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DAA: April C. Mason

April Mason

April C. Mason


Fort Collins, CO


On the surface, working to combat iron deficiencies and Vitamin A blindness common to children in Indonesia, and addressing nutritional concerns among the elderly of Tippecanoe County in Indiana, present little in common. Yet for April Mason, this dichotomy anchors a principle central to her exemplary career as food science educator and researcher: Deliver resources wherever they’re needed. Address issues important to recipients. Growing up in Italy and attending the Overseas School of Rome afforded early glimpses of a global perspective. “I developed a passion for travel and the willingness to take calculated risks,” says Mason. “I also developed an appreciation of racial, cultural and religious differences, and the many ways people examine and study issues.” Ability to lead, and the spirit to embrace diversity, translated directly to development of an extensive range of food safety and nutrition programs, all focused on transferring university-based knowledge to the end user. The Safe Food for the Hungry program, an initiative launched by Mason in the early 1990s was the most gratifying. Working with representatives from food banks and homeless shelters, Mason and colleagues developed food safety and nutrition programming targeted to not-for-profit food distribution programs nationwide. Her efforts garnered the Secretary of Agriculture’s Team Honor award in 1996, and positioned Purdue University as a leader in the food safety arena. After nearly three decades as a Boilermaker, her decision to head west for new challenges at Colorado State University was heart wrenching, admits Mason. Yet living near the base of the Rockies—and hundreds of miles from Midwest humidity—does have its perks. “There are wonderful trails throughout Fort Collins. I never get tired of gazing at the mountains. Every light, cloud and sunset looks completely different.” “Remember the individuals you learn with, because each one leaves you with a gift. I’ve spent my career in higher education in order to pass those gifts along and, hopefully, to change things for the better.”