(1925 – 2010)
Jeanne M. Priester was born June 19, 1925, in the Stonewall community of Lee County, Alabama, and died April 13, 2010. She was the daughter of C. Bruce and Elizabeth Reeder Priester. Ms. Priester was a 1947 graduate of the University of Montevallo and received her M.S. in 1958 from Auburn University.
She worked with the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service and spent most of her career in Washington, D.C., as a Federal Extension National Program Leader in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Home Economics and Nutrition Division.
Ms. Priester began her career as a home economist for Alabama Gas Company in Opelika and worked in the early stages of Alabama Public Television in Auburn as the hostess of the program Katie’s Place. As an Alabama Extension Stale Specialist at Auburn University in the early 1960s, she was selected to lead a federal pilot project in five Alabama counties to reach young homemakers in low-income rural areas. This went on to become the national Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) in 1964. She then was invited to join the national Extension Service as a National Program Leader to duplicate the success of the pilot project nationwide.
She was involved with the creation of the 1972 Mulligan Stew 4-H nutrition TV series that reached millions of youth. Ms. Priester helped design Team Nutrition with USDA Food and Nutrition Service in 1995 to support child nutrition through nutrition education for children and caregivers. This contributed to a present-day focus on healthy eating and physical activity. She also served on the board of the Journal of Extension. The annual Priester National Health Conference and the Priester Health Award remain ongoing tributes to her and her work.
Ms. Priester received the 1988 Alumna of the Year Award from the Auburn University School of Human Sciences. She was a 53-year member of AAFCS and received their Distinguished Service Award in 1993. In 2008, more than a decade after her retirement, she was the recipient of the Friend of NEAFCS Award, given to those who have made significant contributions to Extension Family and Consumer Science education programs on a multi-state or national level.
She lived much of her adult life in the D.C. area and, until age 80, was an active volunteer at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Newseum, Library of Congress, Smithsonian, Reagan Washington National Airport, and in her church. She was an international board member of People to People. Ms. Priester was a member of Farmville Baptist Church in Auburn, Alabama, and attended First Baptist Church of Arlington, Virginia.
She is survived by her sister, Ruth Priester Spencer of Auburn; 13 nieces and nephews; 23 great-nieces and nephews, and 7 great-great nieces and nephews. Epsilon Sigma Phi is honored to place the name of Jeanne M. Priester on the dedicatory plaque of the Extension Memorial Chapel.
Chapel Plaque Inscription Number: 543