Karen Neff, District 2 Public Health’s Adolescent Health and Youth Development Coordinator, was awarded the 2014 Preceptor of the Year Award from the University of Georgia’s College of Public Health. The award was presented at the annual Practice Advisory Group spring luncheon in Athens. The Practice Advisory Group directs and guides the Internship and Residency Programs for the College of Public Health as well as connecting academic resources of the college to public health agencies.
Neff was nominated for the Preceptor of the Year award by UGA interns, Jenessa Teague and Kelly Truesdell, both MPH students with concentrations in Health Promotion and Behavior. Of Neff, Jenessa wrote, “Karen is not only our internship supervisor, but a great mentor and someone that we can rely on not only professionally, but personally as well.”
Neff was selected for the award for her guidance and direction of UGA interns in the implementation of the Be Proud! Be Responsible! curriculum; an evidence-based intervention that seeks to reduce the risk of HIV, STDs and pregnancy among teens. The program is a six-module program of study designed to educate youth populations about the risks associated with certain behaviors. The interns work with at-risk youth in the Hall County Juvenile Justice System and the Regional Youth Detention Center, part of the Georgia Juvenile Justice System.
As Preceptor, Neff supervises all aspects of the interns’ work for the district and provides evaluation of their work and development to the College’s Practice Coordinator. The interns prepare lesson plans, organize activities for the class, and monitor the progress of participating youth. Neff also strives to make sure the interns learn all aspects of health promotion by involving them in district and stakeholder meetings, collaborations with other agencies, and other outreach efforts in the district.
Placement of interns in Georgia Public Health Districts is developed and coordinated by the College’s Practice Coordinator, Nina Cleveland. Cleveland says “The guidance and supervision these professionals provide is essential to the students’ move from academia to practice. Through this relationship, students learn to put the theory they learn in the classroom into practice in the field.”
Neff began working for District 2 in January 1998 in the Women’s Health Program but has always worked with youth and teens. In 2007, she became the Adolescent Health and Youth Development Coordinator. She is a graduate of the University of North Georgia with a Bachelor of Science in Sociology. Karen and her husband Dave live in Gainesville and have 3 adult children and 3 grandchildren.