Faces of ACES
Who are the Faces of ACES? They are the 4-H agents working to build tomorrow’s leaders. They are the educators helping farmers recover from a disaster. They are the experts creating a healthier Alabama. They are even the researchers looking to change the world. Yes, the Faces of ACES are many and ever changing. These educators take the university to the people, bringing practical ways to better our homes, farms, people, and communities.
Join us throughout 2023 as we highlight the many Faces of ACES as they work to extend knowledge and improve lives!
Meet Jody Thompson – Outreach Administrator
Hello from Alabama’s coast! I am Jody Thompson, and I am an aquatic resources outreach administrator at the Auburn University Marine Extension and Research Center. I began working for Alabama Extension in 1999, almost 25 years ago. With Extension, I have the privilege of working with municipalities and other stakeholders to build more sustainable communities, helping them mitigate impacts from flooding and other natural hazards.
What is the best thing about ACES? Alabama Extension has a reputation for providing unbiased, science-based information. Our strong commitment to this mission has allowed me to gain the trust of stakeholders of all types and beliefs, leading to many successful projects in my career and allowing me to help Alabama residents.
What is a fun fact about you that nobody knows? I jumped out of an airplane, and I snorkeled with blue whales.
What hobbies do you have outside of work? My husband and I love to travel and have been lucky enough to travel extensively. We have visited over 15 different countries including Poland, Hungary, and French Polynesia. We plan to visit Iceland for the first time this year. Japan and Africa are on our bucket list.
What is the most challenging part of your job? Although everyone along the coast experiences the impacts of floods and storms in some way, it can be challenging to communicate the importance of rules and measures and to facilitate consensus among stakeholders to adopt measures that can help their resilience in the long term. It is exciting for me to achieve that, knowing my work has helped improve the quality of life and environment for the residents I serve.
Learn More About Jody Thompson
Meet Izette McNealy – Regional Extension Agent
Hello! I am Izette McNealy, and I am an Alabama 4-H regional Extension agent for Jefferson County. Over the last 20 plus years, I have had the privilege of working with Alabama’s young people as they participated in 4-H programs. I originally worked in the medical field, but after 10 years in a fulfilling but taxing position, I was thrilled to become part of the 4-H family, where I get to see young people grow into strong, wonderful adults.
What is the best thing about ACES? One of the best things about Alabama Extension is that it is more than just an outreach education system. The people that work within ACES are part of a family.
What is the most interesting location that you have visited while working for ACES? One place that I loved visiting is the mountaintop of Guntersville.
What is a fun fact about you that nobody knows? I love to bake cakes from scratch.
What hobbies do you have outside of work? Outside of work, some of my hobbies include going to Zumba, gardening, couponing, dancing, and traveling.
What is the most challenging part of your job? 4-H summer camp is one of the most popular activities that we have. It is always hard having to tell a 4-H member that 4-H camp is full.
Learn More About Izette McNealy
Meet Rachel Snoddy – County Extension Coordinator
Hi there! I am Rachel Snoddy, and I serve as the county Extension coordinator for Chambers County. I started my time with Alabama Extension in 2011 as an Alabama 4-H regional agent. Since becoming a county coordinator in 2019, I continued my work with 4-H, but I have also been involved in several community workforce, leadership, and economic development projects.
What is the best thing about ACES? The best thing about Extension is getting to make a difference in the lives of our residents. Whether it’s taking youth on trips to places they have never been, teaching skills to youth that can help them in their future, or increasing health access to rural communities, I have so enjoyed seeing programs I’ve worked with make a difference.
What is the most interesting location that you have visited while working for ACES? From attending conferences to chaperoning 4-H trips, I have been able to travel many times with Extension. I loved visiting Washington, D.C. and Denver, Colorado the most. Both places have beautiful sights to see.
What hobbies do you have outside of work? I enjoy reading and spending time with my family and dogs. I also love to travel and see new places, but don’t get to get away as much as I’d like to.
Learn More About Rachel Snoddy
Meet Becky Barlow – Associate Dean and Assistant Extension Director
Hello! I am Becky Barlow, and I am the Alabama Extension assistant director for agriculture, forestry, and natural resources programs. I also serve as the associate dean for Extension within the Auburn University College of Agriculture. Before becoming the assistant director in 2022, I started my career at Alabama Extension in 2007 as a forestry specialist in the Auburn College of Forestry, Wildlife, and Environment.
What is the best thing about ACES? The best thing about Extension is we get to work with the citizens of Alabama and give them the tools to make their lives better.
What is the most interesting location that you have visited while working for ACES? Oh, wow. That is a difficult one to decide. My top five are probably the Redstone Arsenal, the Natural Bridge in Winston County, Auburn University’s Rural Studio, the Escambia Experimental Forest near Brewton, and getting to see how Golden Eagle Syrup is made in Fayette.
What is a fun fact about you that nobody knows? I have a goal of hiking the entire Appalachian Trail in sections. I only started in the last year, but I have completed almost all the trail in Georgia.
What hobbies do you have outside of work? I enjoy doing creative things, like art, sewing, writing, and cooking. I also love outdoor activities like hiking, camping, kayaking, and ice skating.
Meet Rishi Prasad – Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist
I am Rishi Prasad, a crop, soil, and environmental sciences assistance professor and specialist with Alabama Extension, where I have worked since 2017. Through my position, I get to work with many different areas of agriculture, including row crops, cattle, poultry, and commercial horticulture, just to name a few. In all these areas, my job specifically centers around nutrient management and environmental stewardship.
What is the best thing about ACES? The best thing about Alabama Extension is we provide science-based and bias-free information and education to all residents of the state and the nation.
What is the most interesting location that you have visited while working for ACES? Outside of work, I like to travel and explore new places, but my favorite place Extension has taken me for work is Gulf Shores.
What is a fun fact about you that nobody knows? At one time, I wanted to become a NASA scientist and explore Martian soils.
What is the most challenging part of your job? The most challenging part of my job is finding practical answers for real-world problems that affect several dimensions of agricultural production systems.
Meet Wesley Anderson – Associate Professor and Extension Specialist
Hi, I am Wesley Anderson! Since 2021, I have worked as a forestry and wildlife sciences specialist with Alabama Extension. As a part of my job, I work with all sorts of wildlife, but I specifically work with nuisance and backyard wildlife as well as managing human and wildlife interactions. I’m also involved in citizen science and environmental education programming through Alabama Master Naturalist.
What is the best thing about ACES? The best thing about ACES is definitely the people. I have some fantastic colleagues, but it’s not just them that makes the job. I also value the chance to speak with so many members of the public, answer their questions, and help them solve their wildlife problems.
What is the most interesting location that you have visited while working for ACES? The most interesting location I’ve visited so far was an old treehouse on a property out in Pike Road. The owner was complaining about vultures roosting around the treehouse. I went to investigate and found two baby black vultures inside.
What is a fun fact about you that nobody knows? In 2013, I lived for seven months in Uruguay while teaching English as a foreign language to businesspeople.
What hobbies do you have outside of work? I enjoy traveling, cooking, gardening, hiking, keeping exotic pets, and paddling. My most memorable recent paddle was on the Tallapoosa River, from Horseshoe Bend to Jay Bird Creek, while the lilies were blooming.
Learn More About Wesley Anderson
Meet Steve Li – Associate Professor
I am Steve Li, a weed scientist with Alabama Extension. I started work with ACES in February 2015. My program specialty areas include peanuts, invasive species, forages, pastures, right-of-ways, forestry, woody ornamentals, and turfgrass. I recently started working alongside farmers to introduce the use of agricultural spray drones.
What is the best thing about ACES? One of the best things about Extension is having the opportunity to work with growers to resolve their on-farm issues. I am also excited to contribute to the industry and make a difference in famers’ operations.
What is the most challenging part of your job? Working at Extension offers the challenge of finding new ways to improve the livelihood of all Alabamians.
2022 Faces of ACES
Alabama Extension professionals and those we impact are prominently featured in magazines and other media outlets. Below are some Faces of ACES we have recently featured, highlighting the work they do.