Health educator receives state award Print
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Marcia Tate, a Health Educator with the Haywood County Health Department, has received the 2008 Jeanne Palmer Health Educator Excel Award, presented by the N.C. Public Health Association.

The award is presented each year by the Wellness and Prevention Section of NCPHA to an outstanding health educator for implementing meritorious community service health education activities that contribute to the wellbeing of North Carolina residents. The award was presented during the 2008 Health Education Conference held in September in New Bern, NC.

Tate, who has worked with the health department for 19 years, was nominated by Sarah Thach, Western Regional Consultant for Healthy Carolinians.

“Marcia is a shining star in the field of health education in North Carolina and exhibits all the attributes of this distinguished award,” Thach wrote in her nomination letter. “…She has contributed a great deal to making her community smoke-free, physically fit, and engaged in good nutrition. In an era of increasing concern about child obesity, Marcia has provided many examples of innovative approaches to promoting children’s health.”


Haywood County Health Director Carmine Rocco, who attended the award ceremony, said it was an honor not only for Tate, but for the rest of the health educators who worked with her.

“Marcia is one of the most innovative and hard-working health educators I have ever known,” Rocco said. “She and her staff members continue to create and coordinate an amazing number of activities each year on a very limited budget. She is very deserving of this award.”

Some of Tate’s accomplishments cited by Thach include the installation of climbing walls in six of the county’s nine elementary schools (now all nine schools have them); introducing “game bikes,” stationary bikes which students need to keep pedaling to play a video game, at Jonathan Elementary; purchasing10 mountain bikes for teachers to use as incentives, such as riding time during recess or for an after school bike club; and providing tubs of fun exercise equipment to each elementary school classroom in the county, among other things.

In recognizing Tate’s efforts to promote good nutrition at school, Thach complimented Tate and her staff for distributing guidelines for healthy snacks to teachers at Junaluska Elementary, which were then used to plan school parties and other events.

“Her staff was very involved in promoting one-percent-fat milk in the schools and also at local convenience stores (displaying school mascot logos where the one percent milk was kept,” Thach wrote.

Thach also recognized Tate’s efforts to urge the Haywood County schools system to become smoke-free, a goal reached in 2005.

“For 10 years, Marcia and her fellow health educators have been teaching health occupation students the Teens Against Tobacco Use curriculum, having those high school students teach tobacco prevention among fifth graders,” Thach wrote. “Now Tobacco Reality Unfiltered clubs are in Pisgah and Tuscola Schools. It was these students that made the official presentation asking the Board of Education to go smoke-free.”

Thach also credited Tate with being one of the first health educators in western North Carolina to use listening sessions (focus groups) to hear about community needs in the community health assessment process, and for her efforts on behalf of hard to reach populations.

“Marcia is clearly effective in creating a health promoting environment in her county,” Thach wrote. “In fact, health directors from surrounding counties have their new health educators meet with Marcia as part of their orientation, because of her breadth and depth of knowledge of health education…Marcia has been a tireless advocate for health. Her contribution to Haywood County’s health is lasting, unique and outstanding.”

Other members of the health education staff include Traci Clark, Steffie Duginske, Diana Manee and Anita Wilkins.

For more information, contact:
David Teague, Public Information Officer
Haywood County
828-452-7305; 828-400-9691 or
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