Vanessa Spero, UF/IFAS Extension

Vanessa Spero

Vanessa Spero works for the University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences  Extension as a 4-H Youth Development Agent.  She earned her BS from Cornell University in Animal Sciences and her MS from Florida Institute of Technology in Environmental Education.  She has worked for extension for 6 years.  Previously she had volunteered with the Peace Corps in West Africa, the Jane Goodall Institute in East Africa, and owned and operated her own non-profit in East Africa.  Her interests led her to a pursue a career in non-formal education with a focus on teaching about the environment.  More specifically within Extension, her programs began to focus on gardening with youth.   By teaming up with the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent in Brevard (Elizabeth Shephard), she began targeting healthy eating and nutrition concepts as part of her programming.  Over the years she has presented at national conferences (North American Association for Environmental Education, National Association of Extension 4-H Agents, Extension Professionals of Florida, etc.), received awards (National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences Environmental Education Award, Florida Association of Extension 4-H Agents Program in Excellence Award, etc.), and secured grant funding (United Healthcare, Florida Agriculture in the Classroom, Florida Department of Agricultural and Consumer Sciences, etc.), to promote gardening and healthy eating initiatives.