WVU Extension Specialist –
Literacy and Academic Success
Alicia Cassels, who previously served as the Brooke County WVU Extension 4-H agent, is Extension’s new Literacy and Academic Success Specialist.
A key role for Cassels includes serving as the director for Extension’s Energy Express, a WVU Extension program that has been honored as one of the most successful literacy programs in America. It is funded through a $1.4 million grant from AmeriCorps, a $470,000 grant from the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, and operates through strong state and local partnerships.
Cassels is familiar with Energy Express and began the process of opening a new site in Brooke County in 2009, a county that had never had the program before.
As the Brooke county 4-H Youth Development agent, Cassels received WVU Extension Service’s 2010 Diversity Programming Excellence Award.
She developed and distributed a training module that prepares educators and volunteers to help youths have positive learning experiences. Her training module, “100 West Virginia Kids,” guides faculty, camp staff, volunteers and other leaders in helping youths from all backgrounds succeed in Extension programs.
The module, which has been presented at state and national educational conferences, was used in West Virginia to train all staff of the Alpha I and Alpha II statewide camps held at WVU Jackson’s Mill in 2010.
During the training, participants improve their skills for developing inclusive programs for youths. They also learn ways to identify factors that lead to successful outcomes for youths, and they learn how to identify factors that hinder youths from having successful outcomes.
Issues stemming from poverty and obesity are among the barriers for which trainees learn how to adjust their youth learning activities.
While creating safe, caring environments, WVU Extension’s 4-H Youth Development activities promote youths’ independence, generosity and skill mastery.