2009-09-03 / Front Page

Farm Service Agency Recognizes Palmer

Receives Distinguished Service Award
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

Fulton County Farm Service Agency program technician Brenda Palmer (right) accepts the Service to NASCOE Award from outgoing organization President Bonnie Heinzman during a 50th annual celebration held in Gatlinburg, Tenn. Fulton County Farm Service Agency program technician Brenda Palmer (right) accepts the Service to NASCOE Award from outgoing organization President Bonnie Heinzman during a 50th annual celebration held in Gatlinburg, Tenn. Looking back at her full, and at times hectic, career with the Farm Service Agency, Brenda Palmer feels she's received more than what she's given during the last 36 years.

"The farmers have made a difference in my life, and I hope I've had the same effect on them," said Palmer, the 2009 recipient of the Distinguished Service Award for service to National Association of State and County Office Employees (NASCOE). Before a group of family and friends, a jubilant and honored Palmer was presented the award in mid-August during NASCOE's 50th annual celebration held in Gatlinburg, Tenn. Others on hand for the ceremony were national awards Chairperson Tom Oalsen and NASCOE outgoing President Bonnie Heinzman.

NASCOE was formed in 1958 to help Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service employees receive a variety of benefits such as retirement, health and life insurance and an established salary schedule as well as reaffirm the fact they were federal employees and not county, state or city workers. Over the years, NASCOE's goal has remained unwavering providing equitable salaries, working conditions and retirement provisions; promoting worker professionalism; and aiding interest groups and organizations with improving natural resources.

"It's been a good career," Palmer told the "News" of her duties that started in 1973 as a four-year stint as temporary clerk and progressed to full-time program technician with the Mc- Connellsburg-based Farm Service Agency. "Farmers are awesome. You can learn a lot about life from them."

Palmer was nominated for her years of service to NASCOE by fellow program technician Carole Mellott and Fulton County Farm Service Agency Executive Director John Johnston. In their recommendation for nomination, the duo pointed out, "Brenda is a person of many talents and gifts. She has graciously shared all of them with her many friends and associates ... ."

"Brenda is a great friend to many and an inspiration to all. Though her dedicated work, Pennsylvania Association of County Office Employees (PACOE) and NASCOE are stronger organizations today. She continues to support both organizations when called upon. Brenda leads by example and shows great compassion as she generously shares her time and talents," Mellott and Johnston added.

Palmer, 63, served as elected district PACOE representative and during the 1990s as the publicity and awards chairperson for both the state employee association and the northeastern division. In addition, she spent two years in both the capacity of PACOE president and vice president.

"Serving as PACOE president is never an easy task, but Brenda's term was extremely difficult during the years involving the implementation of CED shared management and the resulting appeals for displaced CEDs," noted Johnston, who also said Palmer was instrumental in several negotiation sessions with the state employee association and the state FSA Committee.

She in turn moved to a national level in 1996 working as National Awards chairperson and established a NASCOE scholarship auction that continues to fund the program today. In prior years, Palmer has been awarded the 1991 NASCOE Newsletter Award for best feature story entitled "United We Stand" and the 2003 North East Area Distinguished Award for Community Service.

"John (Johnston) encouraged me years ago to step out of my comfort zone and become involved in PACOE/NASCOE and what a blessing I have received. I believe I have been blessed more than I gave," concluded Palmer. "... As we reflect about NASCOE let us look back and thank those who paved the way 50 years ago; look forward and trust those who are leading us today and for the next 50 years; and look around and serve NASCOE. Someone once said, 'No act of service is too menial to be without meaning.'"

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