Patricia Merk- Professional Achievement Award, 2021

Dr. Patty Merk received her Ph.D. at the University of Arizona Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences in 2005. She is also a graduate of Indiana University with a B.S. in Journalism and a M.S. in Child Development and Family Studies. Patty designs, creates, implements, and manages programs for families with young children and early childhood professionals as Area Extension Agent and Regional Specialist for the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension in Maricopa County. She also serves as Interim Director for Yavapai County Cooperative Extension. Dr. Merk’s programs are focused in the areas of early childhood development, preschool environments and curricula, and early childhood teacher programming, focusing on early brain development, nature education in preschools, and family literacy. In the 31 years with Extension, she spent two years in Cochise County and six years in Santa Cruz County and has worked with both 4-H Youth Development and Family and Consumer Sciences program areas. As an Extension professional, she uses research to create high-value educational experiences and programs and seeks grants and contracts to implement them.

Dr. Merk engages in numerous community partnerships and collaborations to accomplish program goals including the Maricopa Family Support Alliance, Child Abuse Prevention Council, Early Childhood Nutrition Team and many others. In addition, she has served as a member of the First Things First South Phoenix Regional Council for 12 years and in numerous capacities with alliances and boards. She was elected to a two-year term as Vice-President for Professional Development with the National Extension Association for Family and Consumer Sciences and served as Western Regional Director. Patty has also held many terms of office for the Arizona Affiliate.

Dr. Merk is the co-author of several peer-reviewed, research-based curricula including Brain Builders for Life: Prenatal to Age 3 and Arizona Community Training, a leadership curriculum. She also is a frequent presenter at state and national conferences and frequently receives awards for programming. In 2018, faculty and staff of the family resource center were selected for the CALES Outstanding Team Award.