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AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. — The Alabama Cooperative Extension System and the Auburn University Transportation Research Institute were recently recognized for demonstrating outstanding leadership in designing and delivering technology transfer programs to local communities. Alabama Extension’s ALProHealth program and the Research Institute received the Council of University Transportation Center’s (CUTC) Technology Transfer Leadership Award at the CUTC Annual Awards Banquet Jan. 6 in Washington D.C.
AU Partner Program
ALProHealth and the Research Institute received the award based on its AU Partner Program. The program outlines a step-by-step process for communities to identify walking and bicycling improvements, recognize needs and concerns and pursue funding to help implement improvements. The website also has several resource tools for communities to download to get started on planning for transportation improvements.
Jeffrey LaMondia, ALProHealth team member, along with Transportation Institute Director Laurence Rilett accepted the award.
ALProHeath is a cooperative agreement between Alabama Extension and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). ALProHealth works to improve access to healthier foods and places for physical activity in 13 Alabama counties with an adult obesity prevalence of 40 percent or greater. The program’s role in the award centered on using transportation to improve active travel–such as walking and biking–in these communities and encourage a healthier lifestyle.
The winning program had many partners leading to its recognition. LaMondia, who is also an Auburn University associate civil and environmental engineering professor, worked with fellow Alabama Extension and ALProHealth team members Sondra Parmer, Ruth Brock and Mitch Carter and Auburn University graduate students Fernando Cordero and Corinne Arcenal.
“We developed a multi-step program that is implemented in the communities,” LaMondia said to the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. “It takes a lot of our complex engineering tools and processes and simplifies them so that folks who work in the community can start advocating for these improvements.”
The team evaluated each of the 13 counties with input from community representatives. From this evaluation, they developed a plan with short- and long-term goals for transportation improvements. The result was a plan to develop new sidewalks, bike lanes, crosswalks and improved intersections.
“We are really proud of what we have accomplished in these communities,” LaMondia said. “Many of them are small and have not been able to advocate for themselves. There is just such a need in these communities. It is improving their quality of life and their vision of what they want their community to be. And that, to me, is really powerful.”