought awareness to stakeholders about the twice than the national average of diabetes along the border. Among many policy, systems and environmental changes, the one that stands out is the school health policy for the Douglas Unified School District. With Whitmer’s leadership, this policy was developed by community members and implemented into the school district prior to the state mandates. This policy was used as a model for the state. The policy focused on the health, nutrition, and physical activity of the students and faculty. This policy has evolved over the years with its deep roots in the schools. Whitmer's adult nutrition program continuously improves participants knowledge and creates behavioral changes with its participants.
For many years, Whitmer ran the Child Health and Resource Event (CARE Fair) in Douglas Arizona that was started by her predecessor Lynas Whaun. One of the programs she brought into the fair was dental checks and a fluoride varnish program. Each year the dentist would see children who were in urgent need of dental care. Many had untreated dental decay and few children and caregivers understood the importance of dental hygiene. Whitmer proposed to the newly formed First Things First Regional Council that they should fund an oral health program in Cochise County. Whitmer received the grant to start her program, “First Smiles” in Cochise County. She gathered experts to put this program together. After a couple of years “First Smiles” expanded to five other counties who ran their own programs. The relationship with ADHS developed and Whitmer was asked to lead the dental sealant program in the hard-to-reach rural areas. The dental sealant program expanded into nine counties employing over 60 positions. Due to funding restraints, the program ended. The greatest achievement in Cochise County is that prior to this program starting there was very little available for oral health, now there is tooth brushing in childcare centers, there is education from local doctors about oral hygiene, and the rural clinic built a large dental center for the citizens of the county that is based on a sliding scale fee. Because of the work of our Building Healthy Communities project with input from all aspects of the communities, there is a bus system that reaches to most of the county so that many can get these services.
Whitmer’s relationship with community leaders, her staff who are entrenched in the community, and her work with Collective Impact brought about a Healthy Cochise Summit that led into a collaborative grant of two million dollars from a local foundation (Legacy Foundation of Southeast Arizona) to develop a plan to change the needle on health in Cochise County. Whitmer with community leadership developed the Building Healthy Communities (BHC) Project. This five-year project where COVID-19 came right in the middle of it, increased the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables in the county by 42% over the first three years of the initiative, with the largest increases occurring in year two of the grant. The BHC program supported an increase in school gardens from 4 in 2018 to 9 active gardens and 12 additional sites of interest in 2020. In addition to traditional gardens, BHC has also focused efforts on introducing garden towers in community locations. The BHC delivered 29 garden towers to school and community sites through 2022.
Whitmer holds the following certifications: Strategic Planning Certification, Focused Conversation Certification, Positive Workplace Trainer, Positive Discipline Trainer, Partners in Parenting Certification, Abriendo Puetas Trainer, Adverse Child Effects Trainer, Pax Certification, Mental Health First Aid Certification, Child Care Health Consultant Certificate.
Whitmer has received the following awards and recognition 2023-2003:
2022: National Extension Educator of the Year NEAFCS; 1st place Financial Management Award-In Memory of Dean Don Felker National NEAFCS (team)
2021: 1st place Excellent in Teamwork Western Region NEAFCS (team); 2nd place Community Partnership National Award NEAFCS (team); 1st place Community Partnership Western Region NEAFCS (team); 1st place Dean Don Felker- Financial Management Award Western Region NEAFCS (team).
2020: 1st place Florence hall Award Oral Health Programs National NEAFCS (team); 3rd place Human Development/Family Relationships Western Region Award NEAFCS (team).
2016: 1st place Program Excellence Through Research Western Region NEAFCS (team).
2013: Continued Excellence Award National NEAFCS (individual); 3rd place Florence Hall Oral Health Programs National NEAFCS (team); Western Extension Directors-program qualifier (individual).
2012: Consulate of Mexico Leadership Award (individual).
2011: Distinguished Excellence Award NEAFCS (individual); Leadership in Children's Issues Cochise County Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse (individual).
2010: Communication Award-Cochise County Networking Leaders (individual).
2008: Hemmy Award for Public Health Campaigns and Projects (team).
2007: 2nd place Early Childhood Care Training Western Region NEAFCS (team).
2006: Prevention Research Center Excellence Award-University of Arizona Southwest Center for Community Health; Douglas Community Award-Douglas Unified School District (individual).
2005: 1st place Marketing Package Award National NEAFCS (team); 2nd place Early Childhood Childcare Training Award National NEAFCS (team); 1st place Florence Hall Award National NEAFCS (team); Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Scholars Award-John and Doris Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences (individual).
2004: Extension Educator of the Year AEAFCS (individual).
2003: Jean M. Priester National Award-Bone Builders Program-United Stated Department of Agriculture, Healthy People, Healthy Community Initiative (team).