LEWISTON, Idaho – Traci Birdsell, the director of the TRIO programs at Lewis-Clark State College, has been named the 2017 recipient of the Northwest Association of Educational Opportunity Program’s Pearl Hill Professional Award, which recognizes a distinguished active NAEOP member who supports the organization’s mission.
The award is the highest honor presented in the NAEOP, according to this year’s president, Sari Byerly, TRIO director at Idaho State University.
TRIO programs are designed to support first-generation low income and disabled college students from disadvantaged backgrounds to help them succeed in school. LCSC’s program, which has been around for more than 25 years, is federally funded. LCSC’s TRIO program also serves regional high schools, including Clearwater Valley in Kooskia, Kamiah, Lapwai, Timberline in Pierce-Weippe area, and Orofino.
Birdsell has worked at LCSC since 1999 and was an instructor in the Adult Learning Center and a student services coordinator in eLearning Services before becoming the TRIO director three years ago.
Byerly said she chose Birdsell for the award because Birdsell’s name is synonymous with TRIO in the region. The NAEOP chooses the yearly winner and a person is only eligible to win the award once.
“She gives 110 percent with her own TRIO program and other TRIO programs every day,” Byerly said of Birdsell. “She is always lifting new directors up and talking to them about things that come up, and reviewing programs. Her name just always comes up.”
The award is honor of Pearl Hill, who was director of the Upward Bound program at the University of Oregon for 24 years and helped hundreds of first-generation and low-income students earn a college education. She was the founding president of the organization that became known as NAEOP and is known for being “the voice that responded or spoke on behalf of TRIO and TRIO-type students and programs.”